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1966 Hertz Shelby - G.T. 350H Road Test
Jerry Titus was one of the first to test the new '66 Hertz Shelby with an automatic
In 1966, Jerry Titus' primary employment was his job as Technical Editor at Sports Car Graphic magazine. But he also enjoyed racing, and it was his talent behind the wheel that attracted the attention of Carroll Shelby. In 1965, Shelby tagged Titus to drive a Shelby G.T. 350 R-model in B Production competition. Titus won the national championship. It was a great relationship; Titus got to drive top-level equipment and Shelby benefitted with plenty of magazine coverage.
That coverage included the first drive report on the new '66 Shelby G.T. 350H in the April 1966 issue of SCG. Interestingly, Titus didn't play up the Hertz Rent-A-Car connection. Instead, the title of the article, "Driver's Report: 1966 Shelby G.T. 350 Automatic," focused on the three-speed Cruise-O-Matic transmission, which became an option for the 289 High Performance engine in 1966 and was also used in the majority of Hertz Shelbys. Perhaps the automatic angle appeased Ford Motor Company, which bought a back cover ad to tout the availability of the automatic behind the Hi-Po.
The photos are from the Petersen Publishing archives, which are now part of Source Interlink Media, Mustang Monthly's parent company. Several of the photos here were not used in the original article and are likely appearing in print for the first time. —Donald Farr
When Shelby American's Don Rabbit called us to see if we'd like to try a G.T. 350 with the three-speed automatic transmission, we decided the most interesting way to go was in one of the new Hertz versions. Truth being stranger than fiction, Hertz Rent-A-Car purchased 1,000 Shelby Mustang G.T. 350s and already has a bunch of them distributed around the country. Perhaps you've heard of the "Hertz Sports Car Club." When Chevy was the firm's major make, [Corvette] Sting Rays were made available to members of this club. After a check-out tour around the block to make sure the potential "member" could handle the power and four-speed transmission, he was given a "license" by the club so that the check-out could be foregone in the future. As of January 1 , Hertz switched to Ford and their choice of a G.T. 350--with its ability to carry four passengers in comfort--as their sports car was quite logical. The rental cost is $13 a day and 13 cents a mile.
While the Hertz purchase entitled them to a special model, designated G.T. 350H, we found it very little different from the regular '66 Shelby horse. The distinctive and attractive black-with-gold-stripe paint jobs and tiny center caps engraved "Hertz Sports Car Club" are about it. Like all the '66 run, it has rear seats that fold down to form a platform. The external scoops just aft of the door edge deliver cooling air to the rear brakes. The other change is a plexiglass rear window where the vents go in the Ford Mustang. To reduce brake pedal pressure and retain hard enough lining and pad material (discs in front, drum brakes in the rear) for high performance work, a dual-system master cylinder has been incorporated. This is a hydraulic/mechanical advantage, not a vacuum-assist, with a small diameter piston taking the last out of the system before the larger second stage takes over the job of applying pressure [Editor's note: Since the '66 used a single reservoir master cylinder, we feel Mr. Titus is referring to the Kelsey-Hayes disc brake specific proportioning valve]. It gives the pedal a progressive and rather strange "feel," but it is lighter than normal.