The Mustang was the first of the pony cars and the most charismatic. When equipped with a high-performance, 289-cubic-inch, 271-horsepower engine, they became favorites at the stoplight drags. However, once sports-car maestro Carroll Shelby got his hands on the Mustang, they entered a different league. With subtle but critical modifications to the chassis and engine, the GT350 went on to trounce Jaguar E-types on the track and became B-production National Champions in SCCA racing. Top speed was around 120 mph and 0-60 mph was covered in 6.8 seconds. Even today, nearly forty years later, GT350s and Mustangs modified to GT350 spec are raced successfully in everything from the Monterey Historics to the Tour Auto. You could rent a fully prepared Shelby Mustang from Hertz in 1966, something that seems incredible today given our current safety and insurance regulations. This car is one of that rental fleet, designated a GT350H. It has received a "back to bare metal" cosmetic restoration and has been painted in the distinctive white with gold stripes-unusual as most Hertz cars were black with gold stripes. The engine is reconditioned and has had a recent tune-up. The transmission has been rebuilt with all the correct parts. It is a beautiful low-mileage car (76,620 miles on the odometer) that the vendor describes as "excellent" in every detail.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1966 Shelby GT350 H
Years Produced:1966
Number Produced:936
Original List Price:Invoiced to Hertz for $3,750
SCM Valuation:$25,000-$42,000
Tune Up Cost:Approx. $285
Distributor Caps:$13.75
Chassis Number Location:Plate on left front side of engine compartment; hand-stamped into the passenger side inner front fender panel
Engine Number Location:Passenger side beneath front exhaust port; above the surface where the oil pan joins the engine block
Club Info:Shelby American Automobile Club, P.O. Box 788, Sharon, CT, 06069 860/364-0449

This GT350H sold for $46,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Bonhams & Brooks Quail Lodge sale, held August 18, 2001.

In 1966 Hertz began renting Shelby GT350Hs for $17 per day and 17 cents a mile. The “H” stood for Hertz, and 936 of them were built for Hertz to use at rental locations throughout the country.

The majority of GT350H cars were delivered in a standard format of black paint with gold stripes-Hertz corporate colors. Most of the cars had automatic transmission, a special oversized brake master cylinder and a fold-down rear seat. They were equipped, as were all 1966 Shelbys, with a dash-mounted tachometer, a Plexiglas rear quarter window and all modifications Shelby used to transform a standard Mustang into a Shelby.

It didn’t take long for the racetracks located close to rental locations to have visitors in the form of Hertz “rent-a-racers.” As opposed to the commonplace rental of a Falcon or a Galaxie, a Shelby GT350H did wonders for the image of the businessman who could transform himself into a secret agent, a race car driver or a bon vivant, at least for a week or a weekend. The GT350H was a “halo car” for Hertz, an opportunity to create a buzz about the Hertz corporation and its product and services.

Did this stunt pay off? Well, we’re talking about a 35-year-old campaign for a rental car company right now, aren’t we? And somehow, the glow from a GT350H creates a more favorable corporate impression than one of Mr. Simpson vaulting over suitcases.

In the early 1970s, when Shelby GT350Hs were just used cars and I was a high school student, I bought one for the princely sum of $1,500 from a local used-car dealer. I was employed at the time by an exotic-car dealer in the Washington, D.C., area. When I drove the Shelby to work, the owner of the business asked if I could return the car and get my money back, as he pegged its value at $1,000 at best.

I kept the car for about a year, selling it for somewhere close to my purchase price. At that time there was no cachét to owning a GT350H. They were looked down upon by other Shelby owners as nothing more than ex-rental cars, and therefore not as valuable as cars with a private ownership history. The ensuing years have been quite kind to these ex-rental units, though, as they often sell for nearly as much as their private-owner brethren.

It is quite possible that more 1965 and 1966 Shelby clones exist now than original Shelby cars were produced. Shelby American was not only in the car business in the 1960s, it was also in the business of producing performance parts for Mustang owners. Turning a fastback 1966 Mustang into a visual clone-one that looks like a Shelby from a short distance-is an easy process involving less than a weekend of work. Fakes exist so, as usual, buyer beware.

The Shelby American Automobile Club produces an excellent book, the Shelby American World Registry, that contains information about each car, indexed by serial number and updated regularly. Anyone interested in buying a Shelby who doesn’t perform due diligence by consulting this book deserves whatever bad things happen to them.

Currently, decent 1966 Shelby GT350H cars sell in the $35,000 to $48,000 range, with exceptional cars bringing slightly more and “story” cars bringing less. The sale of this particular example confirms the current market pricing for a freshly restored, documented example.-Dave Kinney

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