1965 Cheetah owned by Don Wolf
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
Not long after legendary race driver Carroll Shelby stuffed powerful Ford V-8s into small British roadsters to launch the early ‘60s Cobras, Chevrolet tapped performance tuner Bill Thomas to invent the Cobra-killing Cheetah. With fluid lines, ultra-light weight and Corvette muscle, they were lightning-fast on the track. But after racing rules changed and a fire crippled the factory, Chevy wasted no time in pulling the plug. Enthusiasts estimate that somewhere under two dozen original or partial cars were produced, although re-creations are still being made today. “The cars were road-raced, drag-raced and on the street,” says Wolf, whose ride is a 1965 re-creation. “With the engine set so far back, there was no drive shaft, just one universal joint shared by the transmission and the Corvette independent rear end. The cars weighed in at less than 1,700 pounds and with the Corvette ‘fuelie’ (fuel-injected) motor, they were clocked at close to 215 (miles per hour) at Daytona.”
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
He bought it from a Westhampton, New York owner who had two of them.
“The car was in very good condition when I purchased it,” Wolf says. “The fiberglass body and paint were excellent.” The Cheetah had been a rolling model whose engine, transmission, wiring and paint were added by the original Long Island owner. Wolf made a number of modifications to enhance both performance and driver comfort. “My car replicates a street car,” he notes. “The engine is a small-block Chevy that produces 400 horsepower and over 450 pound/feet of torque. With a five-speed transmission and 2,200 pounds, it performs quite well.”
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“The car is very small and warm inside,” he advises. “The (exhaust) headers are right over the foot box. You can't bring ice cream home in this car. It is not a grocery-getter.”
Wolf estimates the Cheetah is worth over $45,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“My twelve-year-old grandson Ryan has become an avid automobile enthusiast and loves modern supercars,” Wolf says. “Who doesn’t? Every chance we get, he is my co-pilot and he has a smile from ear to ear. He goes with me to all the car shows and events. When I have work to do on the Cheetah, I wait until he can be with me to learn more about cars.”