When Carroll Shelby unveiled the legendary Cobra racecar, in 1962, American road racing changed forever and the Corvette's domination went up in flames. Seeing this, Chevrolet was in need of a "Cobra Killer". Racecar builder Bill Thomas and designer Don Edmunds were commissioned for the task and this is how the Chevrolet Cheetah came to be, the car that in 1964 could reach a speed of well over 200 mph (320 km/h). Check out the video after the break for more details.
Thomas, who was also known as "Mr. Corvette", used a Corvette small-black V8 as the donor engine. He increased the displacement to over 6 liters and fitted it with Rochester Fuel Injection, which he himself had developed.
Maximum power is said to have been around 520 hp, which was phenomenal in those days. The innovation didn't stop there, as Mr. Thomas used an advanced spaceframe chassis, seen at that time on European racers, and managed to distribute the weight almost perfectly between the front and rear axles (48:52 front/rear).
Unfortunately, just as the Cheetah started to rise as a true "Cobra Killer", Thomas' shop burned to the ground. Shortly after, Chevrolet had a change of heart and decided to drastically reduce its racing program, so the Cheetah's career came to an abrupt end.
By Csaba Daradics