Hemi Cuda. Shelby Mustang. Yenko Camaro. GTO Judge. It’s a pretty safe bet that the majority of you who regularly enjoy Street Muscle Magazine know more than a bit about such legendary muscle cars.
But one thing I’ve always enjoyed learning about is the models that had a far less bright spotlight on them. In fact, there are a whole host of powerful, often beautiful and sometimes even bizarre, examples of muscle cars peppered throughout the decades. I’d be willing to bet there are quite a few that even the most knowledgeable muscle maniacs are unaware of.
With this in mind, I’m pleased to present to you the first in what I hope turns out to be a long-running series of profiles, Rare Rides: The 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst!
When one considers a muscle car of the 1960s and 1970s, the image of an intermediate-sized coupe with a massive, large-displacement V-8 stuffed under the hood springs to mind. A few, such as the AMC AMX, were considered to be compact cars. But by a country mile, the rarest of the breed was the full-sized variation.
Even though full-sized muscle cars were a rather small niche of the overall performance car market, it was nonetheless, an extremely competitive segment. During the period of 1961 to 1970, Chevy offered the Impala SS and Ford had the Galaxie 7-liter and 2-door XL. Not to be left out, Pontiac with its Grand Prix.
But what of the house of Mopar in the full-sized war? Well, it didn’t mess around. Instead, it gave us the largest muscle car in history, the 224.7-inch long, 79.1-inch wide, 124-inch-wheelbase 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst.
A joint venture between Chrysler and aftermarket parts manufacturer Hurst Performance – the 300 Hurst followed hot-on-the-heels of the legendary 1968 Hurst Olds.
Intended from the outset to be a limited-production vehicle that required a special order to procure, the “300 H” as it was commonly referred, represented a bold move by the company. With a not-inexpensive $4,400 base price and some lavish luxury and performance options available, the 300 H’s target buyer was the well-off, 35-year-old-plus male corporate executive. Essentially a yuppie, a decade before anyone even knew what a yuppie was.
Aesthetically, the 300 H projects a nautical visage. That is to say, it’s as big as, and somewhat resembles, a barge or aircraft carrier. With a hood that seems to go on forever, a spacious greenhouse, and a trunk practically capable of swallowing up smaller cars, the 300 H is surely no svelte street demon. That’s not to say that it is any way unattractive however.
A rather neat decorative scoop and hood pins adorned that monolithic fiberglass hood, and back aft there was a unique, integrated rear spoiler atop the trunk lid that was also made of fiberglass.
The mean-looking, recessed front grille replete with hidden headlights recalled an earlier Mopar design triumph in the form of the Dodge Charger, and the full-width brake and back-up lights remind one of the then-contemporary Dodge Challenger.
What’s more, the 15-inch steel, color-matched Rallye wheels on classic Goodyear Polyglas tires were sporty and aggressive, and filled up the wells nicely.
What really made the 300 H stand out from an aesthetic standpoint was the paint job. Available only in a two-tone scheme of Satin Tan and Spinnaker White that afforded the car the requisite and traditional Hurst look, the car featured accent striping separating the two tones and a full body stripe on the car’s sides.
Inside, the theme was more luxury than sport. Saddle tan was the dominant hue, with black accents here and there to break up the monotony. Ridiculously large and plush seats, nabbed straight from the Imperial, featured supple leather and power adjustments – unusual in an era where muscle cars typically had small, manually adjusted vinyl seats.
Convenience options inside included power everything, a column shifter, a sporty center console, a large rectangular speedometer and an under-dash air-conditioning unit. Sadly though, no Hurst shifter option was offered.
Under the skin, the 300 Hurst offered some serious firepower, enough to compete with most muscle cars of the era. The only available engine was Chrysler’s venerable and potent, 4-bbl-carbureted 440 ci, raised-block wedge V-8. It was the very same motor that was known as the “Super Commando 440” in contemporary Plymouths, and the “440 Magnum” in Dodges of the era.
With a call out on the air filter that read “TNT,” the 440 was good for 375 horsepower and a stump-pulling 480 lb-ft of torque which easily propelled the more than 2-ton car from 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds and tripped the quarter-mile in 15.3 seconds.
The 440’s power was transmitted through Chrysler’s heavy-duty TorqueFlite 727 3-speed automatic transmission and a steel driveshaft to a rear-diff equipped with a performance oriented 3.23 rear-axle ratio.
Dual exhaust with quad tips were standard, as was a standard heavy-duty suspension that included sway bars, stiff rear leaf springs, and heavy-duty front torsion bars ensured that the 19-foot-long 300 Hurst didn’t handle like the boat it appeared to be.
The 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst ended up being a rather rare muscle car, with only 502 orders placed and filled. Of those, a lone convertible was produced that was used as a Hurst promotional vehicle. There are rumors a second convertible was made, but 48 years later, it has yet to be located.
Those 502 original buyers were no doubt satisfied by the car they received. Chrysler afforded them an unusual and distinctive vehicle that successfully merged luxury and roominess with prodigious power and sharp handling. If you have ever seen one at a vintage car show, you no doubt enjoyed it too. There’s nothing else quite like it.