Hurst WheelsThe rarest of the rare collectibles
In January of 1965, a press conference was held in Los Angeles announcing the introduction of the all-new Hurst automotive wheels. George Hurst, the manufacturer of the famous Hurst shifters, and, later, inventor of the Jaws of Life rescue machine, teamed up with Harvey Aluminum to manufacture the wheels. It was the first use of aircraft-quality forged- aluminum centers combined with steel rims for automotive wheels. The combination proved to be super strong throughout rigorous testing on the "rotary fatigue tester," spinning the wheel at incredible rpm, and the 2,000-pound weight-dropping test for rim and spoke durability.
Hurst wheels were made in 14- and 15-inch sizes for most American cars through the mid- to- late Sixties. While an engineering marvel, they were not as popular as some other aftermarket mag-style wheels because of their high price (for the day), and they were heavy. Most notable speed shops retailed the wheels but the sales numbers where simply not large enough and the demand dropped off, curtailing production. Today, the Hurst wheel is a sought-after collectible among musclecar enthusiasts, and a completely restored set of four commands a price as high as six thousand dollars and climbing.
Hurst wheels were available in eight different combinations of polished spokes and trim rings. Each wheel was assigned a serial number and was shipped in a printed cardboard box. Four matching wheels came in a metal tub with consecutive numbers. Today it's very hard to find a complete matching numbers set of wheels, in fact finding Hurst wheels at all is getting rather difficult. This example is of the fully polished spokes with chrome trim rings and the chrome-plated flat center cap with the Hurst logo. There were three versions of center caps; the flat, three-bar spinner with center logo and bullet shaped with three Hurst logos around the circumference.
The center caps were attached with a round plate and screws installed from the rear. This prevented theft, but allowed the cap to be easily removed when the wheel is off the vehicle. The large rivets attached the aluminum centers to the steel outside rim. These rivets had a lifetime guarantee not to leak. Hurst quality was well known at the time. The most rare of the center caps is the bullet style with a set of four commanding $800 to $1000 dollars. Ludicrous, yes, but worth every penny to the collector of Hurst memorabilia who wants to set his vehicle apart from the crowd.
The trim rings are a work of art all by themselves. They were available in chrome-plated steel or with a chrome face and satin inner surface, or brush-polished aluminum. The aluminum versions, like the one shown here, are very rare and a collectible in their own right. There are two types of trim rings, both of which actually fit into grooves where the spokes mount to the outside rim. The early-style rings were secured with a wire clip at each spoke that secured it to the rim and required the removal of the wheel from the vehicle to release the clips. This was a very effective theft deterrent. Later-style rings were a pressure-fit type that was easier to remove with the wheel still mounted on the car.
Hurst created a specific gold 1965 GTO convertible to promote the wheels, and made a few sets with gold anodized spokes and trim rings for the ads. This created the impression that Hurst wheels were available from Pontiac dealers on the GTO, but that was never the case. A dealer would install these wheels if you specified that at the time of purchase, but they would simply buy them from a retailer and install them at the dealership.
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