Some 885 GT350-H models were built for Hertz. The first 85 had four speed manuals; the rest automatics. Too many of the four speeds were raced on weekends and came back the worse for it. If at all.
Vintage Ad: 1966 Shelby GT 350-H – Add A Dash Of Excitement To Your Next Business Trip
– Posted on June 15, 2021
I can’t remember any U.S. rental car companies ever having anything with a manual transmission. But elsewhere in the world at least as of 15 years ago, your rental van may have a manual.
Though rare, US rental car companies did offer manual transmission cars for a time:
Back in the late eighties I took a flight into Montana. At the rental car counter, the agent asked me “Can you drive a manual?” When I answered in the affirmative, he asked if I’d be willing to drive a Subaru wagon, since he needed my domestic intermediate for a customer used to automatics.
Since I was hauling some bulky equipment to my destination the wagon was an appealing option, so it worked out for all concerned.
In 1982 I rented a stick shift Toyota Tercel at BWI airport. And in 1981, I rented a stick shift Escort in Denver for a week in the Rockies. There may have been others too.
In January 1981 I rented a Plymouth Champ with a stick shift from Enterprise in West L.A. I remembered it the other day when reading RichP’s COAL about his Dodge Colt.
Circa 1988, Avis had a couple of Ford Festivas on their local lot. I don’t believe an automatic transmission was even offered in the US Festiva until over a year later, but I didn’t actually look in the cars to see what they had.
A blast from the past! I seem to recall reading that some folks rented these, took them to races, then returned. Also rumors of engine swapped into other cars, raced, then reinstalled before returning the car to Hertz.
On rental car manuals, other than in Europe I’ve only had one once… a Datsun coupe in the mid 1980’s. Also several U-Haul trucks back then.
What did they think was going to happen
There were 500 2006 GT-H Mustangs that were, once again, offered for rental as part of Hertz’ ‘Fun’ Collection (i.e., convertibles) in nine specific states. There was also a 2007 GT-H convertible.
Somehow, I doubt they were abused nearly as much as the original versions. For starters, the traction control on the GT-H could not be turned off.
How timely: https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1966-shelby-mustang-hertz-gt350h-10/
The closest I ever came to a Hertz Shelby was in Brighton, England August of 1979. We were over there for the World Science Fiction convention and I rented a car to do some local sightseeing before the convention started. Expecting something mundane, I’m issued a brand new Ford Fiesta S in John Player paint!
My poor, car disliking, fiancée virtually did the entire trip from Brighton to Battle and Hastings on the floor of the car, as I’m exploring the local B-routes, trying to figure out four wheel drifting on the first FWD car I’d ever driven, while driving on the “wrong” side of the road.
It put a bit of a chill on our trip until a win in the Worldcon masquerade picked her sprits back up. On the other hand, this should have been a warning regarding marrying this woman (divorce after 11 years).
Only 885 of them made, eh? Well, at the Baltimore CC Meet-Up back in August of 2018, we were all blessed with two of them parked right next to one another, one of them even being set up for racing.
I’m not sure what the heck I was looking at in that photo that day (I’m the guy in the Heavy Seas Winter Storm shirt), but it wasn’t those Mustangs.
Even as a proud owner of a Mustang, I probably felt as most of you do that there are just too many Mustangs at every car show. 😉
I have a feeling that Paul took this photo, but if not, it was one of the guys at the meet-up if I gave the wrong photo credit here….
Of 885 GT350Hs made, over 1,500 are known to have survived!
The first gen Mustang probably has excellent parts support and the H and Shelbys are likely easy to re-create.
I did read that the engine swoops with a stock engine were an urban myth. If true a big company like Hertz would memo all branches to make sure the first would be the last.
FWIU Hertz had been profitably renting Corvettes for some years and the GT350H was meant as a replacement after switching the fleet contract from Chevy to Ford.
Steve, the guy living nextdoor to me in the dorms at college had a 1966 Shelby Mustang GT350. It was dark red, decent repaint, not a Hertz one originally, but with the manual. It was funny, he arrived at college with a ’79 Accord hatchback, we started hanging out and then the first time he went back home he came back with the Shelby. Holy Crap! It was in good but not perfect shape (this was back in 1987) and I remember lots of fun rides in the car. Even then it was a bit of a special car and man, did it just go. He let me drive it once, the steering was heavy and the shifter notchy but oh so mechanical in feel. But he just parked it in the open-air dorm parking lot and put the parking sticker on the bumper like everyone else. Apparently it had been in the family for years. I have no idea what ended up with him and the car, but it was a fun time.
Have any of the racing stories been substantiated or is it just old guy hogwash like brake fluid on paint or car batteries on concrete?
Um, brake fluid eats paint; that’s not a myth—the only exceptions are silicone-based DOT 5.1 brake fluid, and certain specialty paints. Go hit EwTube and search brake fluid paint.
The black/gold color scheme looked so good and natural on these its hard to believe the only way to get one initially was to rent one. Much better than the iconic White/blue most GT350s were painted as.
And then there were some of us back then that black and gold livery meant John Player Special, not Hertz Shelby Mustang.
That color combination looks good on that Mustang. It looks absolutely gorgeous on a twin-cam Lotus Europa.
A true story;
My dad had to travel a lot in the 1960s, and he regularly had to go to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, as he was the technical director for the US Government’s Nuclear Bomb projects there. [Dad had also been in charge of the facility that proved Electrical Magnetic Pulse [EMP] radiation from a nuclear bomb.]
He returned home one time with an incredible [to me] story. Seems the only rental car available was a black Mustang with gold stripes and a 4-speed gearbox. Dad had been expecting a cheap midsize car, but it had been in an accident earlier that morning. When he told me what the car looked like, I demanded photos, and he asked me [with a puzzled look] why. I had to explain that he had rented a VERY high performance car. Dad complained that it didn’t have A/C and got lousy gas mileage! [He was used to driving a Peugeot 403 Familiale wagon.]
And no dammit, he didn’t think about taking photos, it was “only a rental car”. There I was, wanting to tell the other kids at school, and no photos to prove it!
But he did enjoy that floor shift and the available power. I didn’t know until decades later that this rental car was the number one reason, that 2 years later he bought a new Porsche 911 with a 5-speed gearbox.
And yes, I was 16 years old, with a newly-minted driver’s license, and forbidden to drive the Porsche. 🙁
As to the reason why a high performance Mustang would be at such a remote location, I learned years later that there was a large group of Air Force and Army fighter pilots that came out there on a regular basis, and those Mustangs were very popular rentals!