Just before Christmas 1965, Hertz ordered 1000 ''rent a racer'' Shelby GT350
fastbacks, most of which would be clad in it's company's colors of (Raven) Black
with gold tape side stripes that read GT350H at each front fender and twin wide gold
painted ''LeMans''stripes over the upper surface, front to rear. Automatic transmissions
were most common by far, although eighty-five 4 speed equipped units did manage to
slip through the cracks. Like all the other Shelby's built in 1965 and 1966, they
were powered by Fords infamous 289 cid 4v High Performance engine. These Hi-Po 289s
were rated at 271 horsepower from Ford, before Shelby's crew added engine upgrades
that raised it's output to 306 hp.
It is generally accepted through what documentation exists, approximately two
hundred units were delivered with other Shelby standard colors of Wimbledon White,
Candy Apple Red, Sapphire Blue (actually a Thunderbird color), and Ivy Green. The
''Shelby American World Registry Books'' contain a wealth of information about all
the Shelby Ford automobiles.
Certain modifications to the standard GT350s were performed before being pressed
into rental duty as the newly designated ''GT350H''. Stock am radio was added by
Shelby American. Some units were equipped with a tamper-proof speedometer cables,
a few units sent to San Francisco had a flashing parking brake warning light that
reminded the driver to release the handle. A warning label affixed to the dash or
dash pad center warned of the extra pedal pressure required for the competition style
Extra brake pedal effort was not received very well by Hertz as many cars were
being damaged by it's unsuspecting customers and lot attendants who quickly learned
to push in the hand operated choke before driving to prevent a runaway vehicle!
Prospective renters were required to take a simple driving test before qualifying
to become a bonafide ''Hertz Sports Car Club'' member. Members also had to be at
least 25 years old prior to receiving the keys.
Running changes were a common occurrence, as the cars modified by Shelby were
being built in small batches at a time. Building larger quantities of cars at a faster
pace forced these changes as well as reducing labor to increase cost efficiency and
therefore, profits for FoMoCo. Few people who ordered a new Shelby GT350 really cared
about things like over ride traction bars, Koni Shock Absorbers or relocated upper
control arms. Many owners found the nine inch 389:1 ratio ''locker'' differential
a bit uncivilized and welcomed the conventional gears.
More than average rental car abuse was incurred as GT350H's were frequently seen
on the local drag strips and racing courses across America!
After these fearless fillies served their rental service for about a year, Ford
Motor Company dealerships, or Shelby's High Performance Motors would usually be their
destination, to be sold to the public.
A group of 18 standard Wimbleton White GT350 cars with blue
side stripes were shipped late January- early February 1966.
11 of these were
sent to ''S&C Ford'', a dealership in San Francisco who prepped them and shipped
to San Fransisco's Hertz Office. They were to be used as a ''control
group'' for the monitoring of alleged braking deficiencies. Another three went
to Los Angeles, to Shelby's "Hi Performance Motors'' Dealership in El Segundo,
California, which was located near Shelby American's L.A. headquarters.