Machine Design

Backtalk 3/21/2013

Craig Ruth has a passion for cars, particularly Corvettes. Craig dreamt of starting his own business and building a car from scratch, so he turned away from a successful engineering career to start his own business. His passion from cars came from his father, Bob Ruth.

In 1958, Bob bought his first new Corvette and hasn’t looked back. When he wasn’t racing, he was working on cars. Eventually Bob and his dad bought a shop for just Corvettes. Craig is now the third generation of Ruth Restorations Inc. “The Corvette Shop” in Grafton, Ohio.

With his engineering background and car expertise, Craig stumbled on the Cheetah. It was a 1960s car built by Bill Thomas and meant to compete with the Ford Cobra. Unfortunately, Thomas only built about 15 or so of the cars before going out of business. The company has built nine, allRuthengineered Cheetahs since March 2008. Each car is handcrafted to order, so no two are exactly alike. “As far as I know we are the only local company that builds a car from scratch,” Craig said.

For their Cheetah, they opted for the 9096 C4 Corvette suspension and designed a 1½in. round tube chassis to get the wheel base and track to resemble the original. Front A pillars were added to house a DOTlaminated windshield and front door pillars were added to increase door stability whether they were latched or opened. The twopiece bonded doors have a recessed latch. The car features bonnet flares over the front wheels.

Inside, a handlaid dash follows the look of the original. It is uncut, permitting custom gauge layout. The tunnel is cut for the shifter and available transmissions include the Muncie fourspeed, Tremec TKO fivespeed, and T56 Magnum sixspeed. Mounts for lap belts are provided if the car is to be street driven. For a roadrace car, an additional bar is added behind the driver for shoulder harnesses. The doorstep entry is part of the body, and is molded in.

The car’s rear facia uses the midyear taillight assembly and features a recess for a license plate and light.

Additional features include a bonnet that tilts forward like on the original. Optional side latches provide security for street-driven models. Bonnet’s side skirts are molded in behind the grill to channel all airflow through the radiator, which is mounted far forward. An electric fan provides cooling. The engine compartment is designed to use block hugger headers, which eliminates the heat problem in the original version. The car’s pedals and master cylinders allow room for drivers over 6 ft.

The Ruth’s next project is to build a Cheetah for the Ohio Speed Challenge, Ohio record for its class by breaking 200 mph.

For more information on the Cheetah, go to

© 2013 Penton Media, Inc.

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