As today’s seller Good price or no dice Cheetah’s replica correctly states that the racer was Chevy’s answer to the Ford-powered Cobras that dominated the track. Let’s see if the price of this complete kit car is the answer to today’s “what’s it worth?”
Driving someone else’s concocted car is a bit like wearing someone else’s recently discarded underwear. The sentiment is a bit unsettling if not potentially downright icky. the 1994 Ford Escort GT wagon we looked at yesterday was made up of a number of different models (GT, wagon, Mazda…) to create a car that never really was, and that got a number of you in the comments to reject the car out of hand. That didn’t stop the car from picking up a 60% win over the Nice Price, as $3,500 is apparently an asking price to be taken seriously on almost anything in this crazy car climate.
Yesterday’s Escort was apparently built because someone perceived a gap in the automotive ecosystem and chose to fill that gap. Today replica 1964 Cheetahon the other hand, was built because there aren’t enough original cars – Bill Thomas’ Cheetah – to go around.
Alright, first a little story about the real Cheetah. In the late 1950s, the US federal government began paying attention to death and injury in car crashes, both on highways and on racetracks. The government’s response to the spiraling carnage has been to demand that automakers reduce reliance on performance as a sales tool in their advertisements. Not in their cars, mind you, just in ads. This request along with an antitrust investigation, led by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, are widely credited as the catalysts that caused General Motors to end all of its official racing programs in January 1963.
Of course, not having an official racing program meant that GM had a lot of money to spend on independent racing efforts, and if those unofficial efforts resulted in cars that could beat Shelby’s all-conquering Ford-powered Cobras, so much the better. One such independent store was Bill Thomas’ eponymous Bill Thomas Race Cars. GM approached Thomas to build a Cobra killer after being impressed with his previous work developing production cars and dragsters.
For the Cheetah, GM supplied a 327 straight off the Corvette production line and a heavy-duty Muncie four-speed gearbox. Bill Thomas Race Cars, led by chief chassis builder Don Edmunds, designed a simple tube-frame chassis, which placed the engine in front of the driver, but well back from the front axle line in an attempt to optimize weight distribution. With the Muncie in place behind the small-block V8, that only left enough room for a driveshaft a few inches long.
Above this, a coupé or roadster style fiberglass body was fabricated. The first of these seems to have been the most common style, despite the oppressive heat created by the engine in the cabin, exacerbated by the closed cabin of the car. GM supported the Cheetah as an unofficial program until mid-1964, when a change in homologation rules for racing demanded an unachievable increase in production numbers.
After GM ended support and Bill Thomas Race Cars halted Cheetah production, the body molds were sold to another company who then produced a replica of the car as well as bodies for kit makers and automotive components. Amazingly, cars are still built today by a number of automotive component kit manufacturers.
There are only a dozen REAL DEAL Cheetahs in the world and because of this rarity and rich history, these cars fetch a lot of money. Thanks to this kit car market, there is plenty more to be had at considerably lower prices due to just being adjacent to them.
This would have been built in 2003 from a Seashell Valley kit and is clearly titled, surprisingly enough, as a 1964. Instead of the real Cheetah’s 327, this replica rocks a 350 SBC. Seems like a clean install, but carries one of the weirdest air filter assemblies I think I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure what to think of the trumpets on the top of the deflector housing, but since they go through the hood, maybe it’s just a fashion statement. Also, on another aesthetic note, is Batman reflected in the dashboard?
The 350 is backed by a six-speed Richmond Gear, a sturdy—and quite heavy—manual with an eight-ball shifter. Final drive is through a Ford nine-inch rear.
The ad is very eye-catching, using all caps for the ad copy and including a “No Bozos” image in the photos. These photos give a good indication of the overall condition of the car, something backed up by the description which says “THIS IS A NICE LITTLE CLASSIC HOT ROD IN EXCELLENT CONDITION NEEDS NOTHING!”
Well, I hate that I argue about this, but one thing he apparently needs is cash in the amount of $37,500 since the salesman makes no secret of his refusal to accept a check for the purchase of the car. I guess Dogecoin, the family cow, and a left kidney would therefore also be out of the question.
Now, before we all get to work figuring out if that was a deal or not, consider that the base Cheetah kit that this car is apparently based on will set you back $25,000 on its own. And it’s still in the box with no drivetrain components. If you’re looking for a Cheetah, or at the very least, the Cheetah experience so you can plateau and humiliate all those Cobra kit car neighbors, this turnkey car may be the deal to have.
What do you think, is this Cheetah an offer at this price of $37,500 (cash only)? Or is that too much caboodle for this kit?
Portland, Oregon, craigslistwhere to go here if the ad disappears.
H/T to warvette for the connection!
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