Part of Mustang and Shelby lore is the Shelby GT350H from the 1960s. That’s H as in the Hertz car rental company. A special run of GT350s were made with automatic transmissions, most with a distinctive paint job that had two wide gold colored racing stripes over black paint. The idea made sense as Ford, Shelby and Hertz all reaped publicity benefits. The GT350H cars became known as “rent a racers” because people were known to rent the cars, install roll bars, take them racing for a weekend, remove the roll bar and return it to Hertz. Today, the original Hertz Shelbys are very collectible. That collectibility may have been a factor, along with the aforementioned publicity benefits, in the decision by Hertz and Shelby to reprise the idea with 2008 and 2009 Shelby GT-H models based on the current Mustang. As with the originals, the GT-H cars were all painted black with gold racing stripes. So it’s understandable that if someone mentioned a Shelby rental car, the natural response would be to assume it’s a black and gold Mustang. That response would be wrong in this case.
In the 1980s, just about all of the people that Carroll Shelby had worked with at Ford in the 1960s were no longer with the company. Lee Iaccoca, whose baby the original Mustang had been when he was at Ford, was by then running Chrysler. Iaccoca and his team were adept at spinning seemingly endless iterations and variations on the K cars that saved the company from bankruptcy. The right car for the right time perhaps but not very exciting. Enter Carroll Shelby. They started with specially equipped Chrysler built cars bearing the Shelby brand, but eventually, as with the Mustang, unfinished cars were shipped to Shelby American, where assembly was completed.
Though the GLH-S, Shelby Daytona and other Shelby Dodges are known to enthusiasts, what’s not well known is that the Dodge Shelbys also had their own rent-a-racers. One of the Shelby Dodges was the CSX, based on the compact Sundance version of the K platform. In 1988, 1,000 CSX-T models were made. H stands for Hertz and T stands for Thrifty. The cars supplied to Thrifty car rentals had all the normal CSX equipment, with the exception of featuring the Turbo I version of the 2.2L K engine instead of the higher performance intercooled Turbo II. They were all white with dark grey body cladding. Blue, which is Thrifty’s corporate color, is used for pinstriping. Like many CSX-Ts, this car, on display at the WPC Club Great Lakes Region all-Mopar show, has been retrofitted with the stronger motor. A cute touch is the XRENTAL vanity license plates inside a Thrifty car rental frame.