2022 Hertz Ford Shelby Mustang GT500-H First Drive: A 900+HP Rental!
Yes, you heard right. Hertz is going to rent a 900-plus-horsepower Mustang GT500 to just about anyone who can swing the rental fee. We took the first 2022 Hertz Ford Shelby Mustang GT500-H for a quick drive to find out whether that’s really a good idea.
Why Does It Exist?
There’s at least precedent for this. Hertz and Shelby first teamed up in 1966 with the GT350-H, which was tuned up to 306 hp instead of 271 hp, a 12 percent increase. When you think about it that way, the 16 percent increase in power between a stock 2022 GT500 and a Hertz Shelby GT500-H seems fairly reasonable … until you remember we’re talking about more than 900 horsepower.
If we’re honest, the GT500 didn’t need more power, but that’s kinda Shelby’s thing. A massive 3.8-liter twin-screw Whipple supercharger with a commensurately upsized intercooler and heat exchanger bring the beef, though even Shelby doesn’t know exactly how much power the car makes as of this writing. They’re still working with Whipple to finalize the tune before the cars hit select rental lots this summer. That’s also why there’s no torque number, but we imagine it’ll increase from the stock 625 lb-ft.
Contributing to the tune is a cat-back exhaust system developed by Shelby and Borla, and hardened axle halfshafts prevent the extra power from breaking things. Shelby says it consulted with transmission manufacturer Tremec to make sure the dual-clutch gearbox could take the extra abuse.
You may be wondering what Shelby did to corral all the extra ponies, and the answer is: not much. The GT500-H gets a carbon-fiber hood with extra vents to compensate for the extra heat generated. Shelby says it consulted with Ford engineers on where to add vents, though the car hasn’t been wind-tunnel-tested, just track-tested. The car also gets 20-inch forged aluminum wheels wrapped in standard GT500 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. Why not the optional Cup 2 tires with more grip? Because they’re no good in the rain, and they wear out too fast, Shelby says. Considering several of the locations planned for the GT500-H are in Florida, the rain concern is legit.
As is the concern about tire life. Shelby has made no attempt to lock out the traction and stability control defeat switch, so if you want to roast ’em, you can. Why on earth would they let just anybody turn off the computer in a 900-plus-horsepower, limited-edition car? Ask Shelby, and it’s because they tried it back in 2006 with the first revival of this partnership, and people immediately posted instructional videos on the internet showing how to bypass the physical lockout. Ask Hertz, and it’s because “if we thought about what-ifs all day, we’d never lean in and do anything cool,” according to executive vice president of global sales, marketing, and customer experience Laura Smith. Apparently, Cars and Coffee videos aren’t enough to sway Hertz.
It’s worth noting, though, the company has data to back up its position. This is far from the first high-powered sports car the company has rented over the years. Besides the Shelby Mustangs, there have been Corvettes, Porsches, and more. Rather than abuse them like a base Nissan Sentra, the company has found customers are generally quite gentle on the fast and expensive cars, likely not wanting to pay to fix them.
Similarly, the company isn’t concerned about people stealing performance parts off the car like they did back in ’66. For one, it’s a lot harder to do these days. Really, though, Hertz says it’s just too few bad eggs to worry about, and they won’t jeopardize the experience of renting a car like this for all the other customers over it.
Then again, Hertz isn’t going to rent these cars to just anyone. Only 25 will be made, and they’ll come with stipulations: no one-way rentals, absolutely no taking it to a racetrack or dragstrip, and there’s a 70-mile-per-day limit with a fee of $0.75 for every additional mile. Hertz is also looking at raising the minimum age from the standard 25 years old, and while the rental starts at $399 per day, it can go up. And as always, traffic tickets are your problem.
Pros: What We Like
The Ford Shelby GT500 is already a great car, and although it didn’t need more horsepower, adding that much more hasn’t hurt it. Without driving a GT500 and a GT500-H back to back, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference. The stock GT500 already accelerates so hard it’s almost scary, so the Shelby would have to be absolutely insane to really make its mark, and it’s not. Given the stock GT500 is already traction-limited, we don’t expect the Shelby to be any quicker to 60 mph, though its quarter-mile time might drop a bit once the tires hook.
Point is, anyone who’s never done a freeway pull in a GT500 before is going to have their mind blown regardless. Those who have will appreciate that their hair feels 16 percent more on fire now.
For everywhere else, we’re happy to report Ford’s traction and stability control programs work as well with more than 900 hp as they do with 760 hp. Try whipping it around on city streets, and the software will pull enough power to stop wheelspin and prevent oversteer, but no more than that. That means you can be as brutal with the throttle as you want, and the computer will do everything it can to turn that into acceleration.
Our short test-drive route didn’t involve any corners aside from freeway ramps, but as Shelby doesn’t touch the suspension on the GT500-H, it should handle as well as a stock GT500, which handles fantastically. Just roll into the throttle a little easier at corner exit, and you should be good to go. Shelby didn’t mess with the brakes, either, so when in doubt, stand on ’em. They’re excellent.
Cons: What We Don’t Like
Aside from the whole concept of renting anyone who can come up with 400 bucks a 900-hp, rear-wheel-drive car with the lesser (but still great) tire option and functional traction and stability control defeats, our main issue with the GT500-H was how many squeaks and rattles it had for a brand-new car. We were literally the third people outside Shelby to drive it, and there were less than a thousand miles on the clock. We love the black and gold livery, and the rest of the cosmetic mods are subtle enough, but the build quality left something to be desired.
The Bottom Line
If you’re lucky enough to rent one of these within the six-month window of availability from one of the few Hertz locations offering them, LEAVE THE TRACTION AND STABILITY CONTROL ON. Your wallet will thank us.
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