This is the first part of our Cheetah restoration story and the road to Goodwood’s 75th Members Meeting.
We are very pleased that both the Cheetah and the Shelby GT350 have been invited to Goodwood’s 75th Members Meeting. We’ve put so much work into building both these cars it is really exciting that they will debut at Goodwood. The Cheetah has been a real challenge. Taking the better part of 3 years to complete it will be the first Cheetah to ever race at the Goodwood Motor Circuit. The Shelby Mustang was a little more straight forward but equally emotive when you hear the 289ci V8 engine on full chat.
A lot of progress has been made over the past couple of weeks. The body work has been fitted, the roll cage has been fabricated and welded to the chassis and much of the aluminium paneling for the chassis has been made. The seat and pedal box are both in place now and we are currently working on the steering column.
When it comes to historic race car preparation and restoration the Bill Thomas Cheetah is one of the most exciting projects we’ve ever taken on. In 1963 Bill Thomas set out to build a sports car to take on the mighty Shelby Cobra. They designed a tubular chassis, two seater racing car and utilised much of the running gear from the brand new Corvette Stingray. This included the independent rear suspension and the 327ci V8 engine. Sadly a fire destroyed much of the Bill Thomas factory and Chevrolet pulled the funding. Approximately only 16 chassis’ and maybe 10 or 11 complete cars were made. A handful of these original Cheetahs went on the be raced across the USA with good success.
Earlier this year our client, Ian Burford, brought over a Bill Thomas Cheetah chassis from the USA. The chassis came with a handful of suspension components and the fibreglass bodywork. After assessing the chassis we decided to have it media blasted and, due to the quality of the joints, re-weld all of the tubes. We then had to source some original Corvette Stingray running gear in order to begin the dry build process. It is a bit like building a puzzle without the picture and without any of the pieces.