My Car Quest

September 18, 2021

The Cheetah – An Unrealized Potential

by Mike –

Bill Thomas created the Cheetah to compete with the Shelby Cobra in 1963 and produced 16 or 17 between 1963 and 1965. Thomas was able to get the help of Chevrolet in the beginning because they wanted to beat the Ford powered Shelby Cobras at racing.

Cheetah Race Car


The Cheetah used the Corvette 327 cid engine that was stroked to 377 cid and was able to produce a claimed 520 hp in a car that weighed only 1550 pounds!

While Thomas had some great success in racing Corvettes in the late 1950s and early 1960s he ran into some bad luck with the Cheetah that included politics at General Motors, a lack of funding, inability to meet the homologation production numbers, drum brakes instead of disk brakes and a fire that destroyed the factory and ended the Cheetah’s chances of beating the Cobras.

Cheetah Race Car

Cheetah Race Car

Cheetah Race Car

Cheetah Race Car

What else could have gone wrong?

Click on the images for a larger view.

Cheetah Race Car Logo

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