Miles Cook
August 21, 2006
Photos By: Courtesy of Shelby American

It's 1966 all over again, only this time, it's even better. How so? Forty years later--almost to the day--Shelby, Ford Motor Company, and the Hertz Corporation have again joined forces for a modern interpretation of the ultimate Mustang rental car.

Is the new '06 Hertz Shelby GT-H better than a '66 GT350H? In some ways, it's much better, mainly from a performance standpoint. Is it more collectible than a '66 Hertz Shelby? Not yet, but give it a few years. With only 500 scheduled for production, there's a good chance these new rentals will gain a true collectible following once their rental stints are complete and enthusiasts like us can own one.

Enough questions: Now it's time for some answers. And we've got 'em in the form of an exclusive look at the assembly at the Shelby facility in Las Vegas, along with a detailed examination at what sets an '06 Hertz Shelby GT-H apart from a standard Mustang GT.

Part of what we love about the car is its subtle execution. It's far more low-key than most other specialty Mustangs on the market these days. Not to worry, of course, as plenty of cool updates are a part of the Hertz Shelby program. But frankly, part of what's great about the car is what hasn't been done. The standard 17x8-inch five-spoke wheels and stock 235/55ZR17 Pirelli tires are a good example. With the car's lowered stance, they look good as opposed to over the top with 20-inch tires. Some of the concessions are certainly because these cars are destined for rental fleets, but the by-product is less bling and more function.

All undercarriage work is done on the numerous hoists at the Shelby facility, including suspension-component installation.

While the car is distinct, standing out even on the flashy Las Vegas strip, it's a tasteful new look that nicely accentuates the new S197 Mustang's super-clean retro lines. Starting with black premium-package GTs, the Hertz Shelby transformation begins with a Shelby-exclusive hood that incorporates a subtle 1-inch bulge in the center with a scoop near the front. A pair of hood pins are also added. An updated front fascia, slated for use on the '07 California Special Mustang GT, is added, along with a brushed-aluminum grille that eliminates the foglights found on all other '05-'06 Mustang GTs. As a tribute to the '66 Hertz cars, a running pony is subtly placed on the far driver-side of the front grille. In what we consider good taste, the only add-ons to the side of the car are a pair of scoops, also scheduled to be used on the '07 California Special.

As for emblems, restraint is again a part of the overall vibe. This includes removing the rear "GT" cap on the trunk lid for the standard V-6 cap with a running horse. The trunk lid is also home to a set of vintage-look letters that spell out "Shelby" just above the Pony cap. The front fender-mounted GT emblems are jettisoned in favor of a pair of low-key side emblems that simply say "Hertz."

Of course, no Hertz Shelby, '66 or '06, would be complete without the gold stripes running over the hood, roof, and trunk. There's also a pair of gold rocker stripes with the words "Shelby GT-H." All in all, it's an understated and refined appearance package that many aftermarket designers and stylists could take a hint or two from.

Moving inside, there's not much to improve upon. The GT-Hs have a dash plaque embossed with the Shelby serial number and a set of trick-looking door-sill plates that read "Hertz Shelby GT-H."