The Cheetah, devised by Bill Thomas, was always regarded by the GM fraternity as a ‘Cobra killer’ especially in the USA. Thomas was a handy mechanic and tuner of repute who also successfully drag-raced a Corvette, thus coming to the attention of the factory.

Early view of new Wild Cat Cheetah

Lots of hot Corvettes and Corvairs came out of his workshop and in 1963, despite a ban on American manufacturers supporting motorsport he gained low-key, under-the-radar, factory support to develop his idea for his own Corvette-based car, which became known as the Cheetah.

The car was co-designed by Thomas and his fabricator, Don Edmunds, and in essence looked like a compact, cut-down Corvette, with a front-mounted GM V8 engine shoved so far back in the chassis that it sat almost next to the driver, while overhangs were almost non-existent.

From the beginning the car showed real pace and lots of potential, although over-heating of components and drivers was often an issue. By the time GM cut the supply of factory parts the Cheetah was looking like being successful.

No-one really knows exactly how many Cheetahs were produced (Bill Thomas passed away in 2009) but a best guesstimate is a maximum of 23 cars.

In recent years, in America, several companies have made kit packages, while Thomas even offered ‘continuation’ cars for a time.

There’s never been a UK Cheetah kit available, until now, courtesy of Hereford-based, John Smith and his Wild Cat Cheetah. John tells me that the body is very close to the original in looks and dimensions although the chassis although visually close, is designed around Jaguar components.

Interestingly, John is also devising a version that will pop straight onto a TVR Chimaera chassis as the two cars share a 90in wheelbase.

John hopes to launch the Wild Cat Cheetah at Stoneleigh show in May. We’ll keep you updated as the project progresses.

More information via 07866 610 078 ENDS.