For the past 20 years, Steve Beck has dreamed two dreams. One was to own a '66 Shelby GT350. The other was to completely restore his dream Shelby to showroom condition. With this car, he has realized both. Only he never thought his dream car would be a rare blue and gold version of the Hertz GT350H.
Because the black and gold color combination has become synonymous with the Hertz Shelby, including the new GT-H, many don't realize that 20 percent of the '66 GT350Hs were painted other colors. According to Steve's research from the Shelby American Automobile Club, Hertz originally requested 1,000 cars-200 in black and gold with the remaining 800 painted in regular Shelby colors. That was revised at the end of January 1966 when Hertz reversed the request, asking instead for 800 black and gold cars with the remaining 200 divided into groups of 50 in blue, green, red, and white. Interestingly, the blue Hertz Shelbys were painted Sapphire Blue, a Thunderbird color, not Shelby's usual Guardsman Blue.
Steve's GT350H was originally shipped to Larson Ford in New York for delivery to the Hertz location of a New York airport. SAAC records show that the car was involved in several minor incidents-likely street racing, Steve says-and was repaired by Hertz.
After its tour of rental duty, the Shelby was sold, and its original automatic transmission was replaced by a four-speed for autocross competition. At one time, it even competed at the Bonneville Salt Flats. According to SAAC records, in the '80s the car was owned by Hal Keck, a well-known Cobra racer who drove for Carroll Shelby in 1965-1966, winning the 24 Hours of Daytona with codriver Jo Schlesser in a Cobra Daytona Coupe in 1965.
Steve obtained the Shelby in 2001. In spite of the low 11,000 miles on the odometer, the car was very rusty-no doubt thanks to its time on the salt flats and the ravages of outside storage for six years. But it was original and complete. Steve had obtained the first part of his dream and was about to embark on part two. We'll let him tell the story:
"I spent the next year searching for N.O.S. parts so I could replace the unrestorable ones. During that time, I disassembled the car, tagging and bagging everything. The next two summers were spent bead-blasting and refinishing every part that could be saved so I could keep the car as original as possible. I spent hours on individual parts such as the aluminum quarter-window frames and the Shelby ID tag. I spent three hours restoring the GT350 rear-panel emblem.
"The restoration took about four years in my spare time. The bodywork and sheetmetal replacement, including the floors, was done at New Windsor Automotive, a shop specializing in Mustang restorations. The engine was rebuilt with the assistance of Karl 'Jake' Jacobson at Jake's Auto Clinic in New Market, Maryland, where we cleaned and rebuilt the block using original parts except the cam and valvetrain. I did the detailing on the interior, engine compartment, engine, and transmission. I located the correct automatic to replace the four-speed.
"By 2004, the body was ready for paint, and a friend recommended Mickey Schultz. He spent two months doing whatever was necessary for a first-class paint job. Everything was done in PPG DP74 epoxy primer and Deltron paint, which is not exactly inexpensive, but it's probably the best stuff out there. Coincidentally, the DP74 is very close to the original red oxide primer."
Steve completed the restoration in March 2006, exactly 40 years after the car was originally delivered to Hertz. He purchased a truck and trailer for transporting the Shelby to shows, including the All-Ford Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where we discovered the car.
"The completion of this car caps a 20-year dream to own a '66 Shelby and also to have one restored to this level. It sits uncovered in my garage because I enjoy looking at it as a constant reminder that it's really there and not just a dream."