Even given Ford’s history of weird promotional stunts in the mid ‘60s — which included regional one-offs such as the Cardinal Edition and the High Country Mustang — the Shelby GT350-H was one of the most remarkable. Believe it or not, every one of the limited-production GT350-Hs was sold to Hertz Rent-a-Car as part of their “Rent-a-Racer” promotion. Until the cars had completed their rental life, the only way you could drive one was by visiting a participating Hertz location and renting it for the day.
Car Details and Specs
The GT350-H wasn’t just a plain-Jane Mustang with a fresh cost of paint or other cosmetic accessory. Rather it was a custom-designed Shelby GT350 with a high performance Cobra 289 V8 outputting 306 horses and 329 foot-pounds of torque.
On the outside, special Le Mans striping gave the cars a distinctive visual look that couldn’t be found on other rentals. Other unique features of the GT350-H included power brakes (added at Hertz’s request) and wheel center caps bearing with Hertz “Sports Car Club” logo.
For obvious reasons, the overwhelming majority of the 1,001 cars produced featured an automatic transmission, although at least 85 were known to have been built with a manual gearbox. When the promotion ended, the cars were sold back to local Ford dealers where they were finally made available to the public.
Unsurprisingly, offering a powerful sports car up for rent to almost anyone had some unintended negative consequences. Anecdotal evidence exists of customers renting the car for a day and swapping out some the Shelby’s expensive upgrades — even an entire engine assembly — for lesser-quality parts. It has also been suggested that many unscrupulous dealers would strip the car before putting it up for resale.
Despite the numerous bumps along the road, Ford and Hertz actually ended up reviving the promotion in 2006 at select dealerships in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. This time the car in question was a Shelby GT-H, modeled after the Shelby GT that was newly available in dealerships that year. With a rigorous screening process and rental rates starting at $150/day, however, renters were less inclined to take advantage this time around.