Cheetah race car headed to winner’s circle at Guernsey’s May 10


The Cheetah race car as it appeared in a 1981 issue of ‘Automobile Quarterly.’ Guernsey’s image

NEW YORK – Chevrolet latched on to the advertising slogan “Heartbeat of America” in the 1980s, and nothing gets Chevy lovers’ hearts pumping faster than the sight of an original Cheetah race car. Guernsey’s will auction one of the few original Cheetahs to the highest bidder on Thursday, May 10. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Throughout the 1950s and early ’60s, international automobile racing was largely dominated by Ferrari. Then Ford teamed up with a little-known race shop owned by Texan Carroll Shelby to create the Cobra. Suddenly, an American-made car started taking center stage in the racing scene. General Motors—clearly envious of Ford’s wildly successful entry into racing—wanted to outdo its rival. And so, the Cheetah was born. Radical in appearance, only 23 (some believe fewer) of these potent machines were built. Very few Cheetahs survive today, led by the most historic and most original one, which Guernsey’s is about to sell.

In the car collecting world, originality is paramount. Today, the majority of vintage collector cars have, in whole or in part, been restored by their owners. As cars change hands from one collector to another, modifications and additional restorative work are often performed. What frequently results is a beautiful looking car made up of rebuilt, refinished or replaced parts. The Cheetah Guernsey’s will be selling at the unreserved auction is as original as there is and has had only a single owner since 1965.

Built in 1963 as one of the first Cheetahs ever made, this was the car (above) chosen to demonstrate the Cheetah’s potential when it raced that same year at Daytona. Clocked at a record-setting 215 miles-per-hour, it exceeded the Cobra and just about anything else on four wheels. Powered by a fuel-injected Chevrolet Corvette engine, the car was dynamite. However, business decisions within GM caused a shift in thinking and the race car project was abandoned.


The historic Cheetah today. Guernsey’s image.

In 1981, a 12-page article appeared about the development and history of the Cheetah in Automobile Quarterly. Adorning those pages were many pictures of only one Cheetah, the one that will soon be crossing the auction block. Approaching his 80th year, the Ohio owner who acquired this stunning car back when it was just about new, is now parting with it.

On May 4-5, the Cheetah will be displayed at Lime Rock, the race course in northwestern Connecticut. on May 5-6, it will be displayed at the Rhinebeck Car Show in Rhinebeck, N.Y. The car will then be delivered to 93rd Street and Park Avenue in New York City where it will be on view May 10 from 10 a.m. until the 6 p.m. auction.

For complete information, contact Guernsey’s directly by calling 212-794-2280.