• Oct 7th 2009 at 7:58PM
  • 26
1965 Bill Thomas Cheetah Continuation - Click above for high-res image gallery

Ford versus Chevy. To many red-blooded Americans, the battle lines are as clear as good versus evil or Rocky versus Ivan Drago. We're not taking sides here, but we will remark that its a tad bit surprising that so many remember the Shelby Cobra with such fervor without noting a few of the more interesting competitors powered by engines from the Bowtie brand... like Zora Arkus-Duntov's classic Corvette Grand Sports and the Cheetah. Right, the Cheetah.

As much as we love the aforementioned Cobra – which is to say a whole heck of a lot – allow us to go on record as saying that the Don Edmunds-designed, Bill Thomas-marketed 1964 Cheetah is one of the most beautiful shapes in the history of American automotive racing. See for yourself in the high-res photo gallery below. Unfortunately, a fire at the factory assembling the Cheetah in 1965 ended the car's production after just 23 cars were built.

All was not lost. A company called Cheetah Continuation Turnkey Collectibles in Arizona is building a series of continuation cars authorized by Bill Thomas himself. Prices start at $88,500, which nets the buyer a space frame chassis with fully independent suspension, a 350 cubic-inch Chevy V8 with dual quads mated up to a Muncie M-20 four-speed transmission and a hand-laid fiberglass body built to the same specifications as the original car. Now... to pick a color.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sure looks like it would be cramped in there
      • 5 Years Ago
      There's a reason the [gorgeous] Cheetah isn't fondly remembered. Apart from the notable racing successes of the Cobra Daytona coupe, the Cobra family had a racing history that stretched into the 70s.

      The Cheetah on the other hand was a rough-riding, cramped, and demonically hot beast with a tendency to snap on the limit due to its short wheelbase and limp chassis. For a good couple decades after it stopped racing (with limited success) it was looked at as a flawed old racecar.

      Nostalgia is a wonderful thing though, and hopefully modern engineering has sorted some of the Ur Cheetah's nascent ills.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "The Cheetah on the other hand was a rough-riding, cramped, and demonically hot beast with a tendency to snap on the limit due to its short wheelbase and limp chassis."

        Could also say

        The Cobra on the other hand was a rough-riding, cramped, and demonically hot beast with a tendency to snap on the limit due to its short wheelbase and limp chassis.
      JDM Life
      • 5 Years Ago
      hmmm first time seeing or hearing about this car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I remember it more as a Cox slot car than competition for the Daytona Cobra. I do however "sort of" seeing it in the sports car magazines back in the day. For some reason, I thought it was powered by Cadillac?

      Also, anybody remember the TVR/Ford 260 Griffith?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Awesome machine. I had a Hot Wheel, a Johhny Lightning, and a Slot Car of this mid 60's madness and always wondered if it ever really existed.

      This car is the Bees-knees.

      Even if the proportions look cartoony, I want one.

      Way to go, Cheetah Continuation Turnkey Collectibles!
      • 5 Years Ago
      not doing it for me, but then again i am a teen...

      -the doors seem like an after thought
      -the proportions are all off
      -the rear looks like an AMC pacer was rounded out on the rear

      luckily it had the chevy small block

      but unfortunaly my opinion is ford/shelby won it with the daytona coupe, in the beauty, speed, and all important rememorable factor
        • 5 Years Ago
        charles i know where your coming from, and i know it was a racer at heart but at the same time so was the shelby daytona. and like i said im a teen, so for my era the proportions are all off, and the pacer is one of the only cars i could think of
        • 5 Years Ago
        "-the doors seem like an after thought"

        That's probably cause they were an afterthought; it was (is) a race car.

        "-the proportions are all off"

        All depends on personal perspective. For race machines of that era, the proportions are spot on.

        "-the rear looks like an AMC pacer was rounded out on the rear"

        Sorry man, but the last --and I do mean very last-- thing I think of when I look at that arse is "AMC Pacer".

        One other thing, unrelated to your post: Man, o' man, do I dig those fat BFGs! I know that low profile is better for handling, but there is just no beating that 60's/70's fat meat look. Makes me want to rush out and buy a C3 to restore.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looking back at it after 40-something years, the proportions come off a bit cartoony.

      I'm sure at the time people were more receptive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's one beautiful hormone-fueled car design.

      • 5 Years Ago
      So what's is it's racing heritage? It looks like a greasy 70's porn star but that is peripheral to winning races. Heck, I'd love to have one as a kitsch 60's hotrod regardless, but alluding that it ranks up with the AC Cobra in the annals of history is a bit of a stretch.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Bill Thomas didn't conceive the car as a racer. It was supposed to be a boulevard cruiser and show car. The 427 Cobra's success got folks at Chevy looking at the Cheetah as a possible competitor, but the Cheetah's competition record isn't great. The Bill Thomas Continuation Cheetahs have upgraded chassis and suspensions. Here is a more complete story on the Cobra and the continuation series: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-cobra-and-the-cheetah-a-muscle-car-tale-part-one/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/the-cobra-and-the-cheetah-a-muscle-car-tale-part-two/ Ronnie Schreiber http://www.carsindepth.com
      • 5 Years Ago
      We go every year to Road America's Vintage weekend and there is a guy there every year with a Cheetah that can drive the hell out of that thing and just dominates his division every year.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Also, anybody remember the TVR/Ford 260 Griffith?"

      Yup, a friend's older brother had one. Quick and light but very rough around edges. It made Austin Healey's and MG's seem refined, but when you buried the peddle or stuffed it into a corner :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Gotta disagree with you, Jeremy. This thing is a hideous, overwrought, poorly-proportioned disaster of a design.

      That is, of course, unless you need your car to look like a giant phallus. In which case, it's brilliant!
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