2006 Ford Mustang & Ford Shelby GT-H Image Gallery
2006 Ford Mustang & Ford Shelby GT-H Image Gallery

The 2006 Ford Mustang V-6 Premium model was available with a Pony Package option that included several Mustang GT styling cues, including grille-mounted fog lamps. See more pictures of the 2006 Ford Mustang & the Ford Shelby GT-H.

2006 Ford Mustang and Ford Shelby GT-H Overview

The 2006 Ford Mustang wasn't itself altered significantly as it carried the redesigned car into its second season. But that certainly didn't mean there was nothing new in Ford's pony car stable.

A new option package enabled buyers to dress base Premium models in GT trim. This $1195 Pony Package included small GT-style grille-mounted fog lamps and a rear spoiler, plus ABS and traction control. It also added a GT-inspired suspension featuring a larger front stabilizer bar, plus a rear stabilizer bar and P235/55ZR17 tires on painted cast-aluminum wheels. With bright machined rims and unique tri-bar Pony center caps, these were the largest factory wheels and tires ever fitted to a V-6 Mustang. And GTs finally were available with the extra-cost 18-inch wheels.

Bigger news came not in the showroom, but on the car-rental lot, of all places. Head of Ford design, J Mays, had said back in 2004 to expect a series of special-edition Mustangs to keep the stallion kicking, and it didn't take long for some exceptional variations on a winning theme.First to be announced was the Shelby GT500. This came in Spring 2005 at the New York Auto Show. But that was well ahead of the car's introduction as a 2007 model. Announced at the 2006 New York show, and introduced as a 2006 model, was the Ford Shelby GT-H.This was a throwback to the famed Shelby GT350H "Rent-A-Racer" program from the 1960s. Ford Motor Company, Shelby Automobiles and the Hertz Corporation partnered to produce a special run of 500 performance-modified Mustang GTs and called them the Shelby GT-H.The H stood for Hertz. The cars were available for rent exclusively through the Hertz Fun Collection at select airport locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.The program recalled the 1966 teaming of Shelby and Hertz that got Shelby Mustang GT-350s into the hands of rental customers. Those Shelby GT350H Mustangs became sought-after collector cars.Prepared with assistance from the Ford Racing Performance Group, each Shelby GT-H wore black exterior paint set off in gold by Shelby's traditional "Le Mans" dual racing stripes. Rocker stripes included Shelby GT-H nomenclature. Each car wore a Hertz Edition emblem on the front fenders, Hertz Shelby GT-H sill plates, and a numbered dashboard badge with Carroll Shelby's signature.

The 2006 Ford Shelby GT-H, shown here with a 1966 Shelby Mustang GT-350H, reignited a 40-year link when Ford made this Shelby-modified 325-horsepower Mustang available at selected Hertz rental outlets.

Custom bodywork included a Shelby Performance hood with pins, a brushed aluminum grille with running horse emblem, unique front fascia with integrated lower grille, and side scoops. The Mustang GT's brakes were dressed up with painted calipers, visible through the GT-H's 17-inch aluminum wheels wearing P235/55ZR17 performance rubber.

Ford Racing Performance Group supplied its popular Power Pack kit to add 25 horsepower to the 300-horse Mustang GT 4.6-liter V-8. It raised torque by 10 pounds feet to 330. With the unpredictable skills of rental customers in mind, all 500 GT-Hs got Mustang's five-speed automatic transmission. In place of the 3.31:1 rear axle ratio used by automatic GTs, however, the GT-H got a Ford Racing 3.55:1 ratio rear axle assembly.

The package included Ford Racing's 90mm Cold Air kit, the Muffler Kit, a new X-pipe similar to the one used on the Ford Shelby GT500, and a performance calibration and a cat-back performance exhaust.

To put that extra horsepower to the ground, the Ford Shelby GT-H came with the Ford Racing Handling Pack that included special-tuned dampers, lowering springs, sway bars and a strut-tower brace.

Getting your hands on a rental Ford Shelby GT-H wasn't easy, but reviewers and enthusiasts enjoyed the ride. Keep reading to learn about the quick and fun-to-drive Ford Shelby GT-H rental racer.

  • Saddle up for the complete story of America's best-loved sporty car. How the Ford Mustang Works chronicles the legend from its inception in the early 1960s to today's all-new Mustang.
  • The 2005 Mustang's shape was ordained by a superstar stylist with a European pedigree. Learn how the original pony car was reborn in 2005 Ford Mustang.
  • The highlight of the '07 model year for the 2007 Ford Mustang was Shelby GT500, the most powerful production Mustang ever. Read all about it in 2007 Ford Mustang and Shelby GT500 and Shelby GT.
  • Ford muscle cars were among the top performers of the muscle car era. Check out profiles, photos, and specifications of some tough Ford muscle cars.
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The Ford Shelby GT-H models were rental-only cars, available through Hertz until they were eventually released to dealer auctions.

Driving the Ford Shelby GT-H

The Ford Shelby GT-H was a throwback to the famed Shelby GT350H "Rent-A-Racer" program from the 1960s. These high-end racers were available only through Hertz, so would-be racers had to make a reservation in order to try one out.

That meant even automotive journalists in search of test subjects were in the odd position of reserving their rides from designated Hertz outlets, just like anyone else. Location, demand, and time of year affect rental car rates, and that was true for the GT-H. The initial fee in Los Angeles, for example, was $149.99 per day. At the same time in Las Vegas, it was $189.99. That included just the first 75 miles. Each additional mile cost 39 cents.

Renters had to be 25 or older, and had to show trip and residency documentation to prove they were in fact out-of-town travelers and not just locals looking for a good time.

Everyone liked the bark from the modified exhaust system, and most testers noticed a sense of additional structural rigidity from the strut-tower brace. The ride was stiffer than that of a Mustang GT, a bit too taut for some on bumpy roads, but the handling was sharper.

Acceleration was harder to gauge. Some testers said the additional 25 horsepower went largely unnoticed, though the car was quick and fun to drive.

Motor Trend saw 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds, compared to a best 5.1 in its test of a stock GT automatic. The editors attributed what additional quickness there was mostly to the 3.55:1 gearing.

But the story of this car was more than just in the numbers, be they on the stopwatch or on the credit card bill.

Renting the speedy Shelby GT-H racer was expensive, but drivers agreed that the experience was worth every penny.

"Yes, the GT-H was expensive," wrote Julian Balme in Automobile, "but imagine a rental car that introduces you to an entirely new circle of friends, actually makes you smile every time you hit the gas pedal, gives you instant credibility among gearheads, and is a car you are reluctant to give back."

Of course everyone had to give the car back. The program called for each GT-H to be in the Hertz fleet for up to 9 months or so, piling up a maximum of 18,000 miles. They were then to be sold through dealer auctions. What they might fetch there was anyone's guess, but Ford, Shelby, and Hertz donated the very first one off the line to an Experimental Aircraft Association Gathering of Eagles fundraising auction. It brought a winning bid of $250,000.

The 500 GT-H was a drop in the bucket of total 2006 Mustang production, which was up by some 5000 over 2005, to 166,530 for calendar '06.

  • Saddle up for the complete story of America's best-loved sporty car. How the Ford Mustang Works chronicles the legend from its inception in the early 1960s to today's all-new Mustang.
  • The 2005 Mustang's shape was ordained by a superstar stylist with a European pedigree. Learn how the original pony car was reborn in 2005 Ford Mustang.
  • The highlight of the '07 model year for the 2007 Ford Mustang was Shelby GT500, the most powerful production Mustang ever. Read all about it in 2007 Ford Mustang and Shelby GT500 and Shelby GT.
  • Ford muscle cars were among the top performers of the muscle car era. Check out profiles, photos, and specifications of some tough Ford muscle cars.
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