Jerry Heasley
September 2, 2010

2008 Shelby Mustang GT-H Convertible
For 40 years, Mustang people wandered in the wilderness with no Shelby in sight. Starting in '06, with the GT-H, the Shelby wonders have returned and there seems to be no end in sight. The latest is the GT-H convertible.

You will no doubt recall Shelby, Ford and Hertz introduced the return of the "Rent-A-Racer" for last year (which we ran in the 2006 September issue of Modified Mustangs). The '06 marked 40 years since the '66 GT-350H. All were fastbacks with automatic transmissions, same as the first generation H models in '66 (Okay, some of the '66s were four-speeds until Hertz got tired of replacing clutches).

The program proved so popular in '06 that Shelby, Ford and Hertz have teamed up again to offer an '08 GT-H. This time, the run of "about 500" Shelbys will all be convertibles, which is a first for Shelby and Hertz. Transmissions are still the one five-speed automatic, as Hertz does not offer manual shifts in their fleet (the clutch issue still lingers no doubt).

In a statement for the GT-H, Carroll Shelby is quoted as saying, "The Ford Shelby GT-H was so much fun to drive that people literally begged us for more." He added, "The Mustang program never stands still, so we created a Ford Shelby GT-H convertible that gives people another unique driving experience. It's a genuine American pony car that delivers open air motoring."

In that same press release, Joe Nothwang, Executive Vice President and President of the Americas and Pacific for Hertz, added, "Customer reaction to last year's Shelby GT-H Mustang was so positive that we felt it only natural to offer yet another exclusive car through Hertz's Fun Collection. Once again, customers can experience the thrill of renting a high-performance car that provides the utmost in driving experiences while adding a splash of fun with its open roof capabilities."

Shelby and Ford streamlined production of the GT-H convertible with what is known as a "GT Upfit" package, itemized in the specification's list below. Then, the Shelby Automobiles team on the grounds of Las Vegas International Speedway in Nevada transform the Mustangs into authentic Shelbys. They add the now familiar GT-H hood that has the racing pins and a brushed aluminum grille. A unique front fascia with integrated lower grille, as well as a set of body side scoops will be incorporated. The cars are finished in black paint set off with gold 'Le Mans' dual racing stripes and 'Shelby GT-H' rocker stripes and Hertz Shelby GT-H sill plates. A numbered dash badge with Carroll Shelby's signature goes inside the cockpit.

"Shelbys are built to perform, so this is no mere cosmetic package," commented Amy Boylan, president, Shelby Automobiles Inc. She should know. "And even though [the car on these pages] was the first Shelby GT-H Mustang convertible ever built, it had to deliver the same performance as the coupe did."

To give this ragtop pony more kick, Shelby Automobiles adds a Ford Racing Power Pack for the 4.6L V8. To put that extra power to the ground, the Shelby Hertz gets specially tuned dampers, lowering springs, sway bars and a strut tower brace - plus a 3.55:1 ratio rear axle assembly turning new for '08 18-inch black aluminum wheels shod with P235/55-18 performance rubber. And since it is a convertible, Team Shelby also adds a light bar and extra bracing.

The down side is you won't be able to call up Shelby and order a GT-H convertible brand new (Although, this fact didn't stop enthusiasts from trying to order coupes from Shelby in '06). Basically, for now, every GT-H convertible belongs to Hertz, so Shelby Automobiles in Las Vegas (where the cars are assembled) cannot sell you one.

As we write, Hertz is in the process of retiring the GT-H Mustang coupes from their fleet. They go to special auctions for Ford dealers where they are auctioned to the highest bidder. Some of the cherry examples have brought some pretty high prices, in the range of $60,000 to $90,000 is not uncommon. No doubt, these figures helped spur the GT-H convertible program.

Of course, later, when Hertz retires these Shelby Mustangs from their program, they will dispose of the cars again and you'll have a chance to make a deal.

For now though, the only way to get your hands on a convertible version is through the "Hertz Fun Collection." If you want to drive a GT-H convertible, you'll just have to rent and count the miles, though this time, you get to do it with that true wind-in-the-hair experience, something which has to be said, shaped many car dreams and memories over the past four decades. Thanks to cars like this, we will no doubt be able to do the same for many more to come. And should you decide to take the plunge and rent one, don't be thinking about motor swaps or any of that jaz. As was the case with the coupes, the folks at Hertz will no doubt have a similar process in place for would be renters who sign up for a GT-H convertible. And if you still think you can outsmart them, remember, they know here you live. (Go to www.hertz.com or phone 1-800-654-3131 for reservations).

Specifications
2008 Shelby Mustang GT-H Convertible Exterior
Shelby GT-H hood, authentic racing hood pins, lower billet grille fascia insert, front fascia driving lamp and brake duct kit, deck lid SHELBY lettering, rear brake ducts, sequential tail lights, 40th Anniversary license plate frame, tail panel emblem (40th Anniversary 1966-2006), Shelby GT-H, Convertible Concept side badges, pony emblem in rear faux gas cap, upper grille chrome insert, special side scoops, stripes

Interior
Shelby GT-H Convertible Concept door sill plates with CSM consecutive number (part of the Shelby GT-H Accessory Package for Shelby GT-H owners) strut bar ID tag (part of the Shelby GT-H Accessory Package for Shelby GT-H owners), light bar with solenoid activated brake light system, Shelby floor mats, aesthetic engine kit with billet oil stick and fluid filler caps, gauge cluster with Shelby gauges (Oil temp/Oil and Fuel Pressure), aluminum Shelby map light accent, satin door lock knobs, Shelby engine bay ID plate (on radiator support)

Performance
Ford Racing Handling Pack (lowering springs, dampers, sway bars, strut tower brace (Shelby/Eibach rear springs developed specifically for convertibles); Ford Racing Power Pack (cold air kit, muffler kit, X-pipe, Pro-Cal Tool w/Ford Racing calibration, Ford Racing 3.55 gear ratio and axle assembly)

Wheels/Tires/Brakes
Special black 20" American Racing Razor wheels with Shelby center caps on 255/35-20 Goodyear F1 tires, Shelby brake kit (cross drilled 14" rotors