While not even Carroll Shelby himself expected the GT350 to succeed as wildly as it did, with hindsight it really shouldn't be a surprise. Take the fastest-selling car in history and make it better in ever measurable way. And part of that success was the Mustang's accessibility to everyone—you didn't need to be a professional driver to get the most out of it. Quick to capitalize on that brilliance, the Hertz “rent-a-racer” GT350H was born. Every inch a Shelby, and now with a no-skills-required automatic transmission, the GT350H changed the way we looked at rental cars forever. It was a car any guy could rent on Saturday, take to the track and win a trophy, and return on Monday. Heck, there are even stories of the cars coming back to Hertz with evidence of welded-in roll cages being hastily removed. It was truly a great time to be a car guy.
This particular 1966 Shelby GT350H is quite likely the finest in the world. Where many of these cars lost their high performance parts after a rental weekend or at Ford Motor Company where they were returned before being sold to the public, this one carries all the correct Shelby components, modifications, and special features, and has been given a painstakingly accurate restoration to the absolute highest standards. It appears from its listing in the Shelby Registry that it was owned by the same individual after being decommissioned by Hertz, until 2006. With these cars now changing hands for prices on-par with conventional GT350s due to their history and rarity, it's an ideal investment for the Shelby collector with an open slot in his garage. There are none nicer than this.
Hertz specifically ordered the final run of 800 GT350H models in Raven Black with LeMans Gold stripes so they would stand apart and be instantly recognizable on the track and on the street. It definitely worked, and the cars showed up in photographs, enthusiast magazines, and press clippings across the country, doing their thing and bringing home the big trophies. This car was stripped to a bare shell where it was fully restored on a rotisserie practically at the molecular level. It's a sure bet that no Shelby ever looked this spectacular when it rolled out of their Los Angeles production facility, but that's beside the point. The bodywork is shockingly good, and on a black car, that's doubly critical, so great pains were taken to ensure that every panel was blocked until it was nearly flawless. Panel gaps are exceptional, and even the fiberglass Shelby hood fits better than new ones ever did. The Hertz cars got all the other upgrades the standard Shelbys did, too, including the plexiglass quarter windows, fiberglass scoops feeding the rear brakes, and, of course, the stripe package. Everything on this car has been accurately reproduced or restored to new condition, and it is ready to compete at the very highest levels.
With Fords, there's no way to say whether a car is actually “matching numbers” but this car's known history from new is the strongest evidence that it has never been apart or wrecked. Contrary to popular belief, Hertz kept detailed records of the cars' condition while they were active rentals and if the engine were removed or damaged, there would surely be a record. So when the car was restored, the 289 under the hood was completely rebuilt to 306 horsepower Shelby specifications and all the correct Shelby components were reinstalled after being restored to new condition. The engine wears correct Ford Blue paint, along with a proper Shelby-spec high-rise intake and Holley 4-barrel carburetor. Tri-Y exhaust headers were state-of-the-art at the time and remain in place as well. Correct Shelby valve covers and a chrome air cleaner are framed by Shelby-installed Monte Carlo bars that strengthened the shock towers and improved steering response. Like regular Shelbys, the rental racers didn't offer power steering or power brakes (although some later models were retrofitted with power brakes in response to customer complaints), but things like the alternator and water pump have been restored. Proper reproduction hoses, clamps, and a new wiring harness were installed at the same time, and there's a new Autolite battery up front. Experts will also note that the original Shelby American fender tag is still in place, and that this car is not a rebody.
Underneath, you'll find the standard Hertz-issue C4 3-speed automatic transmission with suitable upgrades to handle the high-winding 289's horsepower, as well as a Shelby-spec 9-inch rear out back. Restoration photos show the entire body shell painted in correct red oxide primer, and the floors remain in primer as original, with just the right amount of black overspray, just like the factory did it. A deep sump Cobra aluminum oil pan controls windage on a road course, while a reproduction Rotunda oil filter keeps it clean. All the original markings, including those done at the Shelby American facility, have been accurately reproduced, right down to the balancing stripes on the driveshaft. The disc brakes have been rebuilt, and the dual exhaust system features correct style mufflers that give this rare Mustang just the right sound. Shelby also modified the rear suspension with a set of traction bars on the leaf springs, which also involved modifications to the floors, all of which have been faithfully retained and restored on this car. 14-inch Magnum 500 wheels wear Hertz-specification Goodyear Blue Streak tires and specific “Hertz Sports Car Club” center caps that are only found on the rent-a-racers.
Inside, the Hertz cars were a little more civilized than their Shelby brothers, but by 1966, Shelby was already polishing the GT350's rough edges anyway. The interior of this car has been fully restored to stock specifications, and the only notable differences from a stock GT350 are those related to the automatic transmission: a wider brake pedal and, of course, the automatic shifter mounted on the transmission tunnel, sans console. But like the exterior, all the standard Shelby goodies were included, such as the lovely wood-rimmed steering wheel and a comprehensive set of gauges, including a cool dash-mounted tachometer up high and in the driver's line of sight. In this car's case, the entire interior is new, including seat covers and foam, door panels, carpets, and headliner, and all the gauge have been fully rebuilt. Racing lap belts have been added, and reproductions of all the original delivery tags are in place, including the visor tag describing how to start the car. The trunk is also finished with a reproduction floor mat and a matching Magnum 500 spare assembly, as new.
Documentation includes a reproduction owner's manual, original sales invoice that shows the original dealership as Larsen Ford in White Plains, New York, and receipts from Shelby American. There are also dozens of restoration photos showing this car's transformation into the stunning show-winning machine that it is today.
There was a time when nobody wanted these former rental cars, but that day is long gone. Today, the GT350H has taken its place among the most sought-after Shelbys of all time, and with only 1001 being built, they're considerably more rare than the standard GT350. With longtime ownership of a single curator, a concours-caliber restoration, and incredible performance, anyone looking for a Hertz Shelby will find none better than this.
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