Shelby GT350H 'Rent-a-Racer' Brought Muscle to Masses
Carroll Shelby and the Ford Motor Company had a good thing going in the mid ‘60s. Ford agreed to send Shelby American its popular new muscle car, the Mustang, and in turn Shelby would transform it into a thoroughbred racer – the vaunted GT350. And then in 1966, a third party came to Ford with prospects for a new type of partnership – to rent out Shelby GT350s and put performance in the hands of the masses. That company was Hertz, and the rest – as they say – is history. PHOTOS: Ford and Hertz rekindled that flame with the 2008 Shelby GT-H Convertible
After some back-and-forth between Ford, Shelby and Hertz, a deal was set for the 1966 model year. Hertz’s production order would arrive at Shelby in December of 1965, requesting a total of 1,000 GT350 models, specially monikered as GT350H. The pieces were in place; however the production run wasn’t exactly what you’d call fluid.
The original order requested that all cars be built as such: Raven Black Mustang fastbacks with gold stripes down the center and gold stripes emblazoned along the rocker-panels. That instruction was later changed following the first 200 cars, resulting in the later 800 GT350H Mustangs to bear a mix of Shelby’s standard colors.
RELATED: Take a closer look at the 1965 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350
Underneath, all the Hertz ‘rent-a-racers’ came equipped with the GT350’s 289-cubic-inch, high-performance V8. Well known for its capability underneath the Shelby Cobra, the V8 engine put 306 horsepower to the ground. Fed through a four-speed manual transmission, the GT350H tackled zero to 60mph in less than six seconds.
Yet again, that too would change. After just 85 cars had been completed, Hertz ordered the remainder to be equipped with automatic transmissions due to complaints that the GT350Hs were a bit too hardcore for many tastes. Hertz rental lots probably didn’t feel like dropping in a new clutch every other week either.
PHOTOS: Check out the evolution of the 1970 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350
Regardless, the end result was astounding. For only $17 per day and 17 cents a mile, average Joes could live out all their muscle car fantasies. Though understandably, that meant these GT350Hs were driven hard and put away wet for their entire fleet car lifetime.
Think you want to put a GT350 Hertz rent-a-racer in your garage? Start saving. These ’66 Shelby Mustangs regularly bring home six-digit bids at auction. The one above recently went for $160,000 at Mecum’s Kissimmee 2014 Auction.
RELATED: Check out the track-tuned 1965 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R
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