The 1960s gave birth to a number of vehicular legends that today command big crowds and high prices on the auction circuit. These cars run the gamut across many makes and models, and some vehicles that seemed destined for the junkyard instead became the hottest ticket in town. One such car is the Shelby GT350-H, the original “weekend warrior” rental racecar that is today one of the most valuable Mustangs on the market.
Funnyman and gearhead Jay Leno is helping Hertz celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original “Rent-A-Racer” program by having both a 1966 Shelby G350-H, as well as a 2016 Shelby GT-H, on this week’s episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. With Leno’s typically impressive video production efforts, this one is an informative half-hour program that any Mustang lover should take the time to watch.
For a relative pittance of $17 a day and just 17-cents per mile, you could rent an all-out Shelby race car with the GT350-H, as Mr. Shelby refused to detune the car in any way for the rental market. Today, renting a Shelby GT-H (which is mainly a fancied-up Mustang GT) will run you $399 per day. Inflation sucks, but for that you get a Mustang that’s had its suspension and exhaust system worked over in an effort to replicate the race car feel of the original GT350-H.
We say replicate, because the truth is that the original GT350-H was a race car in everything but name, differing from the standard Shelby GT350 only in its black-and-gold paint scheme and rear end ratio. The owner of the ’66 GT350-H in the video, Daniel Swana, talks about the first time he saw one of the rental Shelbys, and gushes on how he tried to keep it as authentic as possible, right on down to bias-ply reproduction Goodyear Blue Streak tires.
The real star is the 289 HiPo engine, however, with its solid lifters and 306-horsepower rating. As we mentioned earlier, Shelby did raise (numerically lower) the reared gear ratio down from a deep 4.11 to a more highway-friendly 3.50. Later on, Leno gets a chance to drive the GT350-H, one of the few cars he’s never driven himself before, and the milder gears don’t seem to impede his fun one bit.