1966 Shelby GT350H: The Hertz Rental Connection

The 1966 Shelby GT350H is a legendary muscle car that holds a special place in automotive history. This iconic vehicle, showcased in the Muscle Car of the Week video series, continues to captivate enthusiasts with its striking design and exhilarating performance. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of the 1966 Shelby GT350H, exploring its origins, unique features, and the significance it holds in the hearts of car enthusiasts around the world.

Origins of the Shelby GT350

The Shelby GT350 lineage traces its roots back to 1965 when Ford sought to create a competitive race car for the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). They turned to Carroll Shelby, a renowned automotive engineer, to transform the Ford Mustang into a high-performance track machine. The GT350 was born, combining the sleek design of the Mustang with Shelby’s modifications and performance enhancements.

In 1966, Ford and Shelby aimed to make the GT350 production process more efficient while expanding the reach of these exceptional vehicles. This led to the creation of the Shelby GT350H, commonly known as the “Rent-a-Racer.” The “H” in its name stood for Hertz, the famous car rental company that collaborated with Shelby to offer these high-performance Mustangs for rent.

Special Features of the GT350H

The 1966 Shelby GT350H retained many of the performance-oriented features of its predecessor, with some notable modifications to enhance drivability. It boasted a lightweight body, aggressive styling, and a powerful 289 cubic inch V8 engine. The car featured gold LeMans stripes, polished horizontal ribs on the front grille, and Shelby’s iconic rocker panel stripes, now in sticker form for easier application.

The GT350H program was a strategic move by Hertz to attract customers who desired an exhilarating driving experience. Hertz initially ordered a couple of prototypes to test, and upon realizing their potential, they placed an order for an additional 1,000 GT350Hs. This program allowed customers to rent a Shelby before committing to a purchase, providing a unique opportunity to experience the thrill of driving a legendary muscle car.

The Heart of Power: The V8 Engine

At the core of the 1966 Shelby GT350H lies a formidable V8 engine. This high-performance powerhouse is a 289 cubic inch V8, commonly known as the “K-Code” engine. With its Shelby-specific aluminum intake manifold, carburetor, and exhaust system, this engine delivers impressive performance and an exhilarating driving experience. The throaty roar and raw power unleashed by the V8 engine make the GT350H a true muscle car icon.

To further enhance the performance of the 1966 Shelby GT350H, Carroll Shelby and his team implemented several performance upgrades to the engine. These upgrades included modifications to the cylinder heads, camshaft, and valve train, resulting in increased horsepower and torque. The GT350H’s engine was finely tuned to deliver optimal power and responsiveness, allowing drivers to feel the adrenaline rush as they unleashed the car’s full potential on the open road.

The engineering behind the V8 engine in the 1966 Shelby GT350H showcases the meticulous attention to detail and craftsmanship that went into its development. Each component was carefully selected and designed to maximize performance and durability. From the robust block construction to the precisely calibrated fuel and ignition systems, every aspect of the engine was meticulously engineered to deliver exceptional performance. This dedication to engineering excellence is a testament to the legacy of Carroll Shelby and the passion for creating high-performance machines that define the Shelby GT350H.

The Allure of the Candy Apple Red

The exterior design of the 1966 Shelby GT350H is a timeless classic that continues to turn heads even decades later. Its iconic design features a muscular and aggressive stance that commands attention on the road. With its sleek and aerodynamic lines, the GT350H exudes a sense of speed and power.

One of the standout features of the GT350H is its striking color scheme. While most Hertz rental cars were black with gold stripes, this particular model breaks the mold with its vibrant candy apple red paint. This rare color choice adds a touch of uniqueness and exclusivity to an already iconic vehicle.

The GT350H boasts several distinctive styling elements that set it apart from its Mustang counterpart. The front grille features polished horizontal ribs, giving the car a bold and refined look. The clear plexiglass rear quarter windows add a modern touch, while the gold Le Mans stripes running over the hood and roof enhance the car’s sporty appeal.

The attention to detail in the exterior design of the GT350H is evident in its Shelby-specific markings. The unmistakable Shelby Cobra emblem adorns the front grille, while the side rocker panels proudly display the iconic GT350H stripes. These stickers, although easier to apply than painted stripes, maintain the car’s sporty aesthetics.

Completing the exterior package are the optional wheels available for the GT350H. Drivers could choose from grey painted Magnum 500 style wheels, chrome Magnum 500 wheels, or the cast alloy 10-spoke Shelby wheels. These wheels not only enhance the car’s overall look but also contribute to its exceptional performance and handling capabilities.

Rarity and Collectibility

The 1966 Shelby GT350H holds a special place in automotive history due to its limited production numbers and association with Hertz. The fact that these cars were once available for rental and subjected to the wear and tear of enthusiastic drivers adds to their allure and collectibility. Today, finding an original, well-preserved GT350H is a dream come true for muscle car enthusiasts and collectors alike.

The GT350H was just one chapter in the ongoing evolution of the Shelby GT350 series. Over the years, the GT350 lineup expanded, offering different variants, improved performance, and refined design elements. Despite the changes, the spirit and legacy of the original GT350H continue to inspire future iterations of the iconic Shelby Mustang.


The 1966 Shelby GT350H represents the convergence of two iconic American brands: Shelby and Hertz. This extraordinary collaboration resulted in a limited production run of high-performance rental cars that captured the hearts of car enthusiasts. The GT350H’s rarity, unique design elements, and storied history make it an enduring symbol of the golden age of muscle cars.

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