Circa 1962: In the podunk north Jersey 'burb that he grew up in, he knew one thing for truth: He'd soon be wagging the first Hurst shifter in town. Out in the driveway on a warm morning, he was hacking a hole in the floor of his '55 210 to make room for his new friend. By noon, boy howdy, he'd have three-by-the-knee, not three-on-the-Tree. He supposed it implied that he'd moved up a little in the food chain, but he'd bought the rugged contraption because he knew it would be hands-down better than the best of anything else from the infant aftermarket. Prior, he'd painlessly put a hot 283 into his '39 Merc using a Hurst motor mount. No cutting or welding. No broken fingers. No stitches in the forehead.
Besides the enormity of the crude yawn he'd made in the floorboard (yes, he measured once and cut twice), what stuck most in his cranium was the psychedelic split shift knob. The stick was forged flat and instead of a ball or a T-handle at business end there was something that reminded me of a yo-yo, two plastic halves the size of a silver dollar and suffused with trippy pink, green, and yellow held to the flat part of the stick by a single screw. It was far out, man. Lucky for him, the big rubber boot was just slightly bigger than the bay window he'd hacked out of the Chevy's spine. Because Hurst had assembled the device with tough, proven parts and positive, adjustable throw-stops, it was eons better than the factory crap.
By the early '60s, his shifters were in OEM parts bins and company founder George Hurst was very happily neck deep in the surge of Detroit muscle car iron, celebrating their exciting, affordable forms as rolling billboards for the company, modifying them through specific paint and interior treatment and including the largest engines the factories offered (the 455-inch Hurst/Olds).
Hurst always infused its progeny with an upscale vibe. Among the company's repertoire, Pontiac, Dodge, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, American Motors, Buick, Chrysler, Jeep, and an International Harvester or two ... but nary a Chevrolet on the hook. Already there were too many others doing the Camaro to death.
Circa 2010: Now look. People are swarming the '10 Camaro. Beyond the obvious attraction, it offers great raw material from its well-executed Zeta platform, independent rear suspension, killer motor, and a refined build quality that previous Camaros sorely lacked. The car feels vault-strong, light on its feet (despite a 2-ton running weight), and inherently ready to absorb serious influx of power with just minor modifications. A dozen or more tuners are very busy these days, brewing bubbling squadrons of seriously endowed F-bodies. The object of this particular lesson is a Series 4 SS, to rekindle the spirit and demonstrate the upscale nature of the Hurst specialty car legacy. Series 2 and other non-Series versions are offered as well.
What you see is black, white, or silver finished off with black stripe/overlay on white or the reverse on black cars. To us, the Hurst graphics and badges are somewhat ostentatious but thankfully there are only two of them, plus a small reminder on one side of the grille. All Hurst Camaros are trimmed with a minimal, streamlined Hurst RSpeed spoiler. You and your best pal and maybe an ocelot or two lower into firmly padded leather throughout. The seats are top-stitched and embroidered logos hover near. The exclusive "sequentially numbered" badge (50-car maximum build) will forever remind that this is no ordinary SS.
While certain of the aftermarket mafia insinuate 800 to 1,000 hp (based on the 7.0L ZO6 engine) as optional thrust, Hurst chooses to stay relatively sane, producing renditions more in keeping with an equitable, balanced partnership between chassis power and engine power. The hookup comes from a ridiculously reliable (intercooled) MP 2300 Magnuson MagnaCharger that maintains 6 psi to produce 492 hp at 6,200 rpm and 455 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm at the ground. Aftermarket headers are not part of the program but a Magnaflow 3-inch stainless after-cat exhaust system is. Hurst uses HP Tuners for the ECU changes. Among the tweaked Camaro's charms, the four-rotor supercharger is eerily quiet and barely bumps the decibel meter at full throttle-the perfect complement to an already refined package. We have an earlier MagnaCharger on a toughie Silverado and welcome a randy bugger that whines and howls in cadence with your power foot.
The Camaro is over-engineered in several areas, including the 11-inch pressure plate, single clutch disc, and flywheel. It seems able to take more than enough guff from this engine combination, curiously avoiding slip and chatter despite frequent lashings previous. The LS3 dumps torque through a Tremec 6060 six-speed twirling 3.01, 2.07, 1.43, 1.00, 0.84, 0.57:1 gears, 3.45:1 ring-and-pinion (1.96:1 final drive) equipped with a new short-throw Hurst Hard Drive shifter. The alternative is a 6L80 automatic (4.03, 2.36, 1.53, 1.15, 0.85, 0.67:1; 3.27:1 ring-and-pinion; 2.19:1 final drive). Based on our experience with the '10 SS and a Pontiac G8, you can't go wrong with either transmission. The automatic is also equipped with a Hard Drive shifter.
When you whip it, there's nary a hint of wheel hop, partly due to unequal-length halfshafts (30mm diameter the left and 40mm opposite) as torque moves in a clock-wise arc. This disparity reduces torque oscillation from side to side and ultimately quells axle tramp. Burning off that quickly accumulated energy is smooth and fade-free courtesy of Brembo four-pot calipers on vented 14.0- and 14.4-inch dinner plates. No need for an upgrade here.
Most tuners say the SS would be better off with 18- or 19-inch wheels. But the now ubiquitous 20-incher has been slobbered over by the OE for too many years to let it go. It's a market-driven monster (institution?) that invariably adds unsprung weight to the system. In that regard, Hurst did not rub against convention and popped with stylish 9.0- and 11.0-inch polished and painted 20s. Its tires are the fantastically popular Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 K1 (summer use), 255/40ZR and 305/35ZR, respectively.
If, after you read this, you simply cannot do without a piece of history, go to www.hurst-performance.com or call 949-261-5500 (in Irvine, California) for further details and pricing-that begins on the upside of $20K and that's on top of your ride. Hurst is now in the process of establishing a dealer initiative program for its specialty Chrysler and Ford products, stores that have done this sort of work before and know where the humps and the crevices are. As of mid March, Hurst had selected no Chevrolet dealers. Until it does, these conversions are available factory-direct in Irvine.
The Series 4 car was fitted with Hurst/Eibach coilover adjustable suspension that makes the ride slightly stiffer than stock but not hardly harsh. Urethane bushings are manifest throughout and Hurst affixed adjustable 29mm antisway bars at both ends of the vehicle. The Camaro leans over just a tad before it takes a set, and in less than a heartbeat its chassis hunkers down and the mighty Michelins take over. Though the car seems massively wide, once on the tarmac that sensation disappears completely and you're on your way in a cloud of dust (hopefully not from the clutch).
Now back to that 18-year-old in his driveway: The shifter's been in and out of the car several times by now; he's sweating in the web of humidity trying to adjust the throw stops with a couple of end wrenches. The instructions warned dire consequences were this task not completed successfully. Nobody knew diddly about the contraption. There was no one to ask so intuition ruled. Lap belt snugged securely, shift rods looking about where they should be, he rolled down to the road in the shimmering heat. Could it handle that critical one-two changeup? He stomped the gas, and made like a drag racer. Man, that trippy shifter knob fairly jumped forward. The tires squalled. The kid kept his foot to the floor.