Cheetah

The Story

In 1964 Carroll Shelby was pretty much stomping everybody on the race track with his brutal Cobras. The Corvettes had not only fallen prey to the Ford powered roadsters, but even Zora Duntov’s Grand Sport program had been cancelled because of the racing ban that GM had. So in a desperate attempt to beat the Cobra’s, GM honcho Vince Piggins met with sports car racer and builder Bill Thomas, and told him Chevy would supply engines and parts if Thomas would build a car that could beat the Cobras. So Bill Thomas hooked up with his lead fabricator Don Edmonds, and they drew up a wild, mid-engine gull-wing door coupe and called it the Cheetah.

Since only a handful of Cheetahs were built, you would think it would have disappeared into the fog of the past. But the Cheetah was so unique, so wild, and so stinkin’ fast, that the legend has just continued to grow over the years… and I, like many other gearheads, have always wanted to build one. But instead of just building a replica of the 60’s race car, with all the inherent problems that the original Cheetah had, I have always wanted to do a modern, street legal version of this wild sports car. Fortunately, with the introduction of the Cheetah Evolution cars, it is now possible for ANYBODY to build one of these wild machines in their own garage. The GEARZ Cheetah Project is designed to show what’s involved in building one of these cars, and also showcase some of the cool things that can be done to it.

  • APR Performance
  • Charlotte Speed Shop
  • Cheetah Evolution
  • Henderson Driveline

Original Manufacturer Specifications

  • Designed, engineered & built from 1963 to 1966 by Chevrolet Performance Tuner Bill Thomas, developed as a competitor to Carrol Shelby’s Cobra
  • Production models used fiberglass bodies & chrome moly steel space frame
  • In 1964, race car rules changed and Chevy advised Thomas they would no longer support the Cheetah project
  • Best estimated indicate as many as 23 cars were built to varying degrees of completion & configuration