1963 Cheetah race car to be auctioned

One of the earliest known Cheetah race cars is to be sold without reserve in a one-lot auction by Guernsey’s auction house on May 10 in New York

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An original 1963 Cheetah, created to take on the Ford GT40 and Shelby Cobra, will be auctioned by Guernsey’s in New York City during a one-lot auction on May 10.

A General Motors collaboration with Bill Thomas, this Cheetah was owned by the same custodian since 1965, and the fourth of only 23 believed built. It is also the only known unrestored, completely original surviving example.

The Cheetah set a new record at Daytona in 1964 by breaching 215 miles per hour - a largely unheard of accomplishment with a vehicle of this type at the time. However, very few of the 23 specimens have survived into the new millennium.

Built in 1963, evidence suggests that this example was the second production example to be completed, after two prototypes and one test vehicle. This was also the car chosen to demonstrate the Cheetah’s potential when it raced that same year at Daytona.

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Clocked at full pelt travelling beyond 215mph, the Cheetah exceeded all records set by the Shelby Cobra thanks to a fuel-injected Chevrolet Corvette engine. Sadly, despite roaring success, a changing climate and new management at General Motors resulted in the project being abandoned.

A direct result of GM’s envy over Ford’s GT40 and Carroll Shelby’s Cobra, the project fell away into obscurity, leaving the Cheetah largely unknown.

The vehicle featured in a 1981 edition of Automobile Quarterly, though had rarely been seen in public since. Now, its current owner approaching his 80th birthday, the Cheetah is to be put under the hammer. Completely original, the vendor bought the Cheetah from General Motors in 1965 after very few miles on track.

'I have owned this car since 1965, when it was approximately one year old,' explained Sam Goins.

'Over my 53 years of ownership, I estimate that I have put approximately 100 hours on the car, and that 30 hours ago, the engine received new rings and bearings. The miles cannot be attested to, as the Cheetah was not supplied new with an odometer.'

'I acknowledge that although the car has not been driven competitively for many years, to the best of my knowledge it runs and drives as it should.'

The Cheetah will be displayed at Lime Rock race course in Connecticut on May 4-5, before being delivered to 93rd Street and Park Avenue in New York City. The vehicle will be on view from May 10 from 10am until the 6pm auction.

For a brief moment over half a century ago, this unique design demonstrated the ability to dominate the racing circuit. While cancelled during its prime, in new hands the classic racer could suddenly find a well-deserved return to the track.

For more information visit the listing's webpage.

See the Cheetah in action!

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