review by: Gregg
The Cheetah was the inspiration for numerous small boys dreams
in the early Sixties (including my own). Built as a proposal
to General Motors as an alternative to Ford's very successful
Cobra project, the Cheetah employed many of the styling cues
that were common to the era. A long hood and short beck stretched
taught over the biggest motor that could be stuffed between
Like the Cobra, Jaguar's XKE and Chevrolet's own Gran(d) Sport
Sting Ray, the Cheetah was designed to do one thing very well...GO
FAST. Assembled from off-the-shelf Corvette parts and fabricated
frame and suspension components, the Chevrolet derived engine
was positioned behind the front wheels to create a front-mid
engine arrangement to make a stable high performance platform.
Because the chassis was not stiff enough, the Cheetah exhibited
quirky handling characteristics at high speeds. The Cheetah
was fast. Speeds of 185 mph were recorded at road courses, and
a claimed 200+ mph is claimed at the Daytona oval.
Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the Cheetah production facility
and claimed the unfinished cars and more importantly, the molds
and tooling to create more cars. The fire did not end the Cheetah
Numerous "kit" Cheetahs were attempted, with a few even being
sold. Most of the replica Cheetahs were of very questionable
quality, with poor fit-and-finish and highly suspect engineering.
There are a few weblogs that chronicle attempts by owners to
finish their kits with various levels of success.
"Cheetah Race Cars" has gotten permission from one of the original
creators of the Cheetah (Thomas) to create "continuation" cars
that are advertised as faithful to the original with updated
engineering and reliability, but without the problems of the
The Cheetah was intended to rival the mighty Cobras. In some
ways it did just that. It certainly looked the part. The performance
was there. It just suffered the fate of many great dreams...
It lacked just a little bit of good luck. If you happen to live
in Southern California, keep your eyes open. The few surviving
Cheetah's (out of 23 completed) that still exist are located
in that warm and sunny dream-land. A fitting place for the car
of my boyhood dreams.