Shelby and Hertz are two iconic names that go together like a cappuccino and a pastry. While Hertz is riding on the whirring noises of electric vehicles from Tesla and Polestar to stave off bankruptcy, the rental car company has an extensive history with Shelby that dates back to 1966. Back then, you could rent a Shelby Mustang GT350 through Hertz’s Rent-A-Racer program for as little as $17 a day. Those days are clearly behind us, as $17 isn’t enough to pay for a few hours with a rental car now. But Hertz and Shelby are back with new Mustangs for people to rent — and one of them has over 900 horsepower.
Hertz has rolled out three new Mustangs for enthusiasts to rent. The first one is the Mustang Shelby GT500-H that’s based on the vicious Shelby GT500. While the standard Shelby GT500 is rated at 760 horsepower from Ford, the team at Shelby American has tuned the pony car to produce over 900 horsepower. Shelby isn’t interested in providing an official figure, but I mean, it’s over 900 horsepower, which should be enough for a few likes on Instagram. Then, there are the GT-Hs that are based on the Mustang GT. But if we’re being honest, you’re only interested in the big dog.
How did Shelby get the already-overpowered GT500 to make more power? We’re happy you asked. The main bump comes from a new Whipple 3.8-liter supercharger that’s attached to the 5.2-liter V8. Other extras that have been added to the GT500-H include a cat-back exhaust system, upgraded axle halfshafts, a high-volume intercooler, and a revamped fuel system.
If hearing about the Shelby GT500-H fills you with a sense of déjà vu, there’s a good reason for that. Boil the GT500-H down to its parts and you’re left with what’s essentially the Shelby GT500KR. There are a few differences between the GT500-H and GT500KR, with the latter being a harder, track-oriented machine. Still, the supercharged engines in both vehicles are nearly identical to one another. For the record, Shelby isn’t releasing an official horsepower figure for the GT500KR.
If you don’t hear the 900-horsepower GT500-H, you’ll certainly recognize its design. The GT500-H has the same deranged, performance-is-everything look as the Shelby GT500, but it features Hertz’s traditional colors. The majority of GT500-Hs are finished in Shadow Black with gold racing stripes, gold badges, and gold stripes along the rocker panels. Six GT500-Hs will be finished in Oxford White to celebrate Shelby American’s 60th anniversary. The gold treatment even carries under the hood where the supercharger has a gold finish.
The Shelby GT-H isn’t nearly as special as the GT500-H, but they’re still way better than the average rental car. These are based on the Mustang GT with the Performance Pack and come with the familiar 5.0-liter V8 that’s been massaged to make 480 horsepower. Shelby puts its own unique touches onto the GT-Hs that include a new hood, grille, a Borla cat-back exhaust system, 20-inch aluminum wheels, and Michelin all-season tires.
While everyone will want to rent the Shelby GT500-H, which is totally understandable, it won’t be available everywhere. Hertz will offer the GT500-H in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and four cities in Florida: Tampa, Miami, Orlando, and Fort Myers. If your travel itinerary isn’t in one of these areas, you’re left with the more readily available GT-H. These are available in San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas, and five cities in Florida that match the GT500-H in addition to Fort Lauderdale.
Earlier this summer, Shelby and Hertz invited us out to Las Vegas to test drive the new Mustangs. We didn’t get much seat time in the vehicles, but we did get to drive the GT500-H, GT-H Coupe, and GT-H Convertible. (Spoiler alert, the GT-H Convertible was our favorite.)
We get that Shelby makes high-powered cars, that’s the company’s shtick. But 900-horsepower in the hands of regular people? We’ve all seen what kind of trouble Mustang drivers can get into when leaving Cars & Coffee meetups with half of that kind of oomph. Plus, everyone knows that few vehicles get a beating like a rental, so the combination feels precarious.
On the road, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires struggle to keep 900 horsepower contained. They squeal and squiggle upon full throttle, even at highway speeds. The acceleration from a stop is savage, if a little scary, and unrelenting. The updated seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission rifles off shifts that are followed up by a snarl on downshifts. As your neck and head try to make sense of what’s happening, your eyes have just enough time to see the digits in the instrument cluster grow rapidly. Your ears are under constant assault, as the whine from the supercharger tries to drown out the bark from the exhaust in what can only be described as a war between a tiger and a lion. There aren’t many corners in Las Vegas, but we don’t doubt the GT500-H’s ability to run down supercars on a windy road just as well as it does in a straight line.
There’s no denying the appeal of the GT500-H to diehard Mustang fans or enthusiasts. How else can you find a 900-horsepower car to drive? This really is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for enthusiasts. This kind of power, though, requires a lot more control and smoothness than the majority of people expect. That whole big toe slowly squeezing the accelerator thing is truer than ever here.
Then, there’s the price. It costs $399 per day without insurance or tax. You only get 75 miles for that amount and every mile over is an extra $0.75. If you live in one of the cities where the GT500-H is available, we can’t recommend you drive one enough. Even if it’s just for bragging rights or for an answer to the awkward “tell me about yourself” question, nothing says ‘Murica as much as a 900-horsepower Mustang.
For consumers that want an enjoyable car for a holiday, we think the GT-H is a much better choice. Not only is it more affordable to rent, but it also doesn’t require a large thought process to drive, as 480 horsepower is far more manageable. You also get a Mustang with serious straight-line acceleration and a deeply American grumble. The GT-Hs will hit triple digits — not nearly as quickly as the GT500-H, but plenty quick enough. The convertible, with its open-top sense of occasion, seems fitting for a vacation. Just don’t forget the sunscreen and again, don’t act like a fool. We can’t stress that last bit enough. Keep traction control on and try not to make it to YouTube.
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