Carroll Shelby’s Personal GT350H Up For Sale at Auction
The original Mustang tuner stashed this rental-car special in his collection for years, and now it will head to a new home.
Few people can say they’ve owned a car with their names on it, but one of them —Shelby’s Shelby — heads to auction at Bonham’s Scottsdale on January 18.
Well, it’s one of Carroll Shelby’s own cars, at least. The late creator of high-performance Ford vehicles owned this 1966 Shelby GT350H for decades. Now, the Wimbledon White Mustang with Guardsman Blue Le Mans stripes moves to new owners at the Arizona auction.
Shelby bought the GT350H from its second private owner. It came with the 306-horsepower version of the iconic “K-Code” 289 with a 595 cfm Autolite four-barrel carburetor, a floor-shifted C4 automatic transmission, chrome Magnum wheels, and Shelby GT350 badges and graphics.
Of course, GT350 represented the first official Ford that Shelby tuned. That was after he made his mark crafting the AC Ace into the Ford V8-powered Shelby Cobra convertible. The hard-top Shelby Daytona race cars likely earned him the chance to build the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Ford GT40s, perhaps his peak achievement in a lifetime of triumphs.
However, the GT350 brought Shelby’s race-car performance to the masses and to the street. It remains an icon for good reason: Before General Motors had even responded with a basic Chevy Camaro, Shelby and Ford had weaponized the Mustang.
Hertz so Good
If you’re new to the classic Shelby game, the “H” in “GT350” stands for Hertz. The rental company commissioned a small batch of the Shelby for “qualified drivers” to replace the Corvettes in the company fleet. That small batch eventually turned into 936 of them built in 1966.
Anybody who’s ever rented a car can tell you what happened: The Shelbys suffered almighty abuse over their rental lives. Hertz had few illusions, even calling it a “Rent-a-Racer.” In addition to probably some of the greatest burnouts of all time, rental Shelbys made countless clandestine drag-strip visits.
At least one Hertz agency found the remnants of roll cage base plates underneath the carpet. It turns out that it was much cheaper — $17 a day and 17 cents per mile — to fly into a city holding a race, install a roll cage, go road-racing with the SCCA, and then cut out the cage before returning it than it was to tow your own race car there.
Want a more modern GT350? Watch Jay Leno drive a 2017 GT350R.
Those GT350Hs that survived rental-car torment went to private owners after a factory refresh. They have since become very collectible versions of the iconic first-generation Mustang. This auction car’s C4 automatic indicates it’s a later GT350H after Hertz switched from the Borg-Warner T-10 manual transmission. Most were painted black with gold stripes, but a smaller batch was made in white, red, blue, and green.