Nowadays, you can pull out your smartphone and, with a few swipes and taps, rent a car right off the street and also park it (almost) as you please once you’re done. However, while most of these car-sharing efforts provide all the convenience in the world, they’re generally rely on average EVs, which sort of takes the fun out of the equation. Fortunately, we can turn to this 1966 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350-H, which is said to be unrestored, for a tale of overly exciting car renting.
Back in 1966, when the genre-defining Mustang was just two years old, Carroll Shelby persuaded Herts to run 1,001 of these ponies, which would be massaged by him, as part of the Rent-A-Racer program.
Having applied for membership of the Herts Sports Car Club, drivers who were 25 or older could simply drive away in a 306 horsepower ‘Stang while paying $17 per day and 17 cents per mile (that would be $149/day and $1.49/mile adjusted for inflation).
Shelby took 289 ci (4.7 L) V8 Mustangs and worked the motor to 306 horsepower, while most of these H cars came with three-speed automatics, as is the case with the example that brought us here.
The special edition was mostly similar to the Shelby GT350, which meant the suspension, steering, as well as wheels and tires were set up for hooning.
Hertz considered the Rent-a-Racer program a massive success back in the day, but eventually decided to pull the plug on it due to financial reasons—muscle folklore talks about people taking these racing on weekends or even swapping parts on their lesser Mustangs.
However, the idea started a trend and while Hertz returned to the scheme after some two decades and restarted commissioning H-branded Mustangs after 40 years, the joy of bringing power to the people was carried into the modern era (other performance names included in more recent stages of the program include the Camaro and the Corvette)—the most recent adventure of the sort came about in 2019 and while the rental company has been through a difficult bankruptcy episode, the company has returned to a normal status last summer, so we can at least hope the program has a future.
A collector item
Returning to the 1966 Shelby Mustang GT350-H, the vehicles were sold to private owners once the scheme came to an end more than five decades ago. Nowadays, the surviving units are sought-after collector units, with these trading hands for six-figure sums when in mint condition.
As such, you can imagine our excitement when we came across this reportedly unrestored example. The muscle car was recently caught on camera by Washington-based YouTuber Dezy (aka DezzysSpeedShop), who also seems to provide a bit of history for the classic.
“I think this car used to sit in Lakewood, Washington about 15 years ago. I remember seeing a black and gold Shelby in a guy’s driveway that looked just like this with faded stripes at all,” he states in the description of the video below.
To us, the vehicle looks almost too good to be a proper survivor (i.e., never seen a full restoration), but while we’re taking this tale with a tiny grain of salt, it’s impossible not to have our hearts racing as we gaze at the patina look of the Shelby, even though certain enthusiasts might wish to give the thing a full makeover.