Most car fanatics are familiar with the legend of the mighty Ford Cobra: a quick little two-seater convertible with a big V8 engine built by Carroll Shelby and some of his closest hot-rodding buddies. They built this car for one purpose, and that was to kick Ferrari square in the junk — which they did — quite successfully. With all of the success Shelby and Ford were having in sports car racing the boys over at Chevrolet were feeling a bit left out. Their answer to this problem: The Chevrolet Cheetah.
Designed by Bill Thomas, the Cheetah ultimately didn’t have the market success the Cobra did, but the Cheetah’s performance was actually superior to Cobra at Daytona in 1964. With its fuel-injected Chevrolet Corvette engine, the Cheetah set a record breaking 215 mile-per-hour lap at Daytona. Not too shabby on 1964 tires!
So why haven’t most people heard of this car? Well, as much as Chevrolet wanted a Cobra beater, corporate shifts in management shelved the Cheetah racecar project, which resulted in only approximately 23 of these cars being produced from 1963 to 1966. One of the Cheetah’s was famously driven by Elvis Presley in the film Spinout.
Limited production numbers equals high demand for a rare car like this. And the Cheetah that broke the record at Daytona, the red and white number 64 seen here, theorized to be the fourth Cheetah ever built, is going up for auction May 10, 2018, at Guernsey’s in New York. Because it has had the same owner over it’s 65-year existence, it is not only the most-original unmolested car, it is also most-likely the finest example left in existence — proving that it has been loved for all those years!
The Cheetah will be on display on May 4-5 at Lime Rock in Connecticut before being shipped to New York City. Start rolling your change and check your credit card limit if you want to be the one who owns a piece of Chevrolet racing history. How much will this rare car fetch? I can’t guess the actual amount it will go for, but I’m sure it will be more than I can afford.
Enjoy the album of vintage and present photos below courtesy of Guernsey’s!