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Shelby American and Hertz: Blazing New Roads Together

  • 3 July 2024
  • Author: SAI-JohnE
  • Number of views: 110

Shelby American and Hertz have been trailblazers since they were both founded. Hertz is the only American car rental company to reach 100 years in business and Shelby is the only American carmaker to win the FIA Sports Car World Championship. They made history together for the first time in 1966 when they launched the first “rent-a-race” with the 1966 Shelby GT350-H, which was also the initial vehicle in Hertz’s sports car collection.

The car became an instant cultural hit. Enthusiasts purportedly rented them to road and drag race over the weekends. Movie star James Garner drove one in the international film “Grand Prix” and people clamored to buy one when the Shelby GT350-H was retired from rental fleets.

Decades later, the interest in Shelby and Hertz vehicles continues to be strong. From Tom Cruise driving a 1966 Shelby GT350-H in his movie “War of the Worlds” to posters adorning the walls of adolescents, the car was seared into the minds of fans everywhere.

In 2006 and 2007, Hertz and Shelby collaborated on new Shelby vehicles based on the Ford Mustang, including the first Shelby and Hertz convertible.

“Carroll knew how strongly people wanted another Shelby Hertz collaboration, so he had his team put together a program that would reignite that flame forty years after our first car together,” explained Gary Patterson, president of Shelby American. “We created a new Shelby Hertz Mustang based on the newly introduced ‘S197” chassis 2005 Ford Mustang and the response was fantastic. That program resulted in a fastback Shelby GT-H Mustang for the 2006 model year and a convertible for 2007.”

When the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Shelby GT350-H rolled around, the two companies and Ford Motor Company once again began talking about another program. Everyone was excited to build a special rental car for enthusiasts again.

“The 1966 Ford Shelby GT350-H became a legend from the moment it was introduced,” said Joe      Conway, Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and CEO of Shelby American. “The 2006 Ford Shelby GT-H earned the same ‘rock star’ status when it was introduced at the New York Auto Show. We worked closely with Ford Performance to make the 2016 Shelby GT-H the most exciting Mustang ever to wear the iconic Hertz black and gold livery.”

As a throwback to the famed Shelby GT350-H “Rent-A-Racer” program of the 1960s, a total of 140 2016 Ford Shelby GT-Hs were built and made available exclusively through the Hertz Adrenaline Collection at select airport locations in the continental United States.

“In 1966, Carroll Shelby and Hertz saw an opportunity to put customers in the driver’s seat of high-performance special edition Shelby’s,” noted Tracey Smith, Executive Vice President with Carroll Shelby International. “Ford supplied the new Mustangs with V8 engines and mostly automatic transmissions, Shelby added extra performance and style and Hertz gave the public access to a unique driving experience through what was known then as its new ’Ren-A-Racer’ program. The companies repeated the same formula for the successful Ford Shelby GT-H program in 2006. The story of the Shelby/Hertz ‘Rent-A-Racer’ is legendary, and the cars are coveted by collectors worldwide.” 

Shelby American, Ford and Hertz repeated history to give the 2016 Ford Shelby GT-H a very classic, muscular look with additional performance capabilities. As with the past two generations, the 2016 Ford Shelby GT-H was instantly recognizable with several styling enhancements to celebrate its heritage. Each Shelby GT-H wore black exterior paint, set off with gold racing stripes, a hallmark of Hertz vehicles dating back to the 1920s. Shelby’s traditional "Le Mans" dual racing stripes combined with a set of rocker stripes that include special "Shelby GT-H" nomenclature. Each car had a Hertz Edition emblem on the front fenders and featured Hertz Shelby GT-H sill plates and a numbered badge.

“Ford Performance supplied a cat-back performance exhaust for a beautiful, throaty sound,” stated Vince LaViolette, Vice President of Production for Shelby American. “To put all the horsepower to the ground, it had the Ford Racing Handling Pack, including special-tuned dampers, lowering springs, sway bars and a staggered wheel kit. The Shelby GT-H rode on 19-inch aluminum wheels wearing high performance Michelin rubber.”

To hint at the 5.0 liter V8 engine’s capabilities, the Ford Shelby GT-H was fitted with a unique Shelby-designed vented hood, carbon fiber front splitter and rear spoiler. Special badges appeared in the front grille, rear faux gas cap and trunk lid. Inside, Shelby GT-H logos were on the head restraint, sill plates and floor mats.

The car was a hit and in 2022, old friends reunited once again. Hertz and Shelby American announced a new three-year agreement, the longest between the two companies in their history, kicking it off with exclusive 2022 Shelby edition Ford Mustangs.

The collection included Mustang Shelby GT500-H fastbacks modified with 900+ horsepower and Ford Shelby Mustang GT-H fastbacks and convertibles, each created specifically for Hertz. The vehicles pay tribute to the original “Rent-A-Racer,” the legendary 1966 Shelby GT350-H, and build on Hertz’s legacy of giving their customers the unique opportunity to drive elite, high-performance vehicles they can’t access anywhere else. As these vehicles rotate out of Hertz’s rental fleet later this year, collectors and enthusiasts alike will have the opportunity to own one by purchasing through a Hertz Car Sales retail location

“The 2022 Shelby Hertz Ford Mustang program was just the beginning,” stated Patterson. “We hope to develop several different models that will broaden the menu of enthusiast vehicles available at Hertz from Shelby. This is a very exciting time for the two companies.”

Regardless of the model, Shelby American will complete the vehicles at its assembly facility in Las Vegas and document them in the official Shelby American Registry. With production limited and exclusively destined for Hertz rental fleets across the country, the special-edition Shelby vehicles will give Hertz customers a truly exclusive driving experience.

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