Hertz corrals new stable of Shelby Mustangs

hertz shelby 2.jpgAutomotive history has a funny way of repeating itself, often with pleasing results. On April 12, 2006, Ford Motor Co., Shelby Automobiles and Hertz Corp. announced they were teaming up again to assemble a limited run of the Shelby GT-H Mustangs for 2006.

It has been 40 years since the release of the original Shelby GT-350H models (“H” stands for “Hertz”), which were available only through rental offices in selected cities.

In 1966, Hertz charged customers the normal convertible fee, ranging from $13 a day and 13 cents per mile, to $17 a day and 17 cents per mile for the opportunity to take the special-edition Shelby Mustang out for as many days and miles as they could afford.

hertz shelby 3.jpgUnder the hood of the 1966 Shelby GT-350H was a modified Ford 289-cid V-8, with a large Holley four-barrel carburetor, solid lifters, 11.6:1 compression ratio, and 306 horsepower.

Of the nearly 1,000 cars assembled, only 85 came fabricated with the four-speed manual gearbox. The rest were equipped with the heavy-duty three-speed Cruise-O-Matic transmissions.

For 1966, the GT-350H was based on the Mustang two plus two-fastback coupe with custom side-brake scoops, a functioning hood air scoop, and rear quarter windows in place of side ventilators.

The majority of 1966 models were painted black with two gold LeMans stripes that started under the front grille, ran up over the hood, roof, trunk, and down the rear end.

(Incidentally, the black and gold color combination has been a hallmark of Hertz’s vehicle history dating to the 1920s.)

hertz shelby 4.jpgEven more rare than finding a black-and-gold GT-350H would be to locate one of the approximately 50 red, 50 green, 50 blue, and 50 white GT-350H’s that roamed freely four decades ago.

No matter the color, when motorists chose the 1966 Shelby GT-350H with the manual shifter, they would have been offered the opportunity to receive a familiarization drive from a member of the Hertz Sports Car Club. Initiated two years earlier in seven cities, the Hertz Sports Car Club Service was formed for the purpose of renting high-performance American and British cars.

Fast-forward to 2006 and the arrival of the Shelby GT-H Mustang in late May as part of Hertz’s new Fun Collection series.

Carroll Shelby, CEO of Shelby Automobiles, and the father of the original 1966 GT-350H, also conceived the new GT-H. His plans are to assemble a mere 500 units.

In the development of the GT-H, Shelby started with the 2006 Mustang GT fastback, and pumped up the standard 4.6-liter V-8 to 325 horsepower, 25 more than stock, and with an additional 10 lb./ft. of torque has made this steed one potent pony.

The 2006 Shelby GT-H comes with a five-speed automatic tranny, Ford Racing’s 90mm cold-air kit, an X-pipe similar to the one used on the new Shelby GT500 Mustang, a throaty performance exhaust, painted brake calipers, and 17-inch aluminum wheels.

Reminiscent of the 1966 version, the exterior of the new GT-H is finished in the recognizable black body with gold stripes motif. It also wears gold rocker-panel stripes that include “Shelby GT-H” nomenclature, Hertz Edition emblem on the front fenders, brushed-aluminum grille with running horse emblem, integrated lower grille, hood pins, and body side scoops.

Inside the cockpit are Hertz Shelby GT-H sill plates, and a numbered dash badge with Carroll Shelby’s signature.

“Like the original Hertz cars, the 2006 Ford Shelby GT-H will be fun to drive,” Selby said. “We started with a terrific Mustang and modified it with some Ford go-fast parts and gave it a distinctive look for Shelby-style driving. Whoever gets the opportunity to rent one of these unique cars will get an experience of a lifetime.”

The latest Shelby GT-H is available in selected cities. For more details, contact Hertz at 800-654-3131, or www.hertz.com.

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