Cars

History’s Greatest Rental Car: The '66 Shelby Mustang

You can rent pretty much any vehicle you want today, up to and including Ferraris, McLarens, and Bentleys. But it wasn’t always like that, which is why the Shelby GT350 Hertz is such an important car. For a while, this one was actually owned by Shelby himself, and it’s up for grabs at RM’s Monterey auction.

Carroll Shelby was as good a salesman as he was a driver, so it shouldn’t really surprise anyone that he played an integral part in the first performance rental car. Mechanically, the GT350 H is identical to any other GT350, with Hertz’s gold and black colors filling in the otherwise all-Shelby paint scheme.

The 300 hp car was already known by the public as an outstanding performer, and the partnership with Hertz meant that anyone could walk up to a Hertz counter, shell out all of $17 per day (plus 17 cents per mile), and enjoy that performance for himself.

And enjoy it they certainly did. So many people picked up a Shelby on a Friday, raced it at actual tracks all weekend, and dropped it off Monday, that it was called “Rent-a-Racer,” even by Hertz. Urban legend even has it that some people welded roll cages in the cars, competed in wheel-to-wheel SCCA races, cut the cages out, and returned the car, all in a weekend. And you thought you were rough on that last Focus you rented?

This specific car, once retired from the kind of rental car abuse most of us can only dream of, wound up in the hands of a few extremely well known collectors before ultimately being purchased by Carroll himself.


Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor. He drives every rental car like it’s a Rent-a-Racer. Follow him to the Hertz blacklist on Twitter.