The April 2018 Ride of the Month is Brian Carpenter's Track Cat!

The April 2018 Ride of the Month is Brian Carpenter’s Track Cat!

From humble beginnings…
In 1967 Aaron Baker’s dad bought a brand new Cougar. It would be his fathers daily driver taking him to work in Seattle until they moved to Michigan in the late 70s. And the timing was perfect for Aaron as he had just received his license and the no-longer-new Cougar would still be a cool car to drive to school. Until, after driving for only a few months, Aaron hit a deer.

While terribly unfortunate for Aaron, it was possibly the best thing that could have happened to the Cougar. Like most teenagers, Aaron’s stated intent was “to drive the wheels off it!”. As it was, hitting the deer in November meant the Cougar wouldn’t see a Michigan winter on the road, sparing he car from the ravages of road salt. Aaron started gathering the pats he needed; a grill, hood, and one fender, but he never got around to fixing it. Girls and life got in the way and the Cougar repair was never completed.

By April of 2012 Aaron was operating his own successful home building business. He was married with two girls. He had always been convinced that some day he and the kids would fix up the old Cougar. As the years passed he had finally come to grips with the realization that his two daughters would never share his interest in rebuilding the Cougar, and it was time to sell.

Brian Carpenter, had his own ideas about a father son project with his son Mitchell. When he found Aaron’s old Cougar he wasn’t sure whether it could be rebuilt or maybe just parted out. Once they got it home, and added some fresh gas and a battery, the Cougar fired right up. No smoke, no drama, it ran well enough to drive around the yard. It was as if the old cat still had a few lifetimes left to give. Sure, the trans was weak, but the Cougar did show promise.

Although the Cougar had been off the road, there were still plenty of rust issues to deal with. Interior floors needed patched, the trunk panels were shot, and the quarters would require patches as well. If the car had been rare, it might have made sense to return it to original condition, but a better option would be to turn it into a fun track car. Brian’s work allows him to drive on OEM test tracks (think Detroit area automotive proving grounds). Having his own track Cougar had always been a goal.

Brian describes the build this way. “After rust repairs were complete, and some strength added to certain areas, the Auto Power 6 point cage was installed. The TCI (Total Cost Involved) three link rear suspension was added along with TCP (Total Control Products) front suspension and Wilwood disc brakes.”

“I had a 351 Windsor so we built it into a 408 stroker, targeted to make between 550 and 600 hp. The stroker feeds a Tremec TKO6 road race five speed transmission. We also used an aluminum flywheel and driveshaft to reduce mass and keep inertia low so the rpm’s will rise quickly when exiting a corner on the track. And of course, an Eaton TruTrac rear end with 3:89 gears puts the power to the ground.”

The complete build story can be found here:

On the outside the color was changed from what appeared to be gun metal gray back to white. “Ford performance white was chosen and accented with Ford Fleet gray. We figured white would be easier to fix if we had a fender bender on the track. The build was completed in June 2015 but didn’t get track time until September. We had a consistent rear main seal leak on the engine that took a few attempts to get it sealed up.”

“We’ve had it to the track about seven times and have done improvements each time. We added inner axles seals and made custom axle retainers to limit brake pad knock back. An improved crank case breather system on the motor and a catch can to the rear end keep the track tidy. An engine oil cooler and some door panels are also recent additions. Being a race car it will never be finished as it will always need maintenance and improvements.”

Brian’s son Mitchell hasn’t had much time lately for car projects as he is finishing his sophomore year at Western University studying mechanical engineering. He is also working at Eaton in the advance valve train group, following in his fathers footsteps.

The Track Cat represents well for the Cougar community, watch out for those claws!

Congratulations Brian on another ROTM win! I remember this car at Dearborn last year.

Congrats, Brian!

Congrats, looks good on the track as well!

What a hoot to drive, I bet!

Love it, congrats Brian!

Congratulations Brian. You’ve scored another ROTM. Well done! Great choice on white, it makes your Cougar look lean and mean.

Nice work! Good to see that brought back to a new life.

Congratulations Brian, Great story. The Track Cat also makes a sweet looking header picture.

Congrats, that’s one beautiful race car.

Thanks for the compliments! I texted Mitchell the link yesterday and his response was : Wow that’s way cool!
Haven’t removed the track cat from storage yet this year. Still waiting on the weather to improve.