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In the early 1970s the Hurst company, better known for its racing products introduced a hydraulic rescue tool which became known as the "jaws of life". That product has become well known today.

Less well known was their effort to market a rescue vehicle based on the AMC Gremlin. The Hurst Rescue Systems 1, combined an AMC Gremlin with a Hurst Rescue tool (power head and spreaders), medical and firefighting equipment including a 25 gallon tank of water and foam concentrate. In 1973 an HRS1 sold for $11,000, a new Gremlin sold for about $1900 so most of this cost was the equipment. Why they chose a Gremlin? We may never know, but as it makes for an interesting model I'm glad they did.


Less than a dozen are known to have been sold, and only one is known to exist today. The remaining example is a 1973 model still owned by a fire department in Georgia which bought it new.

There is not a lot known about these vehicles, most of the info being based on an article on the sole survivor. There are a few ads showing the car and the basic equipment.




I'm starting with an AMT (MPC?) 1975 Gremlin kit. The real HRS1s were offered from 1972-1974, so I'll be taking a few liberties. I have not been able to find any good quality photos showing the interior layout, so I'll be relying on my best guess.

I've got the body taped off and painted.


Edited by Aaronw
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Great project Aaron !!  When I originally heard that the 75 Gremlin was being reissued the "Hurst Rescue Gremlin" was the first thing I thought of but it never got past the idea stage for me. I'm sure glad your doing it !!


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That's an interesting concept.  Since they were only made from 1972-74 I'm guessing that they weren't very popular.

I've read that they were really targeted at race tracks in the beginning, but the utility of the tools found a ready market in the fire and rescue service. I suspect the recue Gremlins may have been more of a marketing ploy to gain some visibility for the tools and by 1975 interested parties were well aware of them and ordering vehicles that were more capable. The Gremlin is an odd choice being so small, I'm just getting started on the interior and I'm already having a hard time finding room for stuff. Even one of AMCs small Hornet based wagons would have offered considerably more room for gear.  


Emergency! came out in 1972 and LA County a major fire department on the cutting edge was still using Portapower a hand powered hydraulic tool. I have a book covering the history of the show and it says that in 1973 Hurst donated a "jaws" set to the fire department in exchange for featuring the tool in some episodes of the show for publicity (the producers of the show wouldn't use anything in the show that the fire department didn't actually use). I imagine once they got that kind of exposure sales took off although they were still expensive. A set ran  $7,000 in 1973 which is about $40,000 in 2016, based on an online inflation calculator.


That implausibility of the thing is one of the aspects that attracted me to this. It really makes you go "Why?!!!" :lol: 

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Got some interior work done. I cobbled together a spreader, fire extinguisher and a resuscitator case from styrene and some bits of wire. None of this will be very visible once it is buttoned up so I wasn't too concerned with getting things too far into the details, just want to give the impression of stuff in the back. I boxed in the floor behind the seat to provide a flat surface, I think I'll also be calling that the water / foam tank. With as small as the car is it makes sense that they would utilize the space as well as possible. I'm guessing probably some sort of compressed air system rather than a mechanical pump.



Close up of the spreader unit. Based on the one photo I've found it appears the mount tips back onto the deck to allow "easy" removal. These early spreader units weighed around 100lbs so there wasn't much easy about them.



Cartridge type dry chemical extinguisher and resuscitator case.


Edited by Aaronw
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