RENT-A-RACER

Muscle Car Review - - Muscle - The Defini­tive Shelby Mus­tang Guide, 1965-1970, —Drew Hardin

In the 1960s, Shelby Amer­i­can was lit­tle known out­side the West Coast rac­ing com­mu­nity. The 1965 G.T. 350 raised aware­ness, as did that car’s 1965 SCCA B/Pro­duc­tion cham­pi­onship. But the idea to put a spe­cial ver­sion of those winning cars in the hands of hun­dreds of Hertz rental cus­tomers across the coun­try was a stroke of mar­ket­ing genius by Shelby’s sales man­ager, Pey­ton Cramer. Hertz wel­comed the idea, too, see­ing po­ten­tial to re­vive its flag­ging Sports Car Club.

Hertz or­dered 1,000 of the cars. Ul­ti­mately, 1,001 1966 G.T. 350H mod­els were built: two pro­to­types and 999 pro­duc­tion ver­sions. Me­chan­i­cally they were very much like the other 1966 G.T. 350s, though there were some run­ning changes, pri­mar­ily to sus­pen­sion and brake com­po­nents. All re­ceived the Mus­tang’s fold­ing rear seat, and all were equipped with AM ra­dios. Most (nearly three-quar­ters) wear the iconic Hertz col­ors of Raven Black paint with gold stripes, while oth­ers were de­liv­ered in Wim­ble­don White, Sap­phire Blue, Ivy Green, and Candy Ap­ple Red. The red and green cars did not re­ceive the gold Le Mans stripes over the hood, roof, and deck­lid. And some of the white cars were de­liv­ered with stan­dard blue G.T. 350 side stripes (a cor­ner cut by Shelby Amer­i­can to help fill the Hertz or­der more quickly).

There are many myths and leg­ends of G.T. 350H mod­els be­ing rented on Fri­day, raced on Satur­day and Sun­day, and re­turned to Hertz, some­times bro­ken, missing parts, or even with the wrong en­gine un­der­hood. Greg Ko­lasa, the Hertz Shelby reg­is­trar for the Shelby Amer­i­can Au­to­mo­bile Club, wrote an ex­cel­lent book,

which var­i­ously de­bunked and con­firmed some of those tales. (Ko­lasa’s book is no longer in print at CarTech, but copies are avail­able at Tony D. Branda Shelby & Mus­tang Parts, co­branda.com.)

It is true, per Ko­lasa, that there were myr­iad prob­lems with the rental fleet. Renters with­out rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence had all kinds of trou­ble with the car’s com­pe­ti­tion-ori­ented metal­lic brakes, forc­ing a num­ber of changes. Hertz agen­cies also re­ceived lit­tle or no train­ing on how to tune the high-per­for­mance car, so some ran poorly or were robbed of parts to keep other H cars in the fleet run­ning.

Not true, says Ko­lasa, is the story that Hertz lost its shirt on the Shelby deal. He crunched the num­bers. Con­sid­er­ing what Hertz paid for the fleet, what it got when it sold the cars back to Shelby, the main­te­nance costs, the daily rental fees ($16 av­er­age), and so on, Ko­lasa fig­ures that Hertz made on the or­der of $1.25 mil­lion all told. “Not bad for a pro­gram with the money pit im­age that it had,” he writes.

n SAAC’s Hertz Shelby reg­is­trar, Greg Ko­lasa, ex­plained the mys­tery of why the G.T. 350H in this Ford archival press photo wears 10-spoke wheels when the Hertz Shel­bys were shod with 14-inch chrome Magnum 500s: “That’s not a G.T. 350. While we don’t...

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