With the shifter business now operating under B&M Racing and Performance Products, the Hurst brand name continues to be rooted in automotive performance during the famed muscle car era. Established as Hurst Performance in 1958, Pennsylvania-based drag racing enthusiast George Hurst and Ed Almquist made an immediate impact when their products became the authority for aftermarket gear manual and automatic shifters.
Hurst Shifters Products and Designs
Fostering the Hurst Shifter image are several custom shifter designs, including the T-handle and the pistol-grip, which are two of Hurst's custom handles for automatic gearboxes. For manual transmissions, the Billet/Plus shifter design caters to many modern vehicles including the Ford Mustang and GM F-Body series (1993-2002 Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird). Made of high strength steel, Hurst's self-centering properties in the manual shifters improves accuracy in selecting proper gears. A break from tradition, a Quick/Stick lever now fits 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts with a 5-speed manual transmission. A significant departure from Hurst Shifter's association with just V-8 or high-performance engines, Hurst Shifters also supplies a full array of transmission components such as linkages and cables to properly match the aftermarket shift levers
Hurst Shifters Dual-Gate and Lighting Rods Design
While Hurst makes excellent manual and conventional automatic shifters, their reputation in shifters has been defined through two unique designs; the Dual-Gate and the Lightning Rods shifter. Years before the Chrysler's AutoStick and Porsche's Tiptronic systems introduced manual-shifting abilities to automatic transmissions, Hurst pioneered shifters which supplied the same abilities in the 1960s.
Hurst Dual-Gate shifters demonstrated some of the first manual shifting automatic transmission controls. Described as possessing 'his' and 'her' settings, the shifter is designed to operate like a typical automatic through the left-side gate pattern as the 'her' mode. 'His' mode allows for driver-controlled shift actuation through the automatic transmission's gears by migrating into a second gate to the right. Developed in the 1970s, the Hurst Lightning Rods shifter also provided the same manual-style gear shifting but usesÂ an unusual layout utilizing three shift levers.Â In fact, when cars equipped with the Hurst Lightning Rods shifter were sold, a warning label was attached to the manual shift sticks advising new owners to read the owner's manual before attempting to unleash the shifter's abilities.
Obviously, Hurst designs of manually-shifting automatics never found widespread use on new cars of the era. Though well-built, Hurst shifters required the driver's gear selections to be properly-timed or else serious transmission damage would result. Thanks to modern electronics and computer controls, today's automatic transmissions are safeguarded from mistimed gear changes.
Hurst Shifters and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM)
American car makers were almost instantly attracted to the high-quality Hurst shifter. Starting with the 1961 Pontiac Catalina with a Super Duty powerplant, the Pontiac GTO's three-speed manual transmission in 1964 would vault Hurst's profile. Supplying factory vehicles, the united Hurst Performance was also successful in creating several special edition vehicles. The AMC SC/Rambler and even a Jeep Jeepster creation was built in limited numbers with a Hurst shifter (either manual or automatic) acting as a centerpiece. It was with the Oldsmobile Cutlass that Hurst Performance enjoyed the most acknowledgment. Frequently accompanied with gold stripping over a black or white body, the Hurst/Oldsmobiles, Dual-Gate and later the Lightning Rods shifters would be included on 10 annual editions currently sought after by auto collectors.
Hurst Shifters Today
Hurst Shifters product development continues to remain centered around larger American automobiles without showing great interest in the import tuner market. As American automobile companies once again tread into V-8 performance, Hurst Shifters is introducing new products. Supplying Auto Stick compatible shifters for the Chrysler LX Platforms (Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300C), new shifters are also prepared for the 2009 Dodge Challenger and 2010 Chevrolet Camaro (Chevy Accessories Camaro Hurst Shifter pictured).
Highlighted by the creation of Hurst Performance, the latest batch of limited edition vehicles include the Hurst Challengers and even a Hurst Dodge Viper. Likely to be a spectacle at the 2009 SEMA Show, a Hurst Camaro will be shown.