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Shelby GT 350-H: the racing car from the rental car counter


For some cars you simply have to offer more: SPIEGEL shows vehicles with famous previous owners and rarities that are being auctioned. This time: probably the most brutal rental car in the world.

Under the hammer:

A Shelby GT350, built in 1966, in the "H" version of the car rental company Hertz, which has only been built a thousand times.

Why bid?

Don't buy a former rental car, they just got kicked!

This advice, which many used car buyers get unsolicited, makes sense, at least at first: after all, the drivers usually hardly know these cars - and they are not particularly interested in handling them carefully.

The car only has to survive the thirteen day package tour undamaged and be returned to the counter without scratching the paint.

So, with a clear conscience, you can let the clutch slip for a long time, chase the engine coldly into high speed ranges and shrug your shoulders with grinding gear changes.

The 400 kilometers of shuttle traffic between the airport, beach and hotel already hold up.

One should forget this advice with this car.

Because this car is not just any rental Mustang that vacationers in search of the California way of life have tormented through rush hour traffic from Los Angeles.

This black and gold copy is one of the most spectacular rental cars that have ever been on offer at a normal rental desk.

The Shelby GT350 H made 310 hp, while a Porsche 911 in 1966 only produced 130 hp as standard.

The fact that the keys to the sportiest version of the Ford Mustang, tuned by ex-racing driver Carroll Shelby, even went over US rental car counters, was thanks to a fixed marketing idea.

Until then - in addition to classic advertising - success on the racetrack should convince customers of the models, motto: "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday".

The Ford Mustang, launched in 1964, was a box-office hit, but lacked success in motorsport for a really sporty image.

In 1965, Ford turned to the company of the former Le Mans winner Carroll Shelby to turn the new model into a fully-fledged sports car.

Shelby was skeptical, even referred to the Mustang as a "secretary's vehicle", but in the end gave a hand.

With more power, better brakes and a reinforced chassis, the Mustang, now known as the GT350, also won the race tracks in North America.

For Shelby American, the company of the ex-racing driver from Texas, a new era began as a Mustang tuner.

And it began with a new advertising gimmick.

From now on, customers should not only win on Sundays, from now on it should be called "drive on Sunday, buy on Monday": test drive on Sundays, buy on Mondays.

In September 1965, Shelby and the car rental company Hertz agreed to offer the GT350 in a special edition through their new "Sports Car Club".

Around a thousand copies went to the car rental company and Club members who were older than 25 could rent the car for 17 US dollars per day and 17 cents per mile - based on today's purchasing power, that would be around 140 US dollars per day and 1 , $ 40 per mile.

The program, dubbed "Rent a Racer", offered advantages for both sides: Shelby got potential buyers into his cars without the company having to offer test drives, Hertz promised new customers who did not want to be satisfied with a standard rental car, namely "business travelers who want a change of pace in road traffic, sports car owners away from home and vacationers who want to drive a sports car ", as a brochure from the car rental company listed.

But this copy is also special among the thousand Hertz Shelbys.

It was one of the first 150 to be delivered - and is one of only 85 with a manual four-speed gearbox; all the remaining examples were fitted with automatic transmissions.

After all, not everyone can drive a manual transmission, argued the car rental company Hertz.

In early 1966, this car was delivered to a Hertz station in Washington DC - and revealed the problem that ultimately caused the entire program to fail.

Because the Shelby had only driven ten miles by April 11 of the same year, but fell through the safety inspection required in the capital.

The cylinder and jaws of the rear brake had to be replaced.

The few miles covered were obviously particularly intense - and were probably covered in acceleration races, in which the rear tires are usually warmed up with a burnout beforehand.

The engine overcomes the force of the rear brakes, while the front brakes keep the car in place.

Such stress tests, which are atypical for normal rental cars, were more the rule than the exception with a GT350 H.

After all, the car managed the quarter mile, the standard measure of US drag races, in a brisk 15.2 seconds at the time and was also able to impress on circuits.

This quality ultimately became the undoing of the rental Shelbys.

Because while they functioned as image carriers, the maintenance costs were extremely high.

So the GT350 H was finally taken out of the range and the vehicles were sold.

After the torture as a Hertz car, the engine of the vehicle that is now being auctioned has at least been replaced.

The auction house RM Sotheby's describes the car as "well maintained".


The GT350 H comes from the "Elkhart Collection" and was originally supposed to be auctioned in spring.

However, due to the corona crisis, the auction house rescheduled the auction to October 23 and 24.

It expects to cost around $ 250,000.

Icon: The mirror

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2020-10-22

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