1966 Shelby GT 350H'Hertz' Fastback
Year of manufacture1966
To be OFFERED AT AUCTION at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale event, April 1-3, 2016.
$120,000 - $140,000 US
“There are only 1,000 of these for rent in the entire world. Hertz has them all.” So Hertz Rent A Car declared in automotive enthusiast magazine ads when the Shelby GT 350H burst on the scene in 1966.
In 1966, Carroll Shelby struck a deal with Hertz to offer a high performance rental car to the public for the first time. This made the legendary performance of the Shelby GT 350 accessible to the general public. The GT 350 had been around for just a year, but it had already gained an excellent reputation both on the street and on race tracks across the country.
The Ford Mustang had an amazingly successful introduction in April 1964; the popularity was undeniable and the Mustang would become a fixture in the Ford lineup. The Shelby Mustang came about because Ford division boss Lee Iacocca wanted the Mustang to have more of a high profile image through performance.
Carroll Shelby managed Ford-powered Cobra sports car team which would capture the 1965 International Sportscar Championship for GT Manufacturers and was asked to boost the performance of the standard Mustang.
The street specification Mustang GT 350, introduced for the 1965 model year, sold briskly; however, they were fundamentally thinly-disguised racecars. As a result, the 1966 GT 350 became more user friendly due to a host of mechanical revisions that tempered the edges and made the cars more amenable. Some changes from the 1965 model included the installation of Plexiglass quarter-windows instead of the previous year’s air vents, functional quarter-panel air-scoops that feed cool air to the rear brakes, an optional SelectShift three-speed automatic transmission, the exhaust was extended back further from the cockpit and the Cobra GT 350 logo was added to the gas cap. The interior saw the addition of a fold-down rear-seat, deluxe woodgrain steering wheel and Cobra tachometer. All GT 350s featured competition seat belts. The GT Equipment Group included the high performance V-8 engine, dual exhaust system, foglamps, grille bar, special ornamentation, front disc brakes, special handling components package and GT striping.
They found an interested audience and 1966 sales climbed to a total of 2,380, aided by the large order from the Hertz Rental Car Company. Peyton Cramer, Shelby’s brilliant marketing man and his general manager at the time, was asked to attempt selling fleet sales. Even Shelby must have been surprised when Cramer returned from a sales pitch to Hertz with an order for 1,000 cars. The Hertz Corporation had decided to jump on the performance bandwagon. Hertz, as a brave marketing concept, had previously created The Hertz Sports Car Club, whose purpose was to provide a limited number of high-performance rentals to customers “over 25 and qualified to handle such vehicles.”
Offering such an incredible car as the GT 350 truly set Hertz apart from rental car companies of the day. Enthusiasts that might not have been able to afford purchasing such a car could now rent it on a Friday afternoon and drop it off at Hertz on Monday morning, after a weekend full of racing or high-speed cruising. The cost to rent all this performance was just $17 a day and 17 cents per mile; or $70 per week. “Yipes! Stripes! Let Hertz put you in the driver’s seat.”
As many saw hard lives while seeing duty as a “rent-a-racers,” it is often difficult to find an example such as this, reported with its original engine and a complete ownership history verified by the esteemed Shelby Registry.
According to this written history, this is a true four owner Shelby GT 350H whose record first mentions the car as finished in Ivy Green and having a radio installed at Hi-Performance Motors in El Segundo, California on January 31, 1966. It was then shipped to S&C Motors, Inc. in San Francisco on February 9, 1966 for dealer prep prior to delivery to the Hertz rental fleet at the San Francisco airport. Hertz was invoiced $3,514, plus $104.56 for chromed Magnum 500 wheels along with $45.45 for the radio and with freight totaled $3,865.34.
Once its service was no longer required by Hertz; Shelby number 6S859 was received back at Shelby American in Los Angeles on March 3, 1967. The Shelby’s next destination was to Seattle, Washington by rail on May 29, 1967 and then on to Harris Ford in Lynwood, Washington. Mr. Bruce Mabbett came to Harris Ford and found a selection of approximately 10 Shelby GT 350 Hertz models on the property for sale. He selected this particular car as it was the cleanest of the bunch with the fewest miles, and he made the car his own on July 19, 1967. Mr. Mabbett had recently begun working for Boeing Aircraft fresh out of college and had very little money. He purchased the Shelby for $2,995 after putting $15 to hold it and then an additional $635 down before financing the balance through Chattel Mortgage. While in the Seattle area, it was the gentleman’s daily driver and made many trips between Seattle and his original home in the Vancouver area.
In 1969 Bruce moved back to his home in Canada and in 1971 he had the car painted British Racing Green with white side stripes without the “H” – he relayed that it was “not cool to drive an ex-Hertz rental car” at the time. In 1974 he had the engine rebuilt and replaced the C4 automatic transmission and installed the four-speed manual variety that is still in the car today. Mr. Mabbett continued to drive the car on a daily basis until 1979 when he stopped using it in the winter months. At that time he executed “fairly extensive rebuild on the whole car and returned the color to the original Ivy Green with gold stripes. Ten spoke Shelby wheels adorned the car for a period, as did a front spoiler, and in 1987, Mr. Mabbett decided to do a full frame-off restoration when it was painted in Wimbledon White with blue stripes and the original engine was changed for a 351-cid unit.
The original 289-cid V-8 was reinstalled in 2000, and in 2005 the engine was rebuilt as new for the third time and the accumulated mileage has been rather limited since. The car was occasionally autocrossed on random weekends, but the driving of the Shelby was virtually stopped altogether. The Shelby GT 350H was reported as having all of its original sheetmetal and floors and was stated to still be a “show car with a nice patina that runs as good as any new Shelby does.”
After Hertz ownership and then another 41 years of private single ownership, this Shelby has experienced two subsequent and caring owners. Along with all of the respected Shelby equipment onboard; this wonderful car has its original bill of sale, finance contract, first registration, and photo documentation through the years since 1972. The owner conveys that this may be one of the most documented Hertz Shelbys and is ready for road rallying or showing. A period-correct C4 automatic transmission also accompanies this legendary machine.
To further convey its unique identity, approximately 800 of the Hertz GT 350s were liveried in Raven Black with gold stripes and came with the chrome Magnum 500 wheels. Approximately 200 others were finished in Candyapple Red, Ivy Green, Sapphire Blue and Wimbledon White.
1966 Shelby GT 350H 'Hertz' Fastback