We've all seen the internet stars in action. Johnny "ESC OFF" Hotshoe and Timmy "Tank Slapper" Leadfoot dazzling bystanders with their wide-open-throttle antics while exiting car shows. Typically, horsepower trumps skill, resulting in wadded up sheetmetal followed by a thousand comments' worth of embarrassment. Coming this summer to a YouTube channel near you, Hertz and Shelby have teamed up to create the latest blooper-reel superstar, the 950-hp Ford Mustang Shelby GT500-H.
First, a quick history lesson: In 1966, Hertz teamed with Shelby America to form the Rent-a-Racer program. The cars were popular with the racing crowd—some even liberated their hopped-up V-8s and swapped in lesser units before returning the rentals. Amazingly, Hertz again teamed with Shelby in 2006 and 2016, but nothing quite as wicked as the Shelby GT500-H has ever been conceived.
The 760-hp Mustang Shelby GT500 is no slouch in its production form, but the GT500-H goes even further. To create the GT500-H, which is essentially a Shelby GT500KR, Shelby America replaces the 2.7-liter supercharger with a massive 3.8-liter unit sourced from Whipple that's fed through a throttle body large enough to be mistaken for a black hole. The larger-displacement blower is spun slower and said to be more efficient. And it leaves the door open for later horsepower gains. The intercooler and cooling circuit for the supercharger have also been revised. The fuel system has been upgraded to deliver an appropriate flow of go-go juice all while remaining emissions compliant. The modifications return a hair-raising 950 horsepower and 635 pound-feet of torque, improvements of 190 and 10, respectively.
Our brief drive outside Las Vegas did not have us questioning the stated horsepower gain. From a 60-mph roll, mash the gas and the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber squiggle from excitement. And oh, the noise! Air whooshes through the intake with an audible gasp, and the gold Whipple sitting atop the 5.2-liter V-8 whines like a Boeing 747 preparing for takeoff. Not that a GT500 isn't loud enough, but Shelby worked with Borla to crank up the audio track. The brilliant seven-speed dual-clutch automatic—revised by Tremec to deal with the additional power—snaps off shifts with a furious bark from the quad tailpipes. As a final indicator that Shelby America means business, it claims that the rear-axle half-shafts are upgraded to handle up to 1500 horsepower.
As part of a new three-year partnership, Shelby will build Hertz 25 of the GT500-H hotrods. Of that total, 19 will be painted Shadow Black and six will wear Oxford White, with all the cars featuring the iconic gold racing stripes. Other visuals cues that distinguish the GT500-H are forged wheels, a Gurney flap borrowed from the Mach 1, and a carbon-fiber hood co-developed with Ford that shaves 30 pounds while extracting more heat and reducing lift.
But unlike the Rent-a-Racers from the '60s, don't think of the GT500-H as your track-day training wheels. Despite the effort to recalibrate the dampers in their Track setting, Hertz is dead-set against customers entering the GT500-H in any type of performance event. When we asked how anyone would ever know, the response was, "It'll show up on the internet." Those who do end up on a track will get blacklisted from ever again renting from Hertz. The GT500-H will be offered in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, and Miami for $399 per day plus tax and insurance. The rental fee gets you 75 miles of driving enjoyment, with any miles beyond that running $0.75 a click. Our advice: Leave the stability control on and avoid being the next YouTube sensation.