Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we've got reports from Speedhunters, The Truth About Cars, and Hemmings.
FAST CAT: THE BILL THOMAS CHEETAH – Speedhunters
One of my favorite Corvettes for the joyous insanity of it all. The car. The project. The notion
It’s fair to say these cars never even really got out of prototype phase though. Development began in 1963 but a fire in Bill Thomas’ shop took out most of the parts, several cars and even the original plywood buck used to form the first two aluminum bodies. On top of that there was an automakers’ racing ban in effect, so GM couldn’t be seen sneaking engines out the back door for Bill Thomas’ Cheetahs. The final nail in the coffin came when Chevy realized just how competitive the Cheetahs could be, not just to Cobras, but to their own flagship Corvette. With all of these combined pressures, Chevy pulled the plug on the Cheetah project in mid-1964. I’m purposely keeping the history lesson brief because that’s not the story I want to tell in this post.
Are Failures Really Failures? – The Truth About Cars
Our friend Doug E. Doug on what makes a failure, and what makes a convertible SUV.
I think my colleagues would agree that we, as automotive journalists, do not devote enough attention to the burgeoning convertible SUV segment. This is partially my fault. I stood idly by when the segment doubled in size with the 2011 arrival of the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. And again, I’ve hardly batted an eyelash at reports of yet another entrant: the Range Rover Evoque convertible.
Cars of Futures Past – 1948 Tucker 48 – Hemmings
It still looks strange and almost futuristic 65 years later.
As originally envisioned by Tucker, the Tucker Model 48 (named for its debut year of 1948) featured some truly groundbreaking designs. George Lawson penned the streamlined coupe bodywork, featuring the driver in a central position instead of offset to the left (a design that would much later be embraced by McLaren on its F1 supercar). Located in the rear of the car, the proposed 589-cu.in. aluminum flat-six engine was so under-stressed that an overhaul would not be required for the first 180,000 miles. Tucker’s original design lacked a conventional transmission, too, and in its place a pair of torque converters would have sent power to the rear wheels.
Photos: AP, Speedhunters/Sean Klingelhoefer