On newsstands January 29th, 2019, you can find KTL Restorations Inc and the Lethal Cat as the featured restoration story in Hemmings Muscle Machines.
Every year, on June 10, a reminder pops up on Chuck Donaldson’s Outlook calendar: “Check your fire extinguishers.” It was on that day, in 2014, that Chuck aimed a fire extinguisher at the flames engulfing the engine compartment of his 1970 Cougar Eliminator and squeezed the trigger. But instead of saving the day, Chuck’s extinguisher wheezed and puked out about a cup of dry chemical. Meanwhile, the blaze, ignited by a backfire from the Cougar’s numbers-matching 428 Cobra Jet, was getting angrier by the second.
“I had been cranking the engine, which was unusual because it typically started pretty easily,” Chuck said. “The battery was starting to run down a little bit, but I pumped the gas pedal a couple more times and cranked it again. Suddenly it went: Boom! And then flames shot out of everywhere. I tried using my fire extinguisher, but it was expired, so I slammed the hood back down hoping to cut off some of the oxygen and ran to get the garden hose.”
When Chuck returned, moments later, the fire had grown even more intense, melting a carburetor fuel bowl, burning the exterior paint, and consuming the wiring, rubber parts, etc. Worse still, the Cougar was parked in Chuck’s garage—attached to his house. Chuck’s neighbor saw the smoke and called the fire department.
When firefighters arrived, they launched an all-out assault on the burning Cougar. They pried open its hood with crowbars and flooded the engine with water. Plastic dash bits were smoldering inside the car, so they smashed the windows to ventilate the interior. Once it was safe, they pushed the Cougar outside and continued pouring water on the car for almost a half hour.
"By the time they left, it wasn’t even smoldering,” Chuck said. “The fire was out.” As the emergency rigs drove off, Chuck could see his neighbors in the Dallas, Texas, suburb, all gathered around the cul-de-sac in front of his house. His young daughter, fearing the worst, had moved her pet bunny rabbit to an undisclosed location. Chuck was dumbstruck by what had transpired.
Check out the full story (MM_March2019_Resto) here!