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Purpose-built to homologate Ford’s wildly successful new Mustang for SCCA road-racing competition, Carroll Shelby’s original GT350 exemplified Ford’s “Total Performance” attitude and endowed the trendsetting new “ponycar” with an unbeatable high-performance image. On the track, the GT350 utterly dominated the opposition, particularly Chevrolet’s Corvette, to secure three straight SCCA B-Production National Championships in 1965, 1966, and 1967.
On the street, the GT350 was quite a challenging race-bred drive, thanks to its stiffly tuned chassis, high-effort competition brakes, cop-baiting dual exhaust, and squealing rear tires protesting at the mercy of the hard-core Detroit Locker rear end. Several revisions for 1966 successfully maintained the basic character of the GT350 while making it somewhat less demanding on its drivers and passengers.
Taking advantage of the greater production capacity offered by Shelby American’s move to larger production facilities, General Manager Peyton Cramer targeted the Hertz rental-car company as a potential fleet buyer for the GT350. Cramer rightly figured Hertz would be receptive, since it had just switched its rental fleet from Chevrolet to Ford. Knowing that Hertz had built its own cars until 1927 and finished them in black and gold livery, Cramer suggested a special GT350 for Hertz in similar colors. An initial order for 200 cars quickly grew to 1,000 units, representing nearly 40 per cent of total GT350 production for 1966.
The Hertz program generated massive – and free – publicity for Shelby American and drew thousands of potential Ford buyers to new-car showrooms. In 1967, Hertz advertised its 1966 Shelby fleet for sale, with some sold directly from Hertz and a number sold via Ford dealers. Shelby continued to supply Hertz through 1969 and the cars remain highly collectible and famous – perhaps infamous – as “Rent-A-Racers.”
Documented in the Shelby Registry and manufactured in March 1966, the GT350 H was one of 800 black-and-gold cars with automatic transmission sold to the Hertz Rental Corporation. Following completion by Shelby, this GT350 H was shipped to Littleton, Colorado and used briefly as a rental car prior to eventual sale to a new owner in 1967. Subsequently, it was relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, where the Consignor purchased it in 1996. A complete rotisserie, “nut-and-bolt” restoration commenced in 2009 and was completed in 2014 by Carco Automotive Services, which has worked on Shelbys since 1969. The body and paintwork were performed by Hamilton Body Shop, which has painted over 300 Mustangs and Shelbys over the years.
With its glovebox door graced by the late Carroll Shelby’s instantly recognized signature, this 1966 GT350 H is simply impressive throughout. A formidable race-bred performer, the GT350 was recommended in period by Motor Trend testers as “…a sure cure for all strains of boredom.” Once behind the wheel, this rare and iconic thoroughbred is sure to deliver the same adrenaline-laced driving experience today, plus guaranteed collectability to boot!