By the mid 1960's, drag racing had exploded in popularity across the United States. With the massive audiences attending these events, some folks started building cars not to break records, but simply to entertain and leave a lasting impression on the crowd.
Of all these exhibition racers, one of the most legendary is a twin engine, 2000 horsepower, all wheel drive Oldsmobile 442 known as the Hurst Hairy Olds.
The Hurst company had built quite a reputation in the 1960's, known not just for its shifters, but for building wild cars for both the street and track. The Hairy Olds got its start at the "Hurst Performance Parts Research Center" in Detroit when a one-off tube chassis was outfitted with a pair of fuel injected Oldsmobile 425 cubic inch V8's with 6:71 superchargers. One in the front, one in the rear.
Each engine would transfer its power through a front-drive Olds Toronado transmission and suspension setup. Power figures were incredible – over 1000 hp on EACH end.
As the Hurst press material from the time states – Mix above items thoroughly and pour into a well-gutted, lightweight 4-4-2 Oldsmobile. Turn on both throttles for nine seconds and you will have clouds of horsepower produced smoke for a quarter-mile.
The car made its debut at Bakersfield in March of 1966, riding on the back of the "Hairy Hauler".
Piloting the monster would be "Gentleman Joe" Schubeck. who told of tremendous torque steer and poor visibility from all the smoke bellowing from the front of the car.
Over the next two years, the Hairy Olds could be seen all over the US smoking its four Goodyear slicks down the track to the crowd's delight.
The car's run came to an end after a crash in 1967 at Niagra Dragstrip. Apparently the drivetrain was pulled and the rest of the car was sent out for scrap.
The 1960s were an incredible time for the sport of drag racing, and the Hairy Olds is a perfect symbol of that bygone era.
I can only imagine just how awesome it would have been to see this thing in the mechanical flesh.
For more on the Hurst Hairy Olds, check out the extensive HairyOlds.com website, where I found these photos and the background of the car.