Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Winter 2020
						Craigslist Cheetah 3
Bill Thomas Cheetah Recreation

Bill Thomas Cheetah race car for sale on Craigslist

By Dean Larson

Finding a Cheetah on Craigslist is about like finding tabby cat in the pool. It doesn’t belong there, and you’d like to rescue it and bring it home. Obviously we’re not talking about an original Cheetah race car in this animal analogy, but it is indeed a Bill Thomas Cheetah recreation, and I certainly wouldn’t mind bringing it home to my own garage.

Since the original Cheetah production was ended in 1964, several companies have released their own Cheetah-derived sports cars. From 1965 to 1989 Fiberglass Trends built the GTR, which was based on a body originally submitted to Thomas while he was seeking out suitable body manufacturers for the Cheetah. Also, more recently, Shell Valley released its own Cheetah roadster kit

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BTM, LLC has been building Cheetahs since the early 1990s as per an agreement with Bill Thomas dating back to the early 2000s. In recent years, a few off Thomas’s heirs and children took legal action against BTM, stating that it had no right to build Cheetah’s after Thomas passed away in 2009. BTM falls back on a 15-year relationship and agreement with Thomas and has an equal number of Thomas's children and heirs in their corner. Last we checked, the legal battle had not reached any formal ends.

Trademarks aside, its plain to see BTM’s position in the Cheetah world. The company is steward to five of the 10 genuine Cheetahs known to exist in the U.S. today and has built a stunning line of Cheetah recreations.

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This particular Cheetah listed on Los Angeles Craigslist is a great looking example with some practical improvements on the original formula. Instead of the original 377 cubic inch SBC, you’ll find the modern equivalent, a GM LS1. Fortunately, this one has been properly backdated to play the part with two Holley four-barrel carbs and vintage Corvette valve covers. Note the heat wrap on the exhaust collector tubes. This helps alleviate the large amount of heat transferred into the cockpit where the exhaust collectors wrap around the foot boxes.

You’ll also find Corvette C4 brakes and suspension components front and rear on the BTM Cheetah, a common upgrade for GM-based replica cars. There’s also an interesting historical side note here. One common weakness of the Cheetah that was discovered on the race track was the rear suspension components and mounting. Having been designed as a radical concept car, not a racer, the Cheetah frame was particularly flexy in these areas. Many race teams modified existing parts, or fabricated their own suspension components, give a tiny shred of legitimacy to the C4 parts. 

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The BTM Cheetah is nearly new with just 1,100 miles on the clock and it shows. The seller notes that the car is tested, tuned, and ready for the road with a clean 1964 Cheetah title. You’ll have to part with something like $60,000 to make the Cheetah yours, surely not cheap, but the seller is likely correct. This car probably cost over $100,000 when new.

If you're looking to adopt this Cheetah, check it out here on Craigslist


**Edit: In 2014 the family of Bill Thomas won the legal battle with BTM, LLC, and established Bill Thomas Motors as the sole owners of Bill Thomas and Cheetah trademarks. The courts ruled that authorized Bill Thomas Cheetahs could not be built by BTM after the date of Bill Thomas's death in 2009 since he could no longer sign authorization paperwork. The last authorized Cheetah from BTM was built in July 2008. 

Bill Thomas Motors also maintains that the Cheetah was always intended to be a race car, not a design exercise as the popular narrative suggests.**

Craigslist Cheetah 1

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