Cheetah, the Ill-fated Cobra Killer (Page 2)
Unfortunately, the Cheetah project had a bad omen right from the start, which is why over the course of history it fell into the Cobra's shadow. In order to participate in the same SCCA sanctioned events as its arch enemy, at least 100 units had to be built in order for the car to be homologated.
Since the first Cheetah prototype was ready towards the end of 1963, it was pretty obvious that Thomas wasn't going to complete the required production run before the start of the 1964 season. With just a little over twenty cars finished, when 1964 came the feline was forced to race not against the Cobra, but in a special class along more advanced and better funded project cars.
On top of that bad luck, GM pulled out of the deal from fearing the racing ban instated a decade before. This in turn meant that the project no longer had a supply line for the parts required in its production.
Another bump in the road was provided by a new SCCA rule, which stated that for the 1965 season of the championship it was originally designed to compete in, at least 1,000 vehicles were supposed to be built. Even with GM's backing, there was no way for Bill Thomas to build so many cars.
If that wasn't enough, the small factory where the Cheetah was being built burned down in the same year, so the project had to be scrapped altogether. The car's fate was doomed even before it had had the chance to truly show what it was capable of. In the following years, several Cheetah-inspired kit cars have been built by various companies, but not even close to the Cobra replicas that are still being manufactured all over the world.
Since 2006, however, an Arizona company called BTM has started production of a Cheetah Continuation Coupe and Roadster, which apparently have the seal of approval from Bill Thomas himself, who sadly passed away in 2009. The cars are built to the exact specifications of the original feline and each is sold with an original letter of authenticity that was signed by the car's creator before him passing away. The starting price for one of the maximum of 100 units to be built currently stands at almost 90,000 US Dollars.
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