Dodge Shelby CSX-T Thrifty Rental Car “Rent A Rocket”


Over 50 years ago, in September of 1965, the General Manager of Shelby American, Peyton Cramer, and the Hertz Corporation came to a brilliant business agreement: They would offer the 1966 GT350-H as a rental car through the now-famous Hertz “Rent-a-Racer” Program.Oct 26, 2018.  In the late 80’s Shelby America did it again with Thrifty rental car company with another partnership and a 1988 Dodge Shadow Shelby CSX-T. The CSX was a three year run from 87,88,89 with the ’88 Thrifty versions getting the ‘T” for Thrifty. All of the Shelby CSX cars were 4 cylinder turbo 5 speed cars. The CSX-Ts had a turbo but no intercooler like its siblings. Production stats are 1987-750, 1988- 1,000, 1989- 500. The cars come with a numbered dash plaque. My cars are #445 & #732. 

A full write up on these cars is here at

Here is a PDF file of the advertisement for the Rent-A-Rocket from Thriftycsx-t broshure

I was fortunate enough to locate two rust free Shelby CSX-Ts that were project cars. Neither ran and were located in Oregon, and Washington state. Shipping back to Minnesota for both cars on the same transport trying to save on shipping costs, did not work out. Each car was owned by a different person and they were far enough a part that the shipping brokers could not get a driver to grab both. So it goes. 

Car #445 had a rebuilt engine, but the small original Mitsubishi turbo and non intercooler. Moreover, it had a bad trans with no reverse. With some planning and a Saturday in the garage with my turbo pals, the car got a different transmission, a new Garret turbo, and a Mopar intercooler/Radiator combo from a 1990 VNT Daytona. The ability of using ma Mopar parts, that bolt right in is again a blast for me. I have stated my fascination with this in my other blogs. The interchangeability of parts from completely different models is just prudent car building. Usually more horsepower equates to more $$$. Turbo technology gets you a lot of bang for the buck, aka, “boost for the buck!”

With #445 on the road I was able to get some miles with smiles for a few years with a plan of someday dealing with the defective typical Chrysler peeling paint. In September of 2022 the car was repainted and a new decal kit applied. 

#732 was a major project when I acquired it with a loosely assembled motor with machine work and new parts. Turns out the pistons and the head are both china crap and unable to be used. Motor needs to come apart, start from scratch and do another correct build. September of 2022 this car is at the body shop for a complete respray.