When Carroll Shelby shoehorned the first 4.2-liter (260 ci) V-8 under the hood of the A.C. Ace, enthusiasts took notice. When the Cobra began to win races left and right, the world went wild. Shelby’s tried-and-true small car, big engine formula was a winner, and inspired hot rodders around the world to create fiberglass-bodied, V-8 copycats of their own design. If you’ve got the cash and the garage space, a particularly rare Cobra competitor is going up for sale at Barrett-Jackson’s upcoming Scottsdale auction.
The voluptuous Cheetah was created by Bill Thomas, a contractor for General Motors and Corvette tuner local to California. Thomas worked closely with the automaker to create a car that would go head-to-head with the best from the Ford/Shelby partnership. Underneath the shapely fiberglass body beats a fabulously desirable 7.0-liter (427 ci) L88 Corvette motor, the hottest engine you could spec on a C2 Corvette. It’s officially rated at 430 hp, but actual power figures peg an output closer to 560 hp.
This Cheetah has competition history, as well. The car spent five years on the SCCA circuit, winning the Southern Pacific championship at the hands of four different drivers. It also holds the distinct status as the first Bill Thomas Cheetah to make an official appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, doing so earlier this year.
This is a rare opportunity to own a real, original Bill Thomas Cheetah, so we’re expecting it won’t go home for cheap. Look for the car to cross the auction block next year at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale.