Mustang MonthlyFeatured Vehicles
1966 Ford Mustang Hertz Shelby G.T. 350 is a Sapphire Blue Gem
Lee Nevill’s passion for first-generation Shelby Mustangs led him to this ’66 Hertz Rent-A-Racer
Boise, Idaho, is a big-little city with a whole lot of small-town charm. Boise sports the spirit of the old west, yet is up to date in every way imaginable. Lee and Sara Nevill call Boise and the Treasure Valley home, and have all of their lives. In all that time, these baby boomers have had more than their share of Mustang memories, dating back to the ’60s when those first Mustangs arrived in Boise area showrooms and neighborhood driveways.
It can be safely said Lee and Sara have been passionate about classic Mustangs since before they were ever known as classics. Their generous garage is filled to the brim with two ’70 Boss 302s, a ’71 429 Super Cobra Jet Mach 1, and this Sapphire Blue ’66 Shelby G.T. 350 H. If you’re a longtime Mustang Monthly reader, you’re familiar with Lee and Sara’s “His and Hers” Boss 302s in Grabber Blue and Medium Lime Metallic. Sara’s Boss is a stocker and Lee’s a tasteful restomod ready for road racing. There are no lame ponies in the Nevills’ garage. All have a stake in the performance business and all are long on fun.
“We first saw 6S1185 at our Mustang club’s car show in 2004,” Lee comments. “It was in the same class with Sara’s Boss 302 that had just undergone a restoration.” Lee adds he had wanted an early Shelby for ages but the tumblers just never fell into place. The blue and gold Hertz colors captured his imagination and he just had to have this one. “The owner had the car for seven years and brought it from Texas to Idaho. He had the car’s completely documented owner history, which he received when he bought the car.” Lee tells us, “He wasn’t ready to part with the car so he set a selling price way above market value at the time.” Lee adds it was a battle of wits between him and the Hertz’s owner for years. He would make a lower offer each time and the seller would come back with a higher number.
Lee chuckles when he relates this story because he would have been money ahead just giving the guy his 2004 asking price to begin with. But, hope springs eternal and hindsight is nearly always 20/20. Three years later in 2007, Lee finally agreed to give the guy his higher asking price. It was hard writing that check, but it sure beat the unthinkable—losing the Hertz to another buyer.
“Once I had the Shelby home in my shop, I began doing some previous owner research,” Lee tells Mustang Monthly, “All paths led to a gentleman in North Carolina, Bobby Disher, who owned my Shelby in the early ’80s. When I finally found him, he was a wealth of valuable information with photographs, video tapes, magazines, and SOG and SAAC paraphernalia.” For Lee, making contact with this man was pay dirt in its purist form. He had unearthed the Holy Grail, where he would learn all about this car’s deep history. He learned the car’s restoration was performed using new old stock parts that have managed to survive 25 years.
Lee said that the car showed very well but it did not run all that great. “Our Shelby had been a trailer queen and had never really been shaken down through driving,” he reflects. “When I got into the car, I found the strut rod bushings were dry-rotted and the frontend had never been aligned.” Lee replaced all questionable frontend components, installed new Yokohama radials, and had the frontend aligned. Magnum 500s complete the look. Once Lee had the Hertz mechanically sound, he focused his attentions on cosmetic issues that had deteriorated since the ’80s. The car needed new upholstery and carpet, which were installed by Boise Auto Upholstery.
Because this is an automatic car, it was factory-fitted with the venerable Autolite 4100 carburetor with manual choke. The late Jon Enyeart of Pony Carburetors practiced his expertise on Lee’s 4100 and the result was flawlessness. With all of these issues behind him, Lee buffed out the Sapphire Blue finish and took the Shelby to Park City, Utah, for the 2008 MCA National Show. He and Sara took home an MCA Gold.
Lee’s fundamental struggle with his Shelby Hertz is never being satisfied with the way it is. He feels like the car still needs a lot of detail work, including the correct fuel pump, properly date-coded components, and the like. “Our Shelby is one of just 57 made in Sapphire Blue,” Lee comments. “It still has its original powertrain and MICO 2 stage power brake booster.”
Lee and Sara’s Shelby has come a long way in one half century. It was originally delivered to Hertz in Miami, Florida, and was a run-hard rental car until it was sold in Georgia in 1967. In time, it moved onto South Carolina and then North Carolina to Bobby Disher who performed a concourse restoration. In 1997, Bobby sold the car to a Texas buyer who later sold it to an eager Idaho enthusiast who held out until 2007 when the title was signed over to Lee and Sara.
When Lee spins the Autolite starter and the 289 High-Performance Cobra V-8 pulses to life with the chatter of 16 rocker arms and solid tappets, the raw goosebump emotion is amazing. This really is a driver’s car. When you strap the dinky Mustang bucket seat to your backside, you become a driver again, because nothing Detroit builds today yields the same experience. The ’66 Shelby G.T. 350 H was a road car that kept you intimate with the pavement. In factory trim with Goodyear bias-ply tires, you’d better know a thing or two about real driving or you’d wind up in the weeds. Radial tires make the Shelby Hertz more civilized; more tolerant of driver error.
Oh sure, this one has a C4 Dual-Range Cruise-O-Matic and a 9-inch with 3.50 gears in a limited-slip differential. Nothing like the Top Loader four-speed where you can rip through the gears and be amazed at the sound and feel. However, pin the shifter in First and mash the accelerator and the Hi-Po loves to rev and bark rubber as it spins through six grand before an aggressive upshift into Second and final drive. With the 3.50 ring-and-pinion, it gets with the program quickly, and with great satisfaction.
When we asked Lee what his greatest challenges were with his Shelby, he told us filling in the remaining authenticity gaps. There are parts he still needs to get the car spot on. Components were carelessly replaced long ago before anyone understood the importance of authenticity, and he is very committed to finding those few remaining items.
Lee’s favorite aspect of Shelby ownership is car shows and cruising spots where people strike up conversations with him about the car. People love the car’s blue and gold color combination. Most understand Shelby did just 1,001 of these cars for Hertz. And most know the many and varied horror stories that went with these cars. Engines were borrowed for racing use in other Mustangs. Rollbars were welded into these cars for weekend racing and then removed. And on and on the folklore goes.
The good news for this Sapphire Blue G.T. 350 H is that it missed the abuses and wound up in the hands of a thoughtful restorer who kept the car Shelby-pure and in pristine condition, which didn’t happen with a lot of them. Lee doesn’t consider himself a Shelby owner, but more a steward to the car’s legacy. This keeps us confident the car will always remain a great tribute to Carroll Shelby and the great things he did in his lifetime.
1966 Shelby G.T. 350 H Facts
The Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) tells Mustang Monthly there were five ’66 Shelby G.T. 350 colors—Wimbledon White, Candyapple Red, Sapphire Blue, Dark Ivy Green Metallic, and Raven Black. White G.T. 350s had blue stripes. The rest had white stripes. The exception to this rule is the Hertz cars, which had gold stripes. And yes, some of the early Hertz cars were Wimbledon White, which had blue stripes. Le Mans stripes were factory applied in some instances for promotional purposes. The rest were performed by dealers.
|G.T. 350 Production Fastbacks:||1,368|
|Paxton Supercharged Prototype:||1|
|G.T. 350 H Prototypes:||2.00|
|G.T. 350 H Production Units:||999.00|
|G.T. 350 Drag Cars:||4.00|
|G.T. 350 Convertibles:||4.00|
|Performance Numbers (With C4 Transmission)|
|0-to-30 mph:||2.8 seconds|
|0-to-60 mph:||7.3 seconds|
|0-to-80 mph:||11.2 seconds|
|0-to-100 mph:||19.0 seconds|
|Quarter-Mile:||15.6 at 94 mph|