- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006

Ford Motor Co. and the Hertz rental car firm announced the newest addition to the daily rental fleet: the Ford Mustang.

Not just any Mustang, but the 2006 Shelby GT-H (the H is for Hertz). Named for Carroll Shelby, the 83-year-old godfather of Ford performance, this latest entry will be a special version of the soon-to-be released Shelby GT500 Mustang. Mr. Shelby is still active with Ford on special projects such as this one.

Hertz Shelby Mustangs have not been seen in the fleet since the original Shelby GT350H version in 1966.

At that time 1,000 special Mustangs were put into service, most of them in the familiar black with overbody gold-color LeMans racing stripes.

Not all of the original Hertz Mustangs were black and gold, however.

There were approximately 50 red, 50 green, 50 blue and 50 white GT350H’s made.

In fact, not all the cars even had the gold LeMans stripes. There were approximately 18 with blue rocker panel stripes (one of them resides in the Shelby Automotive Museum in Las Vegas). Some red and green models did not have stripes at all.

These cars quickly became known as the “Rent-A-Racer” program. Although the practice was not encouraged, Mr. Shelby says, “some customers took them to the racetrack and won a trophy.”

Contrary to popular belief, not all GT350H’s had automatic transmissions in the 1966 original fleet.

A total of 85 Hertz cars were built with four-speed manual transmissions.

Customers were especially hard on these drivelines, resulting in the remainder of the cars being equipped with automatic transmissions.

Another anomaly was the plan to use all-steel hoods on these special cars, opposed to the fiberglass versions found on Shelby Mustangs of the time.

In actual production, a random selection of steel and fiberglass hoods appeared on the thousand cars produced.

The original Hertz Mustang was reacquired in 1993 and is on display in the main lobby of the Hertz Corp. headquarters.

The 2006 “Hertz Edition” will be available with five-speed automatic transmissions only.

The paint scheme will be limited to the traditional Hertz colors of black with gold overbody stripes complete with rocker panel body-side gold-color racing stripes.

Unlike the original 1966 Shelby, Sirus Satellite Radio is also a part of the equipment.

Shelby Automobiles Performance hoods with hood pins will further identify these special rentals.

Exterior styling enhancements include a special front fascia and specific lower grille from the Ford Mustang “California Special” edition. Side scoops are borrowed from the same source.

The grille features a brushed-aluminum insert with the “running horse” emblem.

Hertz emblems will adorn the front fenders and a Mustang GT rear spoiler has been added to complete the visual package.

Each vehicle will also feature a numbered sequential Shelby/Hertz dash plaque with Carroll Shelby’s signature.

To attain the desired performance level, genuine Ford performance items enhance the already potent 4.6-liter V-8 with a Ford Racing Performance Power Pack, including a 90mm Cold Air Kit, the Muffler Kit and the special Ford Racing engine calibration.

The Ford Racing Handling Pack includes special dampers, lowering springs, sway bars and strut tower brace, all from Ford Racing Performance Parts.

The Ford Racing 3.55:1-ratio rear axle assembly assures the desired jackrabbit starts.

These modifications increase the overall horsepower to 325 and torque to 330 foot-pounds, a 25 horsepower and 10 foot-pounds of torque increase over the standard Mustang.

Ford Mustang 17X8-inch aluminum wheels with P235/ 55ZR17 performance tires adds to the proper stance and performance needed to get fast food … fast.

Ford plans to produce 500 of the new Hertz Shelby Mustang GTs.

Assembly will take place at Shelby Automobiles, Inc., Las Vegas, Nevada.

Many enthusiasts will line-up to rent this new muscle car, but many more will anxiously await the day these cars will come out of rental service for an opportunity to purchase what they hope will be an instant collectable.

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