Norman Holtkamp's "Cheetah Transporter" might have made it to the cover of the December, 1961 issue of Car and Driver, but due to a massive design flaw, it could never become the Mercedes-beater it was meant to be. Luckily, today, it is in the good hands of Jeff Hacker, America's number one authority on rare fiberglass cars.
For 1955, built what became the most iconic race car transporter in history. According to the Germans, the truck could top 106 mph, using the fuel-injected straight-six of the 300SL. Three years later, Californian hot-rodder Norman Holtkamp thought he could do better.
The 1961 issue of Sports Car Graphic makes no mistake about what we're looking at here. Using a wrecked Mercedes-Benz 300S sedan, a 1959 El Camino cab, Porsche torsion bars, the 3-speed automatic from a Corvette, Corvair headlamps and a 300 cubic inch Chevy V8 mounted at the rear, Holtkamp created a flatbed that was supposed to be fast, but also balanced once loaded.
Despite 300 lbs. worth of additional water tanks at the rear, the Cheetah Transporter remained hopelessly nose-heavy, tilting forward continuously under braking. Once the truck changed hands, the engine was moved further back to solve this issue, with power steering and high-performance brakes added to the long list of modifications.
However, Jeff Hacker intends to turn it back to original, doing the necessary engineering changes to make it drive properly. At least as good as the one Mercedes-Benz made, back in 1955.
As luck would have it, Jeff also has a mystery 1948 Packard Super 8 Convertible “Monte Carlo.” A car that wouldn't fit his transporter...