Back in 1992, Robert Auxier was working as a Corvette restorer and looking for a new challenge. On his desk, he had a 1:24 scale slot car model of a Cheetah… little did he know what a defining influence that would have. He spent a long time researching the cult 1960s racers and spent 20 years trying to buy the car you see here. Last year, that dream came true and he spent 12 months restoring the only big block Cheetah to bring it to the Festival of Speed.
JUN 24th 2016
This Cheetah Is A Full‑Size Slot Car
This 1964 example was originally owned by Hollywood Cadillac dealer Clarence Dixon and immediately pressed into motorsport action. It first had small block engine, and was upgraded to a 396cu in big block in 1965. At the same time, it received chassis reinforcement, and extra radiator and triple fuel tanks. Its specification became unique among the 29 cars built, 15 of which are known to survive.
The Cheetah’s story should have been one of a Chevrolet engined car taking on the Ford powered Cobra. Sadly, a rule change in 1965 meant that 1,000 road cars had to be produced to homologate the car, rather than the previous 100, and Chevrolet pulled its funding from the project. Consequently, the car moved to a modified class and never competed directly with its Ford powered adversary.
When Robert came to restore this car, his focus was on retaining as much originality as possible. The chassis is original, as is the bodywork. Having said that, the ultra lightweight composite body panels required strengthening from behind to ensure they are now more durable than they were in period. It also retains most of the 1960s interior, suspension and even sundries like the fuel filler cap. “It’s the most original Cheetah on the planet,” says Robert, “there’s not another one like it.” The work was completed too late to have the car shipped from Robert’s home in Phoenix, Arizona, so it was flown in to make its appointment on the hill.
“My research started with that slot car, and now we’re making history,” says Robert.