Shelby Mustang GT-H
Seldom do we get the chance to write and photograph a feature on a car and also watch it being built. This was our good fortune at Shelby Automobiles, where the 500-unit run of Shelby GT-H models was underway. Actually, the car we photographed was the prototype. The remainder of the Mustangs were already sold. Hertz bought them in one big deal. Hertz personnel were already on the premises inspecting the Mustangs before Shelby Automobiles rolled them onto transporters, nine at a time, to whisk the cars away to select locations around the country.
Go to the Shelby Automobiles web site (www.shelbyautos.com) and you'll see the phrase, "We did it in '66 ... and we've done it again." If you are into Shelby Mustangs, you know the story chapter and verse. If not, turn with us now, in your voluminous Shelby-American World Registry tomes to page 584 where Rick Kopec chronicles the story of the legendary Hertz rental G.T. 350.
The basic history is simple. In '66, Shelby came up with an ingenious idea. Sell G.T. 350 Shelby Mustangs to a rental car company. At first, the idea seems far-fetched. After all, rental cars, by their very nature, are not the sportiest selections. However, Hertz had formed a Sports Car Club in 1958 for qualified drivers. It was still going strong in 1966. Shelby-American went after this market. Hertz eventually ordered 1,000 Shelbys for '66. For such a large order, they got more than a G.T. 350. They got their own model, a G.T. 350 H - the H for Hertz, of course. Most were painted the historic company colors of black with gold stripes.
The Hertz models really pumped up Shelby sales for '66. Imagine this. Total sales for 1965 were only 562. Hertz models almost doubled this output. Total G.T. 350 production for the model year passed 2,500. The flip side to this prosperity is Hertz kept the cars in their fleet for a year. They began selling off the Shelby fastbacks, en masse, in September of 1967. Some cars sold for less than wholesale, which was $2,474. Average retail price was $3,085.
In contrast, today's GT-H (they've left out the 350 this time around) is a hot collector car right out of the factory. Prices would definitely be over sticker if collectors could buy one brand new.
Amy Boylan, President of Shelby Automobiles, told us, "We must get 10 calls a day from people wanting to buy a Hertz car. I had a guy last week, he offered me $15,000 if I would sell him one out of the back. I said, they're not my cars. They're Hertz cars, but thanks for the offer." Today, the Shelby brand name is much more widespread in recognition. Some of the first shipments arrived in Phoenix. Gary Patterson at Shelby relayed to us, "They're already backed up weeks and weeks in advance. There's a bidding war going on who can get a car to rent."
Next, enthusiasts are calling to find out how they can buy one after Hertz is done renting the cars. Shelby Automobiles can't help. Ford and Hertz have worked out a plan to sell the Shelbys to the public. When Hertz gets done with the cars, they will be put up at a Ford auction. Ford dealers will be given the chance to bid on the cars and set the prices. Then, they'll resell the cars. This time, the prices will certainly not be under wholesale, like 1967.
In anticipation of these sales to the public, Shelby Automobiles has prepared a "full legacy of information." First, each car will come with the actual aluminum plaque for the dash. For Hertz rentals, Shelby does not install the aluminum plaques in the center of the dash. Somebody could easily steal this plaque. Instead, Shelby installs decals on the dashboards that reveal the Hertz consecutive unit number and the same information on the plaque, basically, that the car is made at Shelby Automobiles in Las Vegas, Nevada.