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This Uncommon 1964 Race Automobile Was Chevy’s Response to the Shelby Cobra. It May Be Yours for $2 Million.

This Uncommon 1964 Race Automobile Was Chevy’s Response to the Shelby Cobra. It May Be Yours for $2 Million.

The Bill Thomas Cheetah may have never given the Shelby Cobra the run for its money that its creator had hoped it would, but it remains cool six decades later.

A gorgeous 1964 prototype of the race car is currently up for sale through Hemmings, according to Car and Driver. Prepare to spend big to add the bright red speed machine to your collection, though. A car this rare doesn’t come cheap.

When Carroll Shelby’s version of the AC Cobra arrived on the scene in the early 1960s, it helped establish American race cars as a force to be reckoned with on the track. Chevrolet, perhaps sensing it had made a mistake when it passed on a chance to work with Shelby earlier in the decade, decided to help develop a Cobra competitor with race car driver and tuner Bill Thomas. The result was the Cheetah.

1964 Bill Thomas Cheetah Prototype


This example, which has the serial number 126364002, was the second prototype built by Thomas and his collaborator Don Edmunds. The curvaceous coupé wears an aluminum body that features an extended nose and a driver’s compartment positioned atop the rear wheels. The car was built upon a chrome-moly tube-frame chassis with a 90-inch wheelbase and an independent suspension system. The cabin has two seats, both of which are covered in silver vinyl today.

The Cheetah was powered by the 327-cubic inch V-8 from the 1963 Corvette. The mill, which can be viewed through a window in the car’s hood, produces 360 hp and 350 ft lbs of torque all of which is sent to the rear axle by a four-speed manual gearbox. That’s a lot of oomph for any car from the 1960s, let alone one that only tipped the scales at 1,750 pounds.

The hood of the 1964 Bill Thomas Cheetah prototype


Thomas’s car may have looked good in person and on paper, but it would never touch the success of the Cobra. Some bad luck and an engine prone to overheating meant it struggled to keep up with the competition. Chevy also pulled its support for the project in 1964 due to a change in homologation rules. By 1966, the Cheetah was dead with only 11 having been built, though it still has its partisans among enthusiasts to this day.

Vehicles this special tend to come with an eye-popping price tag, and the Cheetah prototype is no different. The listing states that the car can be yours today for the sky-high price of $2 million. There have yet to be any official offers for the car as of press time, according to the Hemmings website, so there’s a chance that price could eventually dip, but we wouldn’t hold our breath.

Click here to see more photos of the Bill Thomas Cheetah prototype.

Source: Robb Report

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