As far as epic road trips go, I will admit that a relatively short 125 mile drive from San Francisco down to Monterey (and a bit beyond) is not something most people would spend their whole lives waiting for. But when you’ve been given the opportunity to hoon around in a really fun car for the day like I had with this 2016 Shelby Mustang GT-H, you don’t worry too much about the destination. It’s all about the drive.
Those of you wondering what the heck a Hertz Shelby Mustang GT-H is might want to check out my review of this car before continuing on with this article. That should give you a pretty good understanding of what this thing is all about and why I decided to fly from my home in San Diego up to San Francisco for the day for the sole purpose of driving. It’s that cool!
I also put together a short video summary of my drive, which may be more interesting to you than reading and looking at static pics:
Looks fun, right? It really was. Here then are a ton of pictures (and words) of my day with this incredible car:
Flying to San Francisco to drive a Mustang
Travel is my biggest passion in life, so it’s not really all that difficult for me to get up well before the crack of dawn to go sit in an airport. I love to go places, whether it be by land or air, and I was definitely looking forward to the flight up to San Francisco that morning and getting my travel on. Cars and airplanes – that’s like the perfect day for me!
By the way, those of you who are interested in flying around the country to drive cool cars like I do should check out cheapair.com. You’ll save a ton of money on flights using them, which comes in real handy when you splurge on ridiculously cool rental cars such as the GT-H.
Thankfully it’s just a short flight from San Diego to San Francisco, so I didn’t have to spend the majority of my day in the air when the main goal was to spend it behind the wheel instead. We landed at SFO right on schedule, and from there it was a matter of finding a quick breakfast before heading over to the Hertz desk to claim my steed.
Signing my life away on a Shelby GT-H Mustang
As I eluded to in my detailed review of this car, the rental procedure for one of these things is not very simple. They were insistent that I use one of their automated kiosks to handle my rental this morning, and I was a bit reluctant to use it since I was renting something a bit out of the ordinary – but I followed their orders and trudged my way over to the next available kiosk to obtain my rental agreement.
Long story short, and as totally expected, it didn’t work. The live person on the video screen who was handling my reservation couldn’t finish it for some reason (she never told me why) and suggested that I go stand in the regular line instead. Alrighty then.
From there I was told that I needed two forms of ID and four credit cards before they could issue the agreement. Luckily I had that on me, because otherwise, that would have ruined my chances of getting the keys to this car today.
Once all the paperwork had been signed, it was time to get a visual inspection of the car with the station manager. Oddly enough, just as we started walking out to the garage together, I noticed that the group of people who were trying to rent a Tesla via the Kiosk next to me were told to go stand in the regular line just as I was told. They weren’t as ok with it as I was though, and they sounded understandably frustrated with those worthless kiosks.
Driving south out of San Francisco
I’ve been to San Francisco many times, but the only time I’ve actually been south of the city (past the airport) was on a road trip from San Diego I did back in January 2005 in my then-new 2004 Nissan 350Z. Apparently I don’t remember a whole lot from that drive, because I totally forgot how uninteresting of a drive it is between San Francisco and San Jose on the 101. I guess I was expecting a bit more scenery once I got out of the city, but the first two hours of the drive weren’t anything more interesting than driving through the suburbia of any other large city in the US. The only difference, of course, was that every house I passed (even in the worst condition) was valued in the millions. The real estate market is beyond insane in these parts.
I followed the 101 past San Jose and got off the highway for the first time in Morgan Hill to get some pics (and video) of the car along some quiet back roads. From there I got back on the 101 and took it to Highway 156, which eventually turned into Highway 1 just north of Monterey.
Unfortunately, while the day was just beginning, the act of getting up at 3 AM had caught up to me and I was feeling exhausted driving through Monterey. Seeing an interesting place through the filter of a mushy brain isn’t advisable – you’re gonna miss a lot and you’ll find yourself zoning out and not even remembering what you saw as soon as you drove through it. That was totally me, as I don’t remember much about that part of the drive except for a little bit of traffic and wishing I was back home in bed. They say Monterey is nice, maybe one day Ill have to go back and actually see it.
Things began to get a little bit familiar to me as I drove south, and once Highway 1 started tracing the edges of the ocean I felt like I was back in familiar territory. I’ve been here before and I remember it vividly. Thankfully not much has changed since the last time, and it was still as beautiful as I remember. This is some of the most beautiful country on earth, and if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend a trip.
Unfortunately, the heavy rains of the winter season had caused mud slides to spillover the road just south of Carmel. The road was closed at that point, which in hindsight was actually kind of a good thing due to how tired I was due to the activity of the day so far. It’s really good thing I wasn’t able to go further than I did because I would’ve been completely dead by time I got back to SFO.
It had turned into a beautiful and sunny day south of San Francisco, and standing there next to the GT-H along the ocean’s edge was one of the best moments I’ve had in a long while. The only thing that ruined the experience for me was the fact that I knew that I had a long drive ahead of me back to San Francisco that afternoon, and there was an unfortunate urgency in my mind to get back in the car and hit the road. Oh well – at least it was a fun car to hit the road with.
The drive back to San Francisco was not as fun as the drive down to Monterey. My sense of adventure was gone by that point, and I was so tired that all I really wanted to do was get to the hotel and crash (no pun intended). Traffic was kind of thick on the way back, even more so than I was expecting for a Saturday, which made the drive that much more miserable. Okay, well, miserable is a bit of a harsh way to describe it because hey – how miserable can one be driving Shelby GT-H Mustang?
Returning the car back to Hertz at San Francisco International Airport was pretty much opposite of how it went down when I picked up the car that morning. Talk about anti-climatic – the woman checking me in didn’t even acknowledge the car or have a second look at it to make sure I didn’t melt all the tread off the rear tires. I was very good to the car that day, and I had nothing to hide, but I thought for sure they would give me hell as they went over the car with a fine tooth comb. At least that’s how they did it in Honolulu back in 2007 when I rented my first GT-H.
So there you have it. That was my day with what I consider to be pretty much the perfect car, and as I said before, I will be adding one of these things to my collection someday if I ever win the lotto and find myself with a gargantuan warehouse put stuff in. It will be mine. Oh yes. It will be mine.