The Hurst Jeepster (modeled above by Linda Vaughn) was a joint project between Hurst Performance Products’ George Hurst and the Jeep engineers. This project actually began while Jeep was owned by Kaiser Industries, but the model didn't appear on the showroom floor until after Jeep had been purchased by American Motors Corp. Originally Jeep planned to produce 500 of these special editions (300 automatics and 200 stick shifts), but in the end it is believed that only around 100 were ever driven off of the assembly line making it a very special vehicle. The reasoning behind the lower production total was likely because AMC had plans to redesign the Commando model for the following production year.
According to an road test article by Four Wheeler Magazine in July of 1970, Jeep introduced the XJ001 “idea car” at the New York International Auto Show. This V-8 roadster had rally striping and a hood scoop and was supposed to be an indication of what the future might look like for 4wd enthusiasts. The Jeep engineers eventually borrowed some of the XJ001 features when they created the prototype for the 1971 Hurst/Jeepster Special, see the prototype here. This is believed to be the first time an aftermarket performance parts company and a 4wd manufacturer joined forces to create a special model. Hurst was already well known for creating special edition cars with the likes of Chrysler, American Motors, and Oldsmobile. Apparently, the new styling of the Hurst Edition Jeepster was intended to target a younger, performance-oriented buyer.
This could quite possibly be the most widely disputed fact pertaining to the Hurst Jeepster. I think I heard at least five different answers when I first asked that question. 100… 500… 800… 1,000… 1,500..... So what is the answer? According to the Illustrated Jeep Buyers Guide, The Story of Jeep, Standard Catalog of Jeep, an edition of Special Interest Autos, and Hurst Heritage the answer is somewhere in the neighborhood of 100. In fact, Hurst Heritage (no longer in publication) quotes Dick Chrysler as believing that even fewer than 100 were produced.
So what made a Hurst different than any other 71’ Jeepster Commando?. If you’ve ever seen a Hurst in person, you most likely did a double take. As Patrick Foster put it in an article for Special Interest Autos, “the only body color was white, which, combined with the red and blue stripes, gives the Hurst the appearance of a modern high-performance mail truck”.
The Hurst featured the following traits:
• Rally Stripes – Blue and red rally stripes were placed on the hood, cowl, and tailgate.
• Hood Scoop / Tachometer – The Hurst's hood featured a functional hoodscoop with a built in tachometer.
• Hurst Badging – A Hurst badge was placed on each side of the hood above the Jeepster Commando logo as well as one on the tailgate.
• Shifter – Since no Hurst special edition could be complete without one of the manufacturers performance shifters, Jeepsters with the automatic TH400 were given a Hurst Dual Gate shifter, while the T14a manual Hurst's were simply given a Hurst T-handle shifter.
Note: there is some debate about whether any Hurst's were ever produced with the manual transmission.
• Tires – Apparently in order to give the vehicle better on-road performance, the Hursts were fitted with Goodyear Polyglas G70 X 15 custom wide-tread, black wall tires with raised white lettering. Four Wheelers road test stated that the tires left a bit to be desired in off-road situations.
• Special Order Tag – Under the hood along with the standard “Dauntless” V-6 engine was a Jeep Corp. special order tag which listed a “Special Sales Order No.” for the Hurst. Unfortunately Jeep used an adhesive to affix them instead of rivets, and as a result, many didn’t hold up to the test of time.
• Luggage Rack / Sliding Windows / Headliner– It is also believed that all Hurst's came standard with a roof mounted luggage rack. This same rack was offered as an option on other Jeepsters. Some Hurst's also had the optional sliding side windows and a deluxe headliner for the hardtop.
• Brushed Chrome Steering Wheel – According to the Four Wheeler road test, all Hurst's were to have a 15 inch foam steering wheel with brushed chrome spokes and an adapter, but I have yet to hear from anyone who has one and believes it to be original. It looks like this feature never made it into the production model.
Further info at: http://jeepstercommandoclub.com