There was some added excitement to this years Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Hurst debuted the first ever Hurst Nationals during this years show. It was taken place across the street from the fairgrounds at the Carlisle Convention Center. The show was open to the public and as a benefit of attending the Chrysler Nationals, it gained you free access. The show displayed Hurst-built vehicles of all makes and models many of which were Mopars. It was a great display of the efforts and ingenuity of both Bill Cambell and George Hurst all in one place.
The whole idea of an all Hurst show started a couple of years ago. Matt Kehoe of Hurst elaborated on the story behind Hurst Nationals, “Back in 2015, Larry Weiner, owner of GSS Supercars, was in Chicago attending the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals. Larry brought several of the Hurst Heritage tribute vehicles that he and his team build to the show and they, as usual, were drawing a lot of attention. Throughout the weekend Larry was approached by numerous Hurst vehicle owners, Hurst/Olds owners in particular, and asked why there wasn’t a Hurst-specific event? The surprising number of inquiries that Larry received that weekend kind of planted the seed for it all. The rest was just logistics and thankfully, the great people at Carlisle Events believed in the event and had the infrastructure, team and attendance to support its introduction.” We are grateful that Hurst listened to the enthusiasts and hosted a wonderful event this year.
Many of you might be asking why did Hurst choose to hold their event during the same weekend as one of the largest Mopar shows in the North East? As Hurst/Olds is some of the first vehicles to come to mind when thinking about Hurst-built cars but Hurst might have made just as big or possibly bigger impact on the Mopar community. We assume most of you are probably thinking about the Hurst Hemi Under Glass. There is no denying that it is probably the most iconic Hurst-built Mopar of all time but you don’t forget the Hurst-built Chrysler 300’s, Super stock Hemi Barracudas, AMC SC/Ramblers and of course Mr. Norm’s 440 M-Code Darts. Not only did Hurst help build some unique Mopars but Hurst has been there as a supporting performance brand since the beginning. Take a quick jog around the Chrysler Nationals and you will see Hurst shifters in the majority of manual transmission cars and most notably the famous pistol grip.
The Pistol Grip shifter was released in the late ’60s and was a factory option on many high performance manual transmission cars. The unique design is like no other, even the Ford and Chevy guys can’t forget the pistol grip shifter. The carved brown plastic handle which resembled the stock of a pistol, fit your hand comfortably and allowed for precise shifts. The long chrome handle had the Hurst name carved in the side. You might even find a Chevy or Ford time to time that has adapted an original pistol grip shifter into their car. This is only one iconic piece of Hurst’s history with Mopar but a piece that will live on forever.
As you can imagine there are many Hurst equipped cars at the Chrysler Nationals. Many of which are from the late 60s and 70s, but you will also see many modern Mopars that are Hurst equipped too. If you look close you can find Hurst shifters sticking through the floor of fwd Neons, Chargers, Challengers and many other modern cars. Some have even adapted the prestigious Pistol Grip shifters from the ’70s to fit their modern vehicles. Others have opted for shifters and other parts out of the Hurst catalog. Hurst has started to offer so many unique items for the modern Mopars that they when a car was fully equipped it looked like a Hurst built car, but the only problem was anyone else could duplicate it. Hurst decided started a special program called the Hurst Elite Series, which would be a way that Hurst could make each of these Hurst equipped cars unique.
Following the guidelines of past Hurst built cars, the Elite Series is available for anyone with a newer Challenger or Charger. To be eligible for the Elite Series you first need to purchase and install the following items from Hurst: exhaust, wheels, springs, floor mats, graphics and a Hurst shifter. After all of the qualifying parts installed on your modern Mopar, you need to contact Hurst with documentation of the purchased and installed items, they dd you and your car to our exclusive Hurst “Elite Series” build list. They will also send you a special set of metal Hurst Elite Series badges and officially numbered “Hurst Elite Series” build certificate so you can show off your pride of building a Hurst “Elite Series” car. This is just another way Hurst is still continuing their involvement with Mopars.
Walking through the convention center you were able to see many different Hurst-built vehicles. Some that we never knew even existed! A Hurst equipped Ram was on displayed that transports a Hurst Viper and Challenger to many different shows. There was an unrestored Hurst Chrysler 300 prototype with many original parts. Modern Chargers and Challengers could be found all over. Multiple AMC SC/Ramblers were in attendance along with a couple rare Jeepsters! Although Mopars seem to be the majority, there were also many Hurst Olds that made an appearance too. Even a couple Mustangs. It was incredible to see the diversity of the different brands and multiple platforms that Hurst has built all in one place. Although some similarities could be found across the board, each Hurst-built vehicle had its own identity.
During the Chrysler Nationals George Hurst and Bill Cambell were both inducted into the Mopar Hall of Fame for their involvement with the Mopar community. In 2012 the Mopar Hall of Fame was established and would host its inaugural dinner and ceremony during the Chrysler Nationals each year. The hall of fame was created to honored people, cars and companies for their impact in the Mopar community. Since then names like Sox & Martin, Dick Landy, The General Lee and many others have been inducted into the Mopar Hall of Fame. It was no surprise when they announced that George and Bill would be inducted into the Mopar Hall of Fame. We don’t have enough time to explain in detail everything that George Hurst and Bill Cambell has done over the years. From bolting together Super Stock Hemi Darts and Barracudas to creating the most iconic shifter of all time, the pistol grip. You can see why both George and Bill deserve this recognition for their efforts.
We asked Matt what the future holds for the Hurst Nationals and can we expect to see it again next year? “In a perfect world, it’s going to stay as is and continue to grow year after year. Nowadays, if you can have one successful event each year, that’s a win. Owners of Hurst-built and badged vehicles were already asking if they could sign up for next year’s show at the show this year! That type of enthusiasm is irreplaceable.”, stated Matt. With Hurst involvement with many different brands we were curious if the event would change venues, Matt told us,“We’re not saying “never,” or that it will always be limited to once a year in PA, but if that’s how it stays, we’re more than happy with that.”
This year Hurst Nationals had a ton of great vehicles, but with any show the following years always grow and are sure to bring more Hurst-built and equipped vehicles. Matt and the Hurst team wanted to thanks everyone who brought a car, truck or Jeep to this year’s show. They are already planning to hopefully add even more vehicles to next years shows. If you or someone you know owns a Hurst-built vehicle please contact: [email protected] with more info. They want to do everything that they can to showcase the vehicles, and owners, that represent our roots and are helping to keep the Hurst Performance legacy alive and well. We can’t wait to see what next year brings and hope that everyone can make it to the show.