Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hertz’s ‘Rent a Racer’ program, Jay Leno takes a close look at the 2016 Shelby Mustang GT350-H before taking a nostalgic drive down memory lane in the 1966 model that got the ball rolling.
Jay Leno’s guest this week is none other than Hertz, whose rent-a-car queues we’ve all joined online with a faint sense of dread, whose operators have left us on hold for 20 minutes while they punch the numbers, and whose Nissan Tiida’s and Honda City’s we’ve silently cursed throughout a two week loan period for lacking the steering, brakes, throttle, or indeed any sense of connection to the act of driving whatsoever (sorry, I got burnt with a Chevy Spark a few years ago, and the pain is still real).
Things were slightly different though back in 1966, particularly when Hertz and Carroll Shelby joined forces for the inaugural ‘Rent a Racer’ program, in which patrons could rent a Shelby Mustang GT350 for $17 a day (or 17 cents per mile). Five decades on, Hertz is offering the program again, this time with a 2016 Shelby GT350-H kitted out with a 435bhp 5-litre V8 from a Mustang GT. Those of you digging through the sofa cushions for loose change though should know that $17 a day has now gone up to $350 a day.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the restored ’66 Shelby GT350-H of owner Daniel Swana that has caught Jay’s interest in his latest video (the former Tonight Show host freely admits that the first generation Mustang is still his favourite of the line). Bearing the same black paint with gold racing stripes as its 21st century contemporary, the ’66 houses a 289cu in (4.7-litre) V8 that produces an impressive 306bhp and a sound that sub-consciously makes you yearn for a malt. It’s not surprising that Leno is champing at the bit by the 20m mark to take the classic Hertz-promoted Ford Shelby Mustang GT350-H for a spin to see just how much things have changed in the last 50 years. And how much muscle car you could get for $17 back in 1966.