Why in the world would someone choose to vacation in Phoenix in July? Perhaps to get his hands on a hot Mustang.
Marketers for Hertz are banking that there's a hearty group of my kind of people out there. Frankly, it's a pretty safe bet.
My type: High-octane blood with an undying love for a throaty engine roar, horsepower ratings north of 300 and the slight stink of hot brake pads. Oh, yeah, and also a loving wife and kids, a mortgage and a one-car garage (that I don't have dibs on).
My particular demographic goes about its daily chores in sedans or SUVs, maybe with a sporty trim package and a decent sound system.
Hertz aims to cater to our occasional need to cut loose.
The car-rental company has hooked up with Ford and Carroll Shelby for a modern reincarnation of the rental agency's "Rent-A-Racer" program from the mid-1960s.
Hertz is going to take about 500 new Ford Mustangs, all massaged by Shelby Automobiles Inc. Shelby is raiding the Ford Racing Performance Group parts bin for some intake, exhaust and suspension goodies that will give the Shelby GT-H Mustang a 25-hp bump over the standard-issue 300-hp Mustang GT.
Sadly, all 500 will be equipped with an automatic transmission.
Hertz then will put them at airport rental centers, primarily in the Southwest and Southeast, as part of its Fun Collection. Customers can reserve a Fun Collection vehicle by specific make and model, rather than just the generic rental sedan.
Detroit, conspicuously, is not on the Fun Collection list. Phoenix is. And Honolulu. Oddly enough, so is Las Vegas. Surprise, surprise.
Of course, fun doesn't come cheap. For example, renting a Nissan 350Z from the Hertz Fun Collection in Phoenix one month from now will set you back $190 a day. That's before the additional fees.
No word yet on how much the Shelby 'Stangs, in their black paint and gold stripe livery, will rent for. North of the Nissan is my guess.
Shelby GT-H renters will have to be at least 25 years old, there will be extra insurance requirements, and the renter and Hertz will do a thorough check of the car when it is picked up and dropped off.
Some of those post-rental walk-arounds should be interesting. I've known some people who treat rental cars the way Tom Cruise's character Cole Trickle did in "Days of Thunder."
That got me thinking about what will happen to these special 'Stangs when Hertz is finished with them.
A Hertz spokeswoman said the cars will stay in the rental fleet until they get between 16,000 and 18,000 miles on the odometer, or about a year's worth of service. Then some of the cars will be offered to Ford dealers, and others will be sent through auto auctions - meaning they'll show up on the used-car lot.
How risky would it be to buy a used rental car with an accelerator pedal that pulls your foot to the floor like a black hole?
The original Hertz "Rent-A-Racers" are prized by collectors. And you figure Hertz is going to keep up on the oil changes and other maintenance. It shouldn't be too hard to find 500 takers.
Time to start saving for that two-car garage.
You may e-mail Dale Jewett at [email protected]