Ford used to own Hertz, and they did a special deal in the 60's where Shelby tuned some Mustangs and created the Hertz Rent-a-Racer program. Well, they've done it again. This is old news, apparently, as the deal has been going on for over a year.
Anyway, there was a AMA supermoto race in Stafford Springs, CT, and we needed to rent a car to get there. After a quick look through the various rental car sites, it seemed that a $69/day Ford Fusion was going to be the day's chariot. There's nothing wrong with a Fusion, but renting it would ensure highlight of the day was the time spent spectating at the racetrack.
Then something halfway down the Hertz list caught my eye. A black and gold Shelby Mustang convertible.
Sadly, the Mustang was all sold out in Manhattan for Sunday. I called Hertz in New Jersey, and they only had V6 Mustangs. I booked an inexpensive Fusion from Avis and went to bed, after reading a series of glowing reviews of the Hertz, both from magazines and from lucky bloggers who found one to rent--there are only 500 of them, and they are only available in a handful of locations, mainly on the coast.
The next day, I looked again, and BAM, there it was, fairly jumping off the page at me. Some fool had cancelled his reservation for my Mustang--even if I weren't obsessed with the idea, I'd defy anyone from resisting the opportunity to rent the top car- I mean, come on, it only costs $70 more! (actually, mine was a bit more than that, plus .26/mile over 100 miles).
It was difficult to concentrate Saturday night, and I a bit aloof at the party I attended--the whole time I was looking forward to squeezing the throttle and hearing the hollow warble of the big V8 with the wind in my hair. Thankfully, I turned 25 last month, so someone thinks I'm responsible enough to bring the beast back in one piece.
This was all still unknown to Sarah Wilson, who wouldn't share my enthusiasm about "what an awesome day this is going to be" as we ate bagels. Little did she know I had a fire-breathing Mustang lined up just minutes into the future. On second thought, that probably wouldn't get her as riled up as it would me.
We walked into the Hertz, just 2 blocks from Sarah Wilson's apartment, and to my great surprise there were Hertz Mustangs in every corner of the garage. I fired ours up and coaxed the beast onto the street, picked up Sarah Wilson, and roared onto the FDR.
Even before we got there, however, a Jeep wanted to race. Once on the FDR, a tinted Explorer window rolled down, and an approving face looked out. This was the first sign that the Hertz Mustang is dear to the American heart. But man, would it continue throughout the day. People LOVED it.
I had expected it to make a great noise, spin the tires, and put a big smile on my face. And did it ever, on all three counts. I'd drive through tunnels at full throttle, the nose would lift and the tail would squat down.
There was the 10 year-old kid smiling as I did a huge smoky burnout right in front of his house, who gleefully exclaimed "it's coming back" as I looped around to pick up Sarah Wilson before we fled the scene.
There was the guy at Starbucks, who demanded I pop the hood so he could check out the motor, and it looked pretty clear that he was going to head to Hertz and try one out for himself.
And the lady whose just-past-infancy pointed and said "momma, what's that?" "that's a Shelby darlin'.
When I arrived at the motorcycle race, I had a few long conversations about the car that ended with the guys saying "well God bless you man, have fun in that thing."
On the way out, some kids yelled "light 'em up Mustang!" and I obliged, and soon did it again when I heard "do it again!" from someone else.
I stopped to pee on the high way at night, and just for fun brake-torqued it and slithered off in a cloud of smoke. I passed a car a minute or two later who gave me a big thumbs up.
But the best bit was when we were on the way back into Manhattan, we took a wrong turn in Harlem and wound up pulling up to a stoplight next to another Mustang convertible with 3 fairly aggressive looking characters in it. "Oooh, a Shelby, go easy on me!" At the next light the driver said "how many cylinders does that thing have? 68?" and the passenger offered me some hennessy.
There hasn't been a day since when I haven't thought about excuses to rent one again.