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.

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