James Groth of
Miles Ahead Communications
Mustang is the Ford model that massively succeeded in attracting cross generation people seeking a youthful image. As a marketing strategy Ford succeed beyond anyones imagination. Today Mustang rivals its creator as its it own brand. In some ways Mustang as a brand is actually bigger.That’s a serious sales and marketing success story and a car people universally admire.I wrote the attached test drive of the Hertz/Shelby GT-H from the POV of an executive flying into LAX for business followed by fun and business at the weeks events in Monterey, CA at the Laguna Raceway, the Pebble Beach Concour and collector auctions. A car guy or gal would not drive an ordinary rental car to these events if there were a sporty choice. Hertz is known for creating the ultimate rental experience in the mid-sixties. I think they got it right with the latest and affordable GT-H too. Learn about the legendary Hertz Shelby GT 350 and the 2006 reprise Hertz/Shelby GT-H.For Mustang fans be certain to see the Ford exhibit of all Mustang models at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The exhibit includes an example of the Hertz/Shelby GT-H and an original Shelby GT 350.
James Groth Describes His Six Days In The Latest Edition Of The Famous Hertz’s Rent a Racer, Now Known As The Shelby GT-H
Under a cloak of early morning darkness, I am behind the wheel of a thunderous-sounding Shelby GT-H in Hertz livery, black with a pair of dual over body gold racing stripes. Yesterday I picked up this Rent-a-Racer, showing only six miles on the odometer, from Hertz at LAX. The Shelby GT-H is one of the 36 models in the Hertz Fun Collection, available at 18 US airports. The rental process was quick and efficient. The place did look like a car collector’s garage with a whole row of GT-H’s at the ready.
First stop, the exclusive Sport Club of LA. The five-story garage is full of prestige cars –whatever is new or hot. I figure the Shelby will get the heads turning, however, my air of exclusivity disappears as I notice an identical car in the garage.
My first chance to feel some of the potent 325 hp of the 4.6 liter, SOHC, 3-valve V-8 is on a twisty canyon road. Perhaps I am not used to the live-axle rear end, but that first run on brand new tires feels a bit out of sorts.
The Shelby GT-H differs from the standard Mustang GT, and it all starts at the Carroll Shelby shop in Las Vegas. Here the Shelby team adds the Ford FR 1 Power Pack, gain- ing 25 hp and 10 lb-ft of torque, and Ford’s Racing 90mm Cold Air Kit. This power is tucked under the hood which is secured with a pair of custom Shelby hood pins. The addition of the brushed aluminum grille gives the front end a serious look. And that sonorous exhaust note comes from an X-pipe muffler kit, similar to the one used on the Shelby GT-500 Mustang. To better get the power transferred to the road, the Shelby team exchanges the standard GT’s 3:31 rear end with an entirely new assembly with 3:55 gears for superior low-to-mid range performance. Shelby lists the 0-60 mph at 5.2 seconds, putting the car in a select class, particularly for its $35,000 price. Speaking of buying one, Ford dealers will have them available after each has accumulated 16- to 18,000 miles.
During part of my six days with the standard Mustang coupe I had made a pilgrimage out to my former college. I found that Mustang to be light in the rear end and “squirrelly” in the rain. Originally, I planned to see if a Shelby was still “BMOC.” But now that I have driven the GT-H version, I think that it would certainly be in the top few on campus. Interestingly, the GT-H did earn a marvelous compliment from an unexpected source when a toll booth operator commented, “What a handsome-looking car.”
One evening I met up with friends from out of town, each in his own rental Mustang convertible. They took great interest in the Shelby GT-H. One, Brett Marlowe, had rented the Shelby GT-H the month before. His reason interested me.
Brett’s dad Jim owned a Shelby GT 500 when Brett was six. Brett remembered, “the green color, loud exhaust, and surges of power from the 428 cubic inch dual-quad motor.” When he heard of the Hertz-Shelby GT-H, he was inspired to connect with his dad and what he had experienced in those earlier days when Ford took international racing seriously enough to beat Ferrari, three years in a row. Brett found the Shelby GT-H, “solid, responsive but not snappy, and conveyed what was happening with warning.”
The dash badge sporting Carroll Shelby’s signature and each car’s number will be replaced with an aluminum ver- sion when each car is retailed. I am feeling dashing myself with the perforated black leather seats matching the perforation of my Bernini leather jacket. The seats are handsome and supportive while the rest of the interior is essentially Mustang GT.
Each Shelby GT-H is equipped with a 5-speed automatic and non-defeat traction control – remember these are rentals. The Shelby team’s suspension tuning works so well. They have added the Ford FR 3 Racing Pack which includes specially-tuned dampers, 65% stiffer springs, larger anti-roll bars, a strut tower brace, making a car that is 1.5 inches lower. And, yes, the lowering does risk scraping on nearly everything.
Running in third gear most of the most of the time keeps the revs up so the motor responds to any situation. Occasionally I need to pull second gear for a blind tight turn. But no matter, the Shelby handles everything and instills confidence. With 2.8 turns lock to lock, the steering is quick and precise. Point the car – it responds. When need- ed, the 12.4 in. front and 11.8 in. rear vented disc brakes do an outstanding job of hauling down the 3,600 lb car quickly. The weight distribution front to rear is 54/46, and I had an opportunity to experience the traction control as it effectively kept the rear end planted and me on the road. Yet it is set up so that it does not spoil the driving experience while adding that additional element of safety.
A wave to road graders laying fresh asphalt; this section of road is smoother than a track. I manage to get in some miles uninterrupted, until I am stopped along with some other cars. When we are allowed to get underway again, the driver of one of the cars says he plans to stay far behind so that my 235/55ZR17 Pirelli PZero Nero’s do not spit asphalt on his car.
On a decent straightaway, I take the opportunity to try out the Shelby GT-H passing capabilities. Here comes that awesome sound again as I stab the accelerator and the car jumps ahead. It has blinding acceleration from cruising speeds; 45 to 65 mph in a mere 2.6 seconds. And it effortlessly climbs the 7% grade of the road ahead.
That thunderous sound, the marvelous exhaust note, is reason enough to rent one. According to the Shelby Automobiles Inc vice president of Marketing, Joe Jacuzzi, the goal was to create a well-balanced car while adding performance and suspension upgrades. After my 800 miles behind the wheel, I would say that they definitely hit their performance target with the Shelby GT-H. The car got a “thumbs up” from the teens, the retired, and me.
I was also curious to see if I could find out whether the Shelby GT350H Rent-a-Racer leg- end is fact or myth. The registrars for the Shelby America Automobile Club, the ’65-’66 Shelby GT350 SAAC, and the Curator and Librarian of the International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen, and numerous owners and renters seemed to conclude that it is 98% myth. Some cars made it to the racetrack after their rental period, however most went only as far as a drag strip, which makes sense if you only need a helmet to run. Ted Anderson, owner of Hertz Northwest, recalled renting a Shelby GT350H. He disconnected the mufflers, shoe-polished a number on the window, and ripped off a dozen hot runs in the car at a nearby drag strip before returning it.
In a Hertz lottery, Ted won the right to purchase Shelby GT-H # 949 for his franchise. He picked it up at Shelby’s Las Vegas headquarters and drove it the 2,000 miles to home. This car will not see rental action as Ted is keeping it for himself. But while he was at Shelby, he learned what was behind the addictive thunderous exhaust. Shelby’s engineers were given a tape of the Steve McQueen film Bullitt and told to recreate the sound in the GT-H.
Displacement, cc 4606
Bore/stroke, mm 90.2/90.0
Compression Ratio 9.8:1
Valvetrain SOHC, 3v
Fuel del electronic seq, cold kit
Wheelbase, in. 107.1
Track, f/r, in. 62.3/62.5
O/A weight, lbs 3540
Brakes disc, 4 channel ABS
Rotors f/r ventilated 11.5/11.8
Gearbox 5-spd auto/rev
Susp f/r struts/3-link live axle
0-60 sec. 5.0
Top Speed electronic limit, 147
EPA mileage 16/23
Mission accomplished! Make your reservation with Hertz to experience a Shelby
GT-H at 800-654-3131.