The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!

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The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!


Post by xr7g428 » 06 Jun 2018, 18:24

Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard is the June 2018 Ride of the Month

One year later...

Mike Czajkowski lives with his wife Katie, and their one year old daughter Sophia, in Perkasie Pennsylvania. Perkasie is older than the United States having been the estate of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. About 35 miles north of Philadelphia, Penn found it to be the ideal location for his country home. Known as America's Home Town, it still shines with the same beauty that attracted Penn over 300 years ago.

Like many of us, Mike's first car was a Cougar, a bit newer than most, an '83. It was a hand-me-down from his uncle and the V6 under the hood was nothing special, but at 16 it might have been a magic carpet. Another Cougar would provide much of Mike's hands on automotive education. It was an '88 XR-7. He bought it not running and swapped in the 5.0 HO drive train from a Mustang. Eventually he would also swap out the automatic for a manual T5. A succession of other Ford products would follow including a Lincoln Mark V11 LSC, an '87 Mustang GT, and more recently a 2013 Mustang GT.

Mark describes his journey back into Cougars like this. "I purchased the Cougar in June of 2017, right in the height of all the 50th anniversary stuff going on which was neat. I had always loved the 67-68 Cougars and wanted to buy one someday. I’d owned my 2013 Mustang for about 4 years, and I was getting to the point of being done with it. It was a fun car, fast but I wanted something older I could tinker with more. I decided it was time to sell the Mustang and look for that Cougar I always wanted."

Going to the Carlisle Ford Nationals with his friend Matt was an annual event for Mike. "I thought that might be a good place to kill two birds with one stone. I figured with the 50th anniversary of the Cougar being the feature of the show that year, I’d have a good chance of finding a nice Cougar for sale. So I took the Mustang out to try and find a buyer. Had a very interested couple see the car Saturday night in town and wanted to stop over to the fairgrounds Sunday to take a closer look and test drive it. I waited around all day, didn’t hear anything. So, we started home and after driving 20 miles down highway 81 they finally called. I was still fairly close so I headed back to meet them. It turned out to be a good decision as they offered to buy the car. We agreed on a fair price with the condition that I would deliver the car to the Carlisle area the following weekend (I live about 2 hours away)."

"At the same time, I was on the lookout for any Cougars for sale at Carlisle. There was a nice ’70 convertible that was tempting, but I really wanted a '67-68. There were none at the show, but a Madras Blue ‘68 Cougar just happened to pop up on Craigslist while we were there. It was a private seller about 30 minutes from the fairgrounds. I decided if we’re going to be coming back out to deliver the Mustang, why not stop and take a look?"

Mike and Matt made the 2 hour trek back to Carlisle, finished the title transfer for the Mustang and headed out to look at the Cougar. Mike describes the Cougar. "The first thing that struck me with this car was the paint. There are a few blemishes but overall, it’s a really nice paintjob and the color looks fantastic in person. There wasn’t much history on the car, I only knew that it had been recently painted and had the floor pans replaced. The odometer showed 38K, but I had no idea how many times it may have rolled over. I’m guessing at least once."

"It was a car that had a really nice body and paint with no rust but needed some mechanical work. This is exactly what I was looking for. The car ticked all my boxes and the price was right, so I decided to jump on it before someone else did. While it did run and drive, it was obvious that it wouldn’t be safe driving 2+ hours on the highway. My friend Chris was kind enough to take a half day and help me tow it back. So a few days later we headed out with a U-Haul truck and trailer and hauled the Cougar home."

Once he had the Cougar home he was able to really take stock of his new, old cat. "The body and paint were very nice, so the car didn’t need a full restoration. It’s more of a work on it/drive it car. The interior is in pretty nice shape, but mechanically it needed quite a bit of work."

Mike and Sophia checking out the new Cougar

"I started with the engine bay. Everything was kinda rusty, worn out, mismatched and it didn’t look very good. So I removed all the bolt-on parts from the motor and gave it a nice coat of Ford Engine Blue. I replaced the water pump, thermostat, alternator, starter/solenoid/cables, belts, fuel lines, valve cover gaskets, plugs/cap/rotor/vacuum advance, PCV valve, breather, heater hoses/control valve, radiator hoses. Installed an aluminum radiator and new fan clutch. I also painted or powder-coated the exhaust manifolds, accessory brackets, valve covers and air cleaner. Afterwards the engine bay looked much cleaner and all the bolt-on components were refreshed."

Next up was the steering and suspension. "The steering was extremely worn out, the play was excessive to say the least. So I sent the entire power assist system-box, pump, control valve and power ram out for rebuild. At the same time I replaced the entire front suspension-springs, shocks, control arms, sway bar endlinks/bushings, tie rods, idler arm. When it was all said and done, the car rides great now and with the 1” lowering springs has cured the infamous Cougar reverse-rake."

Inside the Cougar really didn't need much, just some minor issues with the center console and the rear window tracks. A Retrosound stereo with Bluetooth was the biggest addition.


As delivered Mike's Cougar was well equipped. It was originally ordered on July 25th of 1967 but didn't leave the factory gates until December 30th. But once it hit the ground at Wilson Powell Lincoln Mercury in Hillcrest Heights Maryland, it was old in only 10 days.

Mike is a hands-on Cougar enthusiast, doing most of the work himself only farming out highly specialized items. "I have to give a shout out to Grandview Service Centre in Perkasie PA. They did a great job on the alignment and getting the manual drums adjusted and stopping incredibly well. I also had a lot of parts powder-coated by Bonehead Performance in Warminster, PA. Everything they did came out beautifully and they were great to work with. Of course, West Coast Classic Cougar has been a godsend. Besides having a ton of parts no one else has, they have a wealth of knowledge for the Cougar community. I gave them my business as much as possible. I also used CJ Pony Parts for some of the shared Mustang-Cougar parts that I needed, and they were good to deal with and local in PA."

Mike documented much of his work with a thread located here: viewtopic.php?t=7960

If you have been paying attention time-wise you may have noticed that all of this took place in less than one year! Mike tells us; "This past weekend I was able to attend the 2018 Carlisle Ford Nationals with the Cougar, where I actually won 2nd place in my class! I really wanted to make this show, and I wasn’t sure I’d have the car back in drivable condition in time. It was cool that all the hard work over the winter months paid off. People loved the car at the show, I chatted with a lot of current and previous Cougar owners that really liked the car. It was a bit nerve-wracking going on a 2 hour drive right after I got it roadworthy, but it ran well and got me there and back without issue."


We often wonder what the future holds for our hobby but Mike is doing his part to share the passion with the next generation. "My wife isn’t really into the car culture, but she’s supportive of my interest and will attend some local car shows with me. I spent a lot of nights and weekends wrenching on the car this winter to get it on the road and she was very understanding. My daughter is a year old, but we’ve taken her to a few car shows already. Gotta start them young, I’m hoping to have her out wrenching in the garage when she gets a little older! She loved the race car set I bought her at Carlisle so that’s a good sign!"

In closing Mike has a few thoughts about his experience. "It was really cool to go out and buy the Cougar I always wanted right in the midst of the Cougar 50th anniversary year. Getting to see all the rare cars like Cougar #1 in person at Carlisle was very neat. I didn’t have my car in time to enter the 2017 show but finding it that year was the next best thing."
Bill Basore, Editor / Publisher
Legendary Cougar Magazine
Currently in the Cat House
'67 XR7 GT 390 4 speed, AC, AM FM, Lime Frost Green
'68 XR7-G 428CJ C6, Tilt-Away, AM, Black Cherry
'68 XR7-G 390 4 speed, Sunroof, Cardinal Red
'68 XR7 GT-E 427 C6 AM Cardinal Red
'68 XR7 resto mod 351W, soon to be AOD, Black Cherry

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Re: The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!


Post by COUGRR » 06 Jun 2018, 19:51

Nice story. Congrats on Ride of the Month and welcome to the Cougar Community!
1968 Standard Dan Gurney Special Convertible Conversion

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Re: The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!


Post by jcbingcougar » 06 Jun 2018, 20:17

Great car and story. Congratulations!
Jeff Bingaman
1970 Cougar
1956 Ford F100
1960 Dodge Phoenix
2017 Mustang GT Premium
2017 F150 Platinum

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Re: The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!


Post by SPLINEHEAD » 07 Jun 2018, 05:40

Congratulations on ROTM!

Gary Hill
Pole Cat
1969 XR7 390 S code 4bbl C6 3.0 TrueTrac rear end

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Re: The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!


Post by mfc133 » 07 Jun 2018, 06:08

Thanks to Bill for an amazing writeup and everyone who voted for my cat this month!

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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Re: The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!


Post by R Code » 07 Jun 2018, 07:28

Congrats on ROTM Mike, and the award from Carlisle. Keep sharing that Cougar love!
- Chris

1967 Std 4 speed conversion
1989 Merkur XR4Ti

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Re: The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!


Post by Leroy R » 07 Jun 2018, 08:06

Congrats, Nice looking cat. I really like that blue.

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Re: The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!


Post by berns68 » 07 Jun 2018, 08:11

Congrats Mike! Great looking 68!

1968 Standard Hardtop, Nordic Blue
302 F code, updated to 4V
Originally 1 of 2
ROTM May 2014
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CCOA member #9618

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Re: The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!


Post by ssava » 07 Jun 2018, 09:59

Nice Cougar! Congrats!
'67 Cougar XR7 purchased September, 2017 to work on with my twin (14) year old boys
Franklin, TN

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Re: The June 2018 Ride of the Month is Mike Czajkowski's '68 Standard!


Post by scottfzeller » 07 Jun 2018, 10:40

Scott Zeller
1969 Cougar XR7
CCOA Member# 9559
ROTM December 2016: ... =33&t=7055
C.A.T.S. Classic Cougar Club - Club Services Director

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