Tag: Replica

By on September 8, 2010

Part One of this piece can be found here.

Were it not for an act of God, the fecklessness of General Motors’ executives and the difference between a self-promoting Texan and a Californian willing to walk away from it all, the many Cobras you see, real and ersatz, would be joined by another predator, Bill Thomas’ Cheetah.

Developed with backdoor assistance from Chevrolet, the Cheetah was the Chevy powered answer to the “Powered by Ford” Cobra. A racing Cheetah was given one of the first Gen IV big block 396 Chevy “rat” motors made. Based around Corvette drivetrain and suspension components, and a not very robust tube frame, the Cheetah was covered in a body that is unforgettable.

Though the Cheetah only competed in a small number of SCCA races, winning 11 events while simultaneously developing a reputation for extreme speed but treacherous handling (caused by the flimsy chassis), its drop dead gorgeous body styling made it instantly memorable. The fact that the Cheetah came out in the mid 1960s, when scale models and slot car racing were hugely popular with teen baby boomers, didn’t hurt the car’s popularity.

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By on March 22, 2010

Over the weekend I penned a screed calling baby boomers to task for embracing retro style over the the values that made the revolutionary cars of their era so revolutionary [editor's note: there's nothing like having a carburetor on your 35 year-old motorcycle magically fix itself to inspire faith in old, simple machinery]. The new New Beetle was square in my crosshairs over the weekend, but it’s hardly the only example of boomer retro-madness. Another favorite for nostalgic boomers are the legendary muscle cars that marked the high-water point for Detroit thunder, and this feverish demand combined with limited original runs have run the prices of famous muscle cars into the Barrett-Jackson stratosphere. It’s also inspired a legion of knock-off and replica manufacturers, who see huge money to be made by aligning supply with demand. They, in turn, have inspired a number of huge lawsuits from the original creators of the limited-edition legends. Carroll Shelby’s prolific legal battles against creators of Cobra replicas have given him the reputation of being a guy who never met a buck he didn’t like, and now GM has joined the Shelby legacy, suing Mongoose Motorsports for daring to produced replicas of the 1963 Corvette Grand Sport roadster.

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