Want to be different? Do you want to be so different that you scare the kids in the car next to you on the highway? For some, simply painting their Cobra something other than blue would be considered different. But Bob Henderson of Timberlake, Ohio (just northeast of Cleveland), and his son (also named Bob) wanted to stand out in a crowd.
Sr. and Jr. are admittedly hardcore Chevy guys, so there would be no chance of a Blue Oval product ever sitting in their garage or driveway. With Jr. owning a pair of early-'70s Novas (one a drag car, the other a 6-71-blown street car) as well as a full-cage '01 Camaro SS . . . well, you get the idea.
So when Sr. found an unfinished Cheetah project in Maryland on the Internet back in June of 2004, he thought that might be different enough to build. Cheetahs beat the pants off a bunch of Fords back in the day, and that was all right with him. After buying the project and getting the roller back home, the Bobs took the body off the frame and evaluated what they had to do. The original concept was to finish the car in a year, mostly so they could have it ready to debut at a local show.
But as car projects sometimes do, this one then sat untouched in the garage for eight months! By the time February 2005 rolled around and with the self-imposed deadline only four months away, the pair decided to get cracking and finish up their car. The work started with the frame by plumbing it with stainless steel line, upgrading the disc brake system with SSBC twin-piston calipers, and changing the stock coilover setup over to adjustable QA1 coilovers (front and rear).
The motor, a 350 that came out of Jr.'s '73 Nova drag car (where it ran 11.30s), was backed to a four-speed Muncie that was stuffed with a CenterForce II clutch and flywheel combo. Braided 8-AN stainless steel line was used for the fuel delivery, as was a NASCAR billet fuel log, which feeds the four IDA Weber carb system (Sr. wanted an old-time look for the engine to match the Cheetah's mid-'60s timeframe). A short-throw Hurst shifter is used, as is a four-inch-diameter aluminum driveshaft.
And just because both Bobs are gearheads and like cars that go fast, they aren't above making things look good, too. Polished aluminum parts are everywhere on the car, especially under the flip-front nose in the engine compartment (i.e., the aluminum radiator and hoses). A local NASCAR fabricator made up a set of extra-long side-exit headers for the beast, which were then ceramic-coated for performance and low maintenance.
As if a street-driven Cheetah with a Weber-topped race motor wasn't enough, the Bobs weren't about to make their wild roadster a wallflower when it came to the paint 'n' graphics department. They took the body to S&M Autobody in Eastlake, Ohio, for a generous coating of '03 GM Arrival Blue, set off with red and white pearl candy stripes. The paint job was then followed by an airbrush artist who created some shadows (to give the graphics depth) as well as some extra graphics.
With the body painted, it was back to the garage, where the Bobs bolted it down to the frame and began installing the wiring, which was to be fully hidden. To accomplish that, the pair built a center console that would conceal most of the car's electronics (including a mini fuse block, MSD Ignition system, coil and rev limiter, and battery disconnect). The Bobs used a Painless Wiring harness to wire the roadster, using Auto Meter Ultra-Lite gauges in the dash and custom switches for the headlight, and turn signals.
A wooden Grant steering wheel lends a vintage air to the cockpit, but the cars does boast some updated safety equipment, such as the LED third brake light flush-mounted in the rear rollbar, five-point RJS seat restraints, and a fire extinguisher. The rest of the interior was finished off by recovering the bucket race seats in black velour (with "Cheetah" stitched into the headpiece), which match the floormats in their look.