1964 #002 Aluminum Chevrolet Powered Experimental Cheetah Ser #126364002
Cheetah #002 was purpose built on orders from GM President John/Jack F. Gordon with the strictest secrecy due to the fact it was a GM Racing project produced off site even with the strict GM Racing Ban in place at the time. Bill Thomas made the deal with then GM President John/jack F. Gordon to build this Aluminum GM Experimental test mule in return for any GM production & Experimental Corvette parts needed to build the first batch of Aluminum Experimental Cheetahs. Thomas worked directly with Ed Cole head of GM Car & Truck group along with Frank Winchell head of Research & Development Chevrolet Engineering Center, Bunky Knudsen General manager of Chevrolet. Walt MacKenzie, Vince Piggins, and Charley Simmons.
#002 was completed in December 1963 and shipped off to the Milford proving grounds in secrecy. This Cheetah as received by Chevrolet Engineering Center was given an internal ID number 68001. #68001 explained: the 6 designates 1966 model year the 8 designates Corvette platform & 001 designates the 1st Experimental Internal prototype. Knowing today that GM worked on new model design-engineering & testing 2 to 3 years ahead of release dates of new models this makes perfect sense. GM would end up gaining so much knowledge of Design & Engineering on the future Corvette Platform for pennies on the dollar from testing #68001 compared to an in-house project of its kind.
We now have pictures of #68001 Cheetah on a test fixture inside Chevrolet Engineering Center along with genuine CEC test reports of #68001. Testing dates up to April 64. The most incredible genuine notes found in GM archives states John/Jack F. Gordon The President of GM was the owner of #68001 Experimental test mule. April 1964 Bunky Knudsen contacted Thomas and explained they had to get rid of (Jacks) Cheetah immediately due to internal concerns. It was offered to Thomas for $10,000. Thomas did not have $10,000 to buy it back so he went to his friend Thomas Friedkin owner of PSA Airlines out of San Diego to fund the buyback of #68001 Cheetah. Thomas Friedkin delivered the funds. Within days the Cheetah was back in the Thomas shop. A few short weeks later Thomas would get the worst Cheetah news ever from GM that the Entire Cheetah Project was terminated on May 12th, 1964. The Racing Ban in place at GM was at its boiling point (again) the heat was to much for all higher up Management, so they had no choice but to pull the plug on all future Cheetah Racing projects.
Once back at Thomas shop in Anaheim California #002 would go to Riverside Raceway with Jerry Titus at the wheel, again getting damaged. Thomas Friedkin funded the repairs & preparing #002 as a wild looking SCCA Race Car and it went racing as a flared fender #58 White with Red & Blue stripes up the bonnet. Thomas called the Cheetahs with Red White or Blue bonnet stripes PSA Airlines Cheetahs. By the end of 1965 #002 was turned into a Drag Car its Sports GT Racing days were over. It even ran some ½ mile drags. Then it was sold to Bill Burke of Salt Flats Fame, He turned it into a Salt Flats racer. Installing a Blown & injected Olds engine that was a record holder at that Flats in previous years. Bill Burke would hire Thomas to build him a 67 427 Camaro for the Salt Flats that did set a record, This ended the excitement with the #002 Cheetah and Bill sold it to Don Thorne of Tulsa Oklahoma where Don raced it at the local drag strip for 2 seasons. Then it was sold to a collector just outside Tulsa Oklahoma in the fall of 1969 where it was placed in 2 different barns over a 48-year time frame. Insert Robert Auxier chasing the dream of owning it & restoring it since 1992. 25 years later December 30th, 2017 it was purchased and removed from its barn. Robert Auxier having 4 genuine Cheetah restorations under his belt was prime contender for the restoration of a lifetime. As the World Expert on anything Cheetah related the task was clear restore the Holy Grail Aluminum 1964 Cheetah into a masterpiece. Today it is just that an Exotic stunning all American GT Sports Car. It should be placed in the Automotive Historical Artifact class. The design the engineering the super lite weight the sheer speeds of 217 MPH in February 1964. No doubt this Cheetah is an Automotive engineering Marvel.
This Aluminum Experimental Cheetah has the best Provenance of all Cheetahs built.
A Few Historical foot notes in our Dossier:
Photograph early 1966 of Mel Chastain sitting in #002 showing ¾ view rear body and chassis with Blown & Injected Olds Slat Flats Record holder engine already mounted in.
1966 magazine article about the Thomas Aluminum 2-seater with Bill Burke & Mel Chastain going to the Salt Flats with incredible photographs. Original serial tag in photograph.
Paul Van Valkenburgh book 1972 CHEVROLET RACING: Story on the Cheetah includes information stated from Mr. Valkenburgh Cheetah number 2 was sold to Chevrolet Engineering.
Automobile Quarterly Vol 19, No. 3 Mr. Thomas quoted the 2nd Aluminum bodied Cheetah was shipped to Chevrolet Tech Center.
Stay tuned for more updates.
1964 Bill Thomas Genuine #003 Cheetah Certified and restored to Museum quality here at BTM LLC.
We lead by EXAMPLE. This car is the 1st production fiberglass body Cheetah ordered by Alan Green Chevrolet and sponsored by Bardahl. It was a very special ordered Cheetah in Full Race Trim as it was going to the 1964 Daytona SCCA/FIA GT races in Feb 1964.
Jerry Grant drove it in Qualifying runs and break in runs of the tires and brakes. Unfortunately he went off the track and hurt the front bonnet and the very front of the chassis. So it DNS the race. It went back to Thomas for a rebuild. Don Edmunds remembers Jerry hitting 215, 217 MPH there and Jerry came in to the pit area and Don told him how fast he was running. Well, he never went over 188MPH after having that talk with Don.
This Cheetah was 1st production Cheetah ordered back in August 63 by Alan Green. Since Bill had to talk GM into a prototype all aluminum, 58mm weber Experimental engine, and Experimental 2.92 Aluminum Grand Sport rear end, the car was finished just in time to test at Riverside; then it was shipped to Daytona.
This Cheetah also was built with special front aluminum air dams up front to guide air through the Giant NASCAR Radiator. It also came with L&R plus rear fuel tanks. Even the special Daytona rear tow tabs are still on the chassis.
Painted in a the time the famous Bardahl Yellow and Black writing with white circles and deep Red number 17. It is just striking to see in real life. It was the most exotic built production Cheetah to come out of Bill's shop. This is the fourth Genuine Bill Thomas Cheetah restored at BTM LLC. Yes it is clear to see here proof positive who my Hero was Bill Thomas Jr. Sad we lost him in Oct 2009 It shows in all the examples of his cars we are proud to work on today. Bill is smiling down on me for sure.
Call Mr. Auxier at (623) 606-3155 or Email email@example.com
Ordered new by Jack Goodman owner of Clarence Dixon Cadillac Hollywood California.
It was ordered new with 327 375HP Corvette engine Muncie 4 speed 3.55 gears triple fuel tanks. It started racing in July 1964, By May 1965 Bill Thomas shop added dual radiators 396/427 iron head L88 M-22 rock crusher Front disc brakes wide body rear fenders 10" rear Ansen wheels. Spring of 67 Bill Thomas would install the new 67 Corvette HD Aluminum Head 427 L88. The car raced up until the end of 1969 in Salt Lake City Utah by its owner Sid Harmon.
Robert Auxier purchased it from the Estate of David Luria Portland Oregon Dec 2014. After completion of this car, he then took it to Goodwood FOS in England. Here's the story directly from Bob...
For the first time ever for a Genuine Cheetah it was invited to Goodwood FOS in England. I just made it by finishing up the full restoration early June 2016 but missed the Ship over, So I had to Fly it over. I was able to show it off and I got to drive the Hill Climb.
The best experience of my life time.
We took it to Barrett Jackson Scottsdale Arizona event Auction, It bid to $850K -- no sale so I took it home. Later in the year a Collector called and bought it, Our asking price was $1,000,000. The most awesome Full Race Cheetah on the planet, 1 Bad Ass Bill Thomas Creation. Now its in the history books.
Restored to Museum quality with 1964 Cadillac Met Green & Green matching interior.
Documented with Title history having its Genuine Bill Thomas issued ID#.
Very Rare indeed.
This Genuine Cheetah has been Certified By BTM and comes with letter of Authenticity. Plus it comes with Dossier made by BTM.