Watford Sports Cars

The Cheetah

The Watford Cheetah was launched in December 1959 by Watford Sports Cars who were based at Woodmans Yard, High Street, Watford, Hertfordshire.  This Ford side valve based vehicle was the brain child of Mr B. J. Millar.  Mr Millar (known as Dusty), had originally worked in the engineering section at nearby Tornado Cars, helping to produce Tornado Typhoon’s, under Anthony Bullen. 

 Listed with an 8 ft wheelbase the Cheetah featured a ladder chassis constructed in 16 S.W.G. three inch tubular steel.  Suspension at the rear consisted of coil spring suspension units under which the Ford rear axle was kept in position by means of a Panhard Rod assisted by the donor Fords Torque Tube.  The front suspension comprised a ‘split’ axle, the factory converting the donor Ford axle into an independent unit at the works.  The Cheetah chassis cost just £70.0.0d complete ex works.

 Made of G R P the Cheetah’s spacious body shell was available in a choice of 5 colours.  The body came complete with floor, bulk head and boot floor; the doors were boxed to improve strength.  The Cheetah body is considered to be well made and designed, having been aimed at the commuting or touring owner rather than the competitive driver.  Supplied with door hinges & locks, floor mats and a panel trim the body cost £130.0.0d from the factory.  Additional accessories were available including a hard top and unusually, fibre glass hub caps.

 A criticism perhaps is that the windscreen was a rear screen from a production car which spoiled the overall look of finished Cheetah’s.  At the time using a rear screen was a common practise.  In later years owners fitted more modern windscreens to reveal the smooth lines of the body.

 At first glance the Cheetah seemed set for success but behind the scenes things may not have been running so smoothly.  The chassis is very similar to the Typhoon.  Tornado’s directors are known to have visited the Watford premises and threatened legal action at the time.  In later years Cheetah owners have found the chassis prone to fracturing on the main rail.  For a brand new product from an inexperienced company the Cheetah body is made to such a high standard that I suspect manufacture may have been sub contracted to an industrial moulding company, if this is so then overheads per unit would have been high.

 Many questions remain unanswered about Watford Sports Cars and their Product.  Where were the bodies made and do any moulds survive?  The Watford Company were also known as Montesa Motor Cycles (GB).  Certainly the motor cycle side of the business may well have taken off - did this lead to the kit cars being discontinued?  We have never found a worker from the days of car production at the factory who could fill in any of these details, correspondence published in the Watford Observer newspaper unearthing only past owners, not those who were behind the venture.  Somewhere Mr Millar or Co-Directors K. J. Hynder and J. G. Bound or their families must exist.  Hopefully reading this on the web will unearth someone who can tell us more, for if not, all we know is that by the end of 1961 Watford Sports Cars were no longer advertising.

Dave Malins