Boutique sports car maker behind the Cheetah Evolution is up for sale

The company keeping the history of one of America’s coolest but lesser-known sports cars alive is now up for sale. Ruth Engineering, the company that has built 23 copies of its Cheetah Evolution, is up for grabs for the relatively paltry sum of $200,000.

If you’ve never heard of the Cheetah, it’s understandable. Only 10 or 11 of the original Bill Thomas Cheetahs were ever built. Think of them as a Chevrolet-powered rival to the Shelby Cobra, except rather than being based on a European roadster, the body of the Cheetah was scratch-built.

Cheetahs typically used Corvette Sting Ray drivetrain and suspension parts, including their independent rear suspensions. Setting the front wheels forward and the driver back to just in front of the rear axle while moving the engine and transmission rearward to meet the third-member —there wasn’t even room for a driveshaft—concentrated the mass in the center of the car and created a front-mid-engine layout. The short wheelbase and ample power surely made for twitchy handling, although in the right hands the Cheetah had the makings of a monster sports car.

cheetah evolution car engine closeup
Brandan Gillogly

The Cheetah Evolution was redesigned and reengineered in the mid-2000s by Ruth Engineering to use more modern GM suspension components, although the style is still unmistakably Cheetah. We’ve seen versions powered by LS V-8s and the Australian-built LS V-12, so when it comes to a choice of a powerplant, there should be plenty of options that will fit.

The scarcity of the original Cheetahs makes them an uncommon sight. They rarely come up for sale and are even less frequently up for sale, with many of their recent auctions ending before the reserve is met. Current values are well into the six-figure rangel; for roughly the price of just one original Cheetah you could own the company that builds their successor.

Such a beloved chapter of American racing should have enough fans to keep this new version of the Cheetah alive. We’d love to hear that Ruth Engineering survives to churn out Cheetah Evolutions and give all those Shelby Cobra clones something to fear when it comes roaring up behind them.

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