The rental of Shelby 06H173.

julianem

New Member
Sep 21, 2006
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The rental of Shelby 06H173.

It was chance really, just browsing around on the Internet looking at random entries for Mustangs when I read an article on StangNet about Hertz renting out Shelbys again in 2006:
“In a throwback to the famed Shelby GT350H "Rent-A-Racer" program from the 1960s, Ford Motor Company, Shelby Automobiles and The Hertz Corporation are partnering to produce a special run of performance-modified Ford Mustang GTs – designated Shelby GT-H, for "Hertz" – that will be available for rent later this spring exclusively through Hertz. Approximately 500 units will be available through the Hertz Fun Collection at select airport locations Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.”

Well there I was on holiday in our house in Florida just fifteen miles from Tampa International Airport. So, I contacted the Hertz website and booked myself a car for three days from their Fun Collection. They replied immediately. I yelped. The children rushed in. There with my name, address, and credit card details, under the section marked vehicle, it said: Shelby GTH - FUN. Ohmigod.

Renting Location: Tampa International Airport
5503 West Spruce Street
Tampa
Florida
United States
33607-1475
Location Type: Corporate
Pickup Date: Fri, Aug 25, 2006 at 10:00 AM

Return Location: Tampa International Airport
5503 West Spruce Street
Tampa
Florida
United States
33607-1475
Location Type: Corporate
Return Date: Sun, Aug 27, 2006 at 03:00 PM

Vehicle Type: Hertz Shelby GTH - FUN
Auto Trans Air Con

So on our last Friday after a horrific drive in the Chrysler Town & Country across the Howard Frankland Bridge in a torrential downpour with ten-foot forward visibility and rivers running off the road into Tampa Bay, I collected the Shelby from TPA. I was walked across to the underground car park by the Hertz lady who seemed to be watching me for signs of wild uncontrollable excitement. She finally said, “There’s your baby”. It looked fabulous in the underground car park glinting in shiny black and gold. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two others. I stood there with a big grin staring at the one called “my baby”. She checked me round the car to make sure all the parts were intact including the Hertz door scuff plates, insignia on the front flanks and the Monte Carlo bar under the hood. Then I was actually given the keys. I opened the very solid black door and settled in to the black leather bucket. On the center of the dash was Carroll Shelby’s signature and the serial number of this very car 06-H-173, one of 500 made by Shelby Automobiles of Las Vegas, Nevada. I turned the key. Dull thunder. I felt a sense of trepidation as I reversed out of the bay and off. It makes a constant rumble, then, when you accelerate, roars. Or rather, barks. This is an amazing car for a rental. When you blast past other vehicles, it kicks you in the back, like, well, like a mule really. Yet it has such poise and control. It goes exactly where you place it. Taut is the best word to describe it. Taut and stiff as the suspension is set up to keep each wheel hard down on the tarmac and much of that transfers through the seat and into your pants. I drove a mile to the International Mall and parked up waiting for Sue and the girls in the Chrysler. I needed to get my breath back.

We shopped for half an hour and had a steadying Starbucks. I was itching to get back in the Shelby and hammered back across the by-now dry Howard Frankland Bridge. People stare and pull alongside, it is quite an eye catcher with its air dams, spoilers and those wide gold stripes. The magic ingredient is of course the H on the side stripes, a clue to anyone with a sense of automotive history. A dab on the throttle and all challengers are consigned to the rear-view mirror.
Back at the house, it looks quite outrageous in the drive. Instantly putting $50 grand on the house value. Sue drove my baby to Publix and blow me down, we saw another one. “What do you think?” the guy said alongside us as we both rolled down Gulf Boulevard. Yes, he had the wild look of barely controlled excitement in his eyes. “Fantastic” I said. “What number?” I asked. “149. Just got to find out how to switch the traction control off,” he said. Of course. Hertz while giving us the thrill of a lifetime don’t want these cars totally trashed on return. There was no way the button marked TCS on the dash was going to work. Somewhere under the hood, probably in the electronics box at the front right, it had been disabled. Nevertheless, I thrashed it down the long, gently swooping empty road South to Fort De Soto. It certainly accelerates. 0-60 in five seconds. I followed a 911 Carrera back. We both proceeded at 45 miles an hour conscious that either one of us could jump the other at a moment’s notice. Sue went to Tyrone Square shopping again and bemoaned the lack of opportunity to open it up. I lazed by the pool and played back my mind movie.

Friday night and out to Biff. Now, a word about Biff Burger. It used to be a chain of Southern burger joints in the fifties. Then they all closed up except the one up 49th Street in St Petersburg. Every Friday night is show night. It’s like being in American Graffiti with the burgers, the cars, the rockers and the Rock ‘n’ Roll. Pre ‘74 cars park up in front or circle round the building with its open-air bar and dining tables and the thousand TV sets with every possible American sport being shown simultaneously. It’s like grasping the main nerve of Americana in here. I parked the Shelby next to a ’69 Corvette up front opposite the building. Occasional announcements complained of “late model” cars in the parking lot. I wasn’t moving, besides crowds kept gathering to look my baby over and peer inside at Carroll Shelby’s signature. Jen’s friend Nick arrived and backed his hopped-up 1980 Mustang into the front of the bar space. All night long the crowds gathered and stared. I explained it was a rental. They seemed bemused, as obviously it went contrary to their creed of building a classic from scratch. Perhaps they thought I was having a laugh. Limeys, huh? I roared off into the night and blasted past the front of Biff. That’ll show them.

Saturday, day two already: Tooling around in the Shelby doing some O&E shopping. Over the breathtaking Sunshine Skyway Bridge down to Ellenton with Sue. She drove down, me back. It’s very exhilarating to be driven in the Shelby. We passed some more rockers in a convoy of ‘50s monsters. Out to Treasure Island for a last drink with Nick. Parked on the beach. This car just looks cool wherever it is. And that noise. By now I am getting the hang of it and blast away from the lights at every opportunity just to hear the huge pipes booming. You can feel it under your feet. It is even possible to get the back end out if you power hard through a corner. But only for a moment before the traction control wakes up.

Sunday: Rain and more rain. Going home today. I wander into the garage and there it is again. Every time I see the Shelby, it makes me smile. No, it wasn’t a dream it is still there. Take some pictures of Jen at the wheel. “Can I drive it Dad?” “Err...” I take it for a cruise up and down the Gulf down to the wild dunes of Pass-A-Grille beach. This is the American Dream writ huge. I begin to wonder if I would be able to buy one. How much will they go for - $60K plus? There is talk of dealers getting them. I will find out. This is a gilt-edged investment. There are only 500. Only f–i-v-e hundred. There were 936 of the original GT350Hs and they are now worth over £100k each. I could sell my ’69 Mustang GT convertible - one of only 3,339 made, mind - and Sue’s Jag... Hmm… I am beginning to sound like Thomas Haden Church in “Sideways” justifying his latest infatuation.

Then off to Tampa in a torrential downpour. Ernesto threatens as a hurricane later in the week. At one point, I can’t see the hood at all, the I-275 is so wet. That would be good, totalling a Shelby in the rain. But then the sky clears in that unique Florida way and the road steams.

Arrived at Hertz Rental return and parked behind the two other Shelbys. So, they were all out this weekend. The lady checked it over to make sure I hadn’t removed the Monte Carlo bar and badges or installed a roll-cage and gone racing. There is a “Fast & Furious” scene here down on Gandy Bridge every Saturday night. She said they would be auctioned. “When?” “Get in contact with Hertz Corporate. Thank you for renting with Hertz Mr Moseley”. I just grinned and patted the car. I stood there with all three Shelbys. People dropping off their boring saloons scowled at me. Who did I think I was? Didn’t they know they could have been like me for just $99 a day? What a deal.

Back home in London and miles away in all senses I got an email from Jerry Ross at Hertz Corporate:

Julian, thank you for inquiring to Hertz. At this time, the Mustang GT-Hs
will be offered to the Ford dealers at closed auctions. If I can be of any
further assistance please don’t hesitate to email or contact me on our toll free number

Is there a chance Jerry? Is there?



- JM, London September 2006.
 
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