This Shelby GT350 H underwent a complete frame-on restoration and has the original body paint. Over $150,000 was invested in this car. Shelby produced 1,003 of these cars. Today, the GT350 H has taken its place among the most sought-after Shelbys of all time, and with only 1,001 being built, they’re considerably rarer than the standard GT350. Concours-caliber restoration and incredible performance.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1966 Shelby GT350 H Fastback
Years Produced:1966 (GT350 Hertz cars)
Number Produced:1,001 (Hertz rental cars)
Original List Price:Hertz Wholesale Fleet Cost, $3,815
Tune Up Cost:$500
Chassis Number Location:Tag on left inner fender apron
Engine Number Location:Right side of engine block
Club Info:Shelby American Automobile Club
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 730, sold for $220,000, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction on September 26–28, 2013.

A very significant moment for Shelby American was their 1966 deal with Hertz and the 1,001 GT350 Hertz or “GT350 H” cars that were a result.

For years, Hertz operated the “Hertz Sports Car Club,” which offered pre-qualified customers the opportunity to rent a variety of high-performance cars. In late 1965, Shelby American sales manager Peyton Cramer contacted Hertz to discuss the possibility of a special GT350 for use in their Sports Car Club fleet for 1966.

Hertz liked the idea, Shelby obliged, and a prototype Hertz GT350 finished in black with Hertz Gold stripes was sent to the rental car giant for testing. Although Hertz found a few issues with the cars — namely the metallic brakes that were ineffective when cold — they eventually placed an order with Shelby American for an astounding 1,000 GT350 Hertz cars. This was nearly double Shelby’s entire GT350 production for 1965.

While approximately 85 Hertz cars were delivered with 4-speed transmissions, the rest were all automatics. Beyond Raven Black, Hertz mixed up the colors and also had Candy Apple Red, Ivy Green, Wimbledon White, and Sapphire Blue cars — all but 18 with gold rocker panel stripes with the now-famous “GT350 H” designation. Additionally, all but the red and green cars also sported Hertz Gold “Le Mans” stripes.

Not a cheap rental

During their service with Hertz, the main issue with the GT350 cars continued to be brake problems, as most drivers unfamiliar with competition brakes had “issues,” which really means they ran into stuff.

Eventually, crude mechanical booster brake master cylinders took the place of the standard Shelby master cylinder, softer non-metallic brake linings were fitted, and warning labels applied to the dashboards cautioned drivers to be aware of the high brake-pedal effort and poor performance when cold.

Another serious issue was the fact that most Hertz mechanics were not accustomed to high-revving engines with solid-lifter cams that needed regular valve adjustments. Hertz’s wrench spinners also weren’t familiar with Le Mans-spec Holley carburetors that could easily fall out of tune — and other quirks of high-performance cars.

One can assume Hertz was a little out of their depth caring for these and other sports cars in their fleet, regardless of how “new” they may have been. So it is no wonder that it wasn’t cheap to rent a GT350 H from Hertz, with rates of $17 per day — plus 17 cents a mile.

Retired, refurbished and resold

All units had a nine-month stay in rental service. After that, they were retired and Hertz returned them to Shelby American dealers across the country for reconditioning — and eventual sale as used cars. Part of Shelby’s agreement with Hertz was a guaranteed residual value on GT350 H cars, but Shelby struggled to dispose of 1,001 used rental cars, so Ford eventually stepped in and helped subsidize the GT350 H sell-off. By late 1967, roughly nine months into the liquidation, some of the remaining cars were sold for as little as $2,200.

In the years since, many urban legends have sprung up around these cars. Everything from tales of engines being “borrowed” and not returned to tales of renters welding in roll bars and taking Hertz cars racing — and then returning them on Monday morning with Hertz none the wiser. While few have proven true, they do add to the Shelby Hertz car mystique.

An entry-level GT350

From a collectible standpoint, the Hertz cars have traditionally been the entry-level 1966 GT350. It makes sense, as rental cars have a stigma of being rode hard and put away wet.

Factor in that most of the Shelby GT350 Hertz cars have automatic transmissions, which is another value deduction with any performance car. Finally, the gold stripes are not universally loved, although many owners just painted their Hertz cars whatever color they wanted — usually with standard GT350 blue stripes. Those paint jobs might have been the Hertz car witness protection program.

All of these factors apply to our subject car, 6S1930. I did not inspect the car personally, but will offer comments based on my review of the consignor’s description and information gained from the Shelby American Automobile Club’s excellent records.

Drivetrain questions

Obviously the consignor’s description, outside of hyperbole, leaves an awful lot to be desired. The SAAC Registry does show that it is an original black Hertz car, and has a reasonably complete chain of ownership — albeit with one curious lawsuit to return the car from one owner to a previous one 27 years later.

SAAC’s records also show this car was sold at Barrett-Jackson’s 2011 Orange County auction (Lot 346.2, reported sold at $181,500), where it was billed as having “8,254 original miles.” SAAC finds this odd, as when Hertz returned the car to Shelby in 1967, it had 11,332 miles at that time. Hmmm.

As in 2011, the most recent auction description does not mention whether our subject car retains its original engine, transmission or rear axle. The consignor didn’t make any claims of originality in this area, which always gives me pause.

I’m also confused by the statement that the car has a “concours-caliber restoration” (on-frame, which is good because it is a unibody car), and the SAAC Registry states that another restoration was begun in 1976, so, how does our subject car retain its original paint in 2013?

While 6S1930 looks impressively shiny in the auction photos — although there are none of the engine compartment — only an inspection would tell if the important bits are there, such as its original drivetrain, sheet metal, Shelby-only components, and the extremely crucial hidden Ford VIN numbers and original Shelby VIN tag. I doubt whether the car has the Shelby VIN tag, as it was noted to have a reproduction VIN tag in 2011.

Does all this sound a little scary? It should, because the few things that separate a Shelby Mustang from “just a Mustang” are quite important. Nobody wants to find out they bought a donkey posing as a thoroughbred.

Well sold in any case

But let’s say everything was accounted for and correct. It is still an automatic Hertz car. While it is certainly desirable, it is a combination that has always been harder to sell and valued less than a non-Hertz 1966 4-speed GT350 — even though they made 376 more of the latter.

Exceptional non-Hertz cars currently trade between $175k and $225k, although I have seen best-of-the-breed cars eclipse $250k in private sales. I’ve also seen great automatic Hertz cars with original drivetrains sell in the $135k–$175k range. This makes them a great value if you don’t mind two pedals instead of three — or if you’re partial to gold stripes.

But it is pretty clear the numbers all add up to one thing: At $220k “all-in” — even if it were one of the best, numbers-matching Hertz cars in existence with a trunk full of SAAC Gold Concours awards — our subject car was extremely well sold. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)


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