Stinebaugh was an inventor with at least 48 patents to his name. He’d invented a snowmobile engine that made him a fair amount of money, for one. His cars grew out of his tinkering with off highway vehicles. He built several all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) that people liked, including tandem axel models that pre-dated today’s side-by-side utility task vehicles (UTVs) . Had he continued down that (non) road, he might have done well with his vehicles. He got distracted, though, when people started to encourage him to convert his ATVs for street use.
Cutting to the chase, the 1975 Leata was born from those early off-road vehicles. It had a hand-laid fiberglass body, an 83-HP Pinto engine, and a diamond tuft interior that would not be out-of-place in a hot rod. The first Leatas looked a bit like a British Morris (left in the photo) with a continental kit on the back. Stinebaugh built about 20 of them. One was returned because it went too fast for the owner.
There was no 1976 Leata, but Sinebaugh wasn’t through. He brought out the Leata Cabalero in 1977 (right in the photo). It came in several models, including a convertible and a pickup. The Cabalero was basically a Chevette with a custom body. Where the original Leata could claim snappy performance, the 1977 models were sluggish. The automotive press panned them. Stinebaugh made and sold about 70 of them, then closed up shop.
Leata’s were not aesthetically pleasing. They filled no real automotive need that couldn’t be filled by a Pinto for less money. Still, my hat is off to Mr. Stinebaugh for following his dream and creating an Idaho original.