1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass: Pace car replica

Staff reports
Farm Forum

There was a time when Oldsmobiles were the hottest performance cars on the street. In the 1970s, Oldsmobiles were selected three times to serve as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 Memorial Day race.

A few of the pace cars, or replicas, were then offered to the public. The pace car itself was a convertible model, but several similarly dressed-up hardtop models were manufactured for sale to the public. One such replica pace car hardtop was acquired by Carl Shaffer of Martinsburg, W.V. in 1973.

Shaffer reports that he first spotted the 1972 Hurst Oldsmobile Cutlass Indy pace car replica on the used car lot of a Ford dealer in Maryland with a total of 14,000 miles recorded on the odometer. Records indicate that it had been built during the third week of April 1972.

As with all pace cars that year this one was painted Cameo White with Gold colored 3M reflective trim. Only a few hundred pace cars or versions of pace cars were manufactured. A total of 220 were made with sunroofs, such as this one is equipped.

As is typical with such replicas of pace cars this 1972 model is well appointed with optional equipment including: power brakes, trunk release, fender alarms, power steering, center console, air conditioning, front disc brakes, Strato bucket seats, under dash hood lock, complete instrumentation, AM/FM/Stereo with three speakers, as well as dual gate Hurst Shift known as the his and hers shift package.

On the right side of the center console between the bucket seats the gear selector lever has the option of Low-First-Second-Third. When moved to the left side the gear selection offered is Park-Drive-Neutral-Second-First.

All of the gears were designed to transfer 300 horsepower from the 455-cubic-inch overhead valve V-8 engine to the rear drive wheels.

“This car was my daily driver for nine years from 1973 to 1982,” Shaffer says.

When his car reached 92,000 miles in 1982 the transmission began ailing so he parked his Oldsmobile pace car, rejecting a number of offers to purchase the still desirable car.

Finally, in 2000, after other financial obligations were satisfied, Shaffer started what was to become a five-year restoration project to return the Olds to the condition it was in when new.

Both bumpers were replaced along with the trumpet tailpipe tips. Most of the other brightwork on the car has either been replated with chrome or replaced.

Everything mechanical was either rebuilt or replaced, he says, so the car performs like it did 100,000 miles ago.

Now that the restoration of the 1972 Oldsmobile has been completed Shaffer enjoys fair weather cruising on the 14-inch wheels of his thirsty car while burning premium grade gasoline at the rate of 10 miles per gallon.

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