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Bill Thomas Motors is offering service for Parts and Restoration.
Alan Green Chevrolet in Seattle, Washington ordered three new Cheetahs from Bill Thomas Race Cars late in 1963. The second Alan Green Chevrolet Cheetah had a long and successful racing career.
The first Alan Green Chevrolet Cheetah was built to racing specifications. It was destroyed in a practice accident before the American Challenge Cup race at Daytona on February 15th, 1964.
The third Alan Green Chevrolet Cheetah was built as a streetcar. It flipped in an accident at the drag strip in 1970.
The second Alan Green Chevrolet Cheetah was also built to racing specifications. This Cheetah is now restored to its original beauty with an outstanding racing record, including the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA) events in 1964-65.
1964 Bill Thomas Cheetah - originally owned and campaigned by Alan Green Chevrolet
Alan Green took delivery of the second Cheetah in March 1964. It was raced extensively during the 1964 and 1965 seasons, usually under the Alan Green Chevrolet banner. The Cheetah was delivered in red with large block lettering “ALAN GREEN CHEV” on the front fenders. Its maiden race, the California Sports Car Club event, took place at Pomona, CA, on March 22nd, 1964. Somewhere about June 1964, the car was repainted Alan Green “green”. The first color pictures of the Cheetah in green from this time period are from the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside International Raceway in October of 1964.
Photos taken at the July 4th, 1964 races at Bend, Oregon, indicate that was when rear fender flairs first appeared. The front fender flairs were added for the Los Angeles Grand Prix held at Riverside in September 1964. Over the winter of 1964-1965, the rear fenders were widened, and the front fender flairs blended in. The Cheetah first appeared with this final body configuration at The Players 200 at Mosport, Canada
The drivers for Alan Green Chevrolet included Jerry Grant, Allen Grant (the Grants are not related), Don Jansen, Gary Grove, and Larry Webb. Jerry Grant became a factory driver for Carol Shelby and was on the Cobra team that won the 1965 FIA World Constructors’ Championship for Shelby American. Jerry also drove GT40 Fords at Le Mans and Sebring and drove the Indy 500 many times. Allen Grant also later drove for Shelby American at Daytona, Sebring, Monza, Tourist Trophy, Le Mans, and Reims.
In May 1966, Alan Green Chevrolet sold the Cheetah to Jerry Copely of Medford, Oregon. He had it painted by a friend, whose color of choice was purple, and he raced it for one year. Copely won the SCCA Regional Championship for his class, but when his wife became pregnant, he sold the car to Barrie Grant of Grants Pass, Oregon, in March 1967.
Barrie Grant (not related to the other Grants) painted the Cheetah yellow, then later blue. He raced the Cheetah through 1970 and picked up two more SCCA Regional Championships. In May 1972, Barrie Grant sold the car to Rob Pinkham of Lake Tahoe, California.
Pinkham began a ten-year restoration of a very used and tired Cheetah, transforming it into a streetcar. That included things like a functioning horn, turn signals, and a windshield wiper. In 1982 Pinkham had the car licensed for the street, overcoming problems like no ID tag affixed to the car, or numbers stamped to the frame. He tried to contact Bill Thomas but was unsuccessful for help in getting an ID number. The Cheetah project had left Bill Thomas with a very poor opinion of Chevrolet, who had promised great support for his Cobra killer car but never delivered.
For years he wouldn’t talk to anyone about the Cheetah. With no guidance from Bill Thomas, Pinkham chose BTC003 as the ID number. He had it welded to the square tube upper front cross member. This was the ID number used when the Cheetah was licensed for street use. Pinkham moved to Southern California and entered the Cheetah in Concours in the Southern California area. As a spectator, he drove it to vintage races. He went to the Monterey Historics twice, the Palms Springs Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA) Vintage races, and the Vintage Car Road Races held at the Carlsbad, California Drag strip complex. At Carlsbad, he had a picture taken with himself and Zora Duntov standing by the Cheetah and the Cerv II, the Chevrolet test car. The Cheetah was also featured in a GMC truck advertisement at this time.
Fred Yeakel from Trabuco Canyon, California, purchased the Cheetah from Rob Pinkham in May 1989. Yeakel took off the original body and stored it in the rafters of his garage. He located an original body in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that had never been on a car. The rear body had been cut up. After repairs, the new body was painted red and installed in the car. It was lettered with the number 8 and Allen Green Chevrolet logo on the front fenders.
For 22 years, since its debut at a VARA race at Willow Springs in 1990, the second Alan Green Chevrolet Cheetah raced on the West Coast from Mission Raceway in Canada to Coronado Island, California, across the bay from San Diego.
It raced more than ten times at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races. It also competed at Sonoma, Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas, Crows Landing, Thunderhill, Phoenix, Willow Springs, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles Vintage Races to name some of the tracks.
In 1994, the first year for the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC), Seniors Tour Series, Yeakel’s Cheetah won the Entrepreneur’s Cup for front-engine cars. Automobile Magazine and Corvette Quarterly have both done feature articles on the Alan Green Chevrolet Cheetah. Several times Vintage Motorsport has chosen the Cheetah as “the Pick of the Litter”.
In 2009, the ( FIA) issued a Historic Technical Passports (HTP) to the ex Alan Green Chevrolet Cheetah. This is the only Cheetah known to have an HTP. The HTP makes the car eligible for any FIA event in the world.
In the fall of 2012, the original body was put back on the frame and painted in its 1965 livery. The process took over a year and included a new modern wiring harness. The dual air meter fuel injection was rebuilt at this time. Original American Racing five-spoke magnesium wheels are still on the car.
Bill Thomas started tuning engines for Corvettes in 1957. In the spring of 1963, and with the promise of back door support from Vince Piggins & Bunkie Knudsen of Chevrolet, Bill Thomas called in Don Edmunds, his chief fabricator, and told him that he wanted to build a light-weight, Corvette-powered coupe to sell. The first fiberglass Cheetahs produced were for racing. According to Don Edmunds, “we got them out the door without worrying about serial numbers or ID numbers.” They needed four cars to run the American Challenge Cup at Daytona, scheduled for February 15th, 1964. The Cheetah project went on life support with the withdrawal of Chevrolet’s support in 1964 after the first 11 cars were built.