The Shelby GT350H, nicknamed the “Rent-A-Racer,” is almost certainly the greatest Hertz rental car in history. Each car was built by the Shelby team and offered over 300 bhp and 329 lb ft of torque on tap for anyone with a driver’s license and cash enough for the deposit.
Approximately 1,000 examples of the car were made for 1966 and they were returned and refurbished before being sold to the general public as the “GT350H.” For years the cars were seen as “ex-rentals” and were worth less than the normal GT350 however in recent years this has all changed, and the GT350H is worth a hefty price premium.
Fast Facts – The Shelby GT350H
- The Shelby GT350H was a high-performance version of the Ford Mustang produced by Shelby American in partnership with the Hertz rental car company in 1966.
- The GT350H was a version of the standard Shelby GT350, featuring a black and gold paint scheme and all the same performance upgrades as its sibling.
- The partnership with Hertz was designed to offer enthusiasts the chance to rent a high-performance muscle car, while also providing Hertz with a unique and exciting addition to their rental fleet.
- The GT350H was an instant success, and became particularly popular among weekend racers who recognized the car’s potential as a formidable competitor.
- Only 1,000 examples of the GT350H were produced and far fewer than that number survive, making it a rare and highly sought-after vehicle among collectors and enthusiasts.
The Shelby GT350H “Rent-A-Racer”
The Shelby GT350H, also known as the “Rent-a-Racer,” was a special version of the Shelby GT350 that was available for rent exclusively through the Hertz rental car company. Only 1,000 were made and the combination of the fascinating backstory and the model’s rarity have made it one of the most sought-after American V8s of the 1960s.
The origins of the Shelby GT350H date back to 1964 when Carroll Shelby was approached by the Ford Motor Company to create a high-performance version of the Mustang. The result was the Shelby GT350, a car that was designed to dominate the racetrack and appeal to enthusiasts who wanted a car they could drive to the track on the weekend, then use to race with a very real shot at winning.
The performance of the GT350 was remarkable for the time, 34 specially prepared GT350R race-specification cars went on to win the SCCA B-Production champion for three years on the trot in 1965, 1966, and 1967.
In 1965, Shelby struck a deal with the Hertz rental car company to offer a limited number of GT350H cars for rent. The idea behind this partnership was to give enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the thrill of driving a high-performance sports car, while also providing Hertz with a unique and exciting halo car for their rental fleet.
The Shelby GT350H – Specifications
The GT350H was essentially a modified version of the standard GT350, with several unique features that set it apart from the rest of the Mustang lineup. The most notable of these features was the black and gold paint scheme, which became synonymous with the GT350H (though a few were white with blue stripes).
The GT350H gold and black color combination has been copied many times over the years by people building themselves replica versions of the car, so care needs to be taken when buying one to ensure that it’s one of the originals.
Under the hood, the GT350H was powered by the same engine as the standard GT350, a high-performance 289 cubic inch V8 engine that produced 306 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 329 lb ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. The engine was fitted with a four-barrel Holley 715 CFM carburetor on a high-riser intake manifold, and Tri-Y exhaust headers.
The GT350H also received the uprated Kelsey-Hayes front disc brakes, and the larger Ford Galaxie drum brakes with metallic-linings, and heavy-duty suspension. All of the (first year) 1965 Shelby GT350s were painted in Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue rocker stripes, and approximately 1/3 of them had the optional Le Mans stripes running down the center of the car.
A Weekend Racer For Rent
The GT350H was an instant success with enthusiasts flocking to Hertz rental car locations across the country to rent one for the day or perhaps a weekend. The car was particularly popular among drag racers, who recognized the GT350H’s potential as a formidable competitor on the quarter-mile strip.
Shortly after the car became available stories began to emerge of GT350Hs being rented, then having their engines and transmission removed and fitted into a “normal” Ford Mustang – vastly upgrading its performance for a weekend of amateur racing.
After the final checkered flag fell the engine and gearbox were dropped back into the original car and it was taken back to Hertz, presumably with the person trying to look as nonchalant as possible.
Today, the Shelby GT350H is considered one of the most collectible and valuable American classic cars of the 1960s. Only 1,000 examples were produced in 1966 and many were scrapped or crashed in the years that followed, making good examples rare and highly sought-after vehicle among collectors.
In recent years, the popularity of the GT350H has only grown, and the car has become a symbol of the golden age of American V8s. Restored examples of the GT350H routinely sell for six figures at auction, and the car continues to capture the hearts of enthusiasts around the world.
The 1966 Shelby GT350H Shown Here
The car you see here is one of the rare surviving examples of the GT350H from 1966 production run that was shipped new to West Ford Sales in Newton, Massachusetts before its delivery to Hertz in Boston.
After its time at Hertz this GT350H was owned by people in New England, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and more recently it’s been given a nut-and-bolt rotisserie restoration to its original presentation.
The car has been correctly finished in Raven Black with gold Hertz striping and it’s fitted with the correct Magnum five-spoke wheels with Hertz center caps.
It’s now due to roll across the auction block with Mecum in late March, if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Mecum
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.