Volume III, Issue 5, Page 3

Any discussion of Chevy racing history would not be complete without a discussion of the infamous Cheetah. It was a private-sector Chevy secret weapon against the factory Cobras. It was shorter, smaller and the power-to-weight ratio was much better than the famous snake’s.

Bill Thomas, a name well known to Chevy fans, built the original Cheetah in 1964 with a 327/365 small-block, wide-ratio Muncie four-speed and wicked bad 3:36 gears. It had a 90 inch wheelbase befitting a Fuel Altered of the day and sported an unabashedly crude hand-made aluminum body (after all, it was “designed” as a race car, right?). Yep, it was a race car. Bill didn’t make too many of the hot cats and after a fire nearly totaled his shop, less than a dozen of these aluminum shirts were left. Even fewer originals still exist so buying one of them is the province of the big boys of car collecting.

That rarity made it a natural for the kit car market – again, just like its arch enemy, the Cobra. But when looking at building a Cheetah kit car, one has to decide if this project would best be reproduced as a kidney-disturbing race car or something with more manners for the street. That’s where Ruth Engineering & Racing, Inc. comes in. They make their 1963 Cheetah Replica kit car with a strong list of improvements designed for use on the street. But look at it: this Scarab-eating mite still has plenty of WOW factor and a strong racing flavor.

The tilt, one-piece front end makes service and viewing easier.