OH SO CLEAN
Chris Trisnan's '70 Plymouth 'Cuda
What? A stock car in Car Craft? Yeah, we normally peek out from under the hood when something rowdy burbles by and then walk right past a string of stock musclecars at a car show without a second look. Lately we can't help noticing how many musclecars are out there that are restored to stock or really close. We know you're thinking snoozeville, but maybe these guys are onto something. We're not becoming all numbers-matching on you--we're just going to introduce you to a resto guy to find out who would own a car that looks good instead of goes fast.
This 'Cuda's owner is an artist. His name is Chris Trisnan, and he doesn't work with paint and an easel; he uses steel and electricity. When he was a child growing up in England, he began experimenting with light and shade and drawing cars. At the time, American television was pervasive and the car culture was as big as ever. Chris watched Starsky and Hutch tearing around the city doing rockfords and donuts in the flying tomato, and it sucked him in.
"I was educated in North England, and I was doing really well in the art world when I met a guy who built custom cars," says Chris. "I began to paint murals on bonnets and won a couple of awards at local shows; that got me to London."
Once Chris was in the big city, he made some money selling Datsuns and doing paintwork on the side. Through his painting, he met some drag racers who were flying to Orange County, California, for a meet. He hitched a ride and came face-to-face with '70s Americana. "I saw the cars I love whizzing by--Mopars, Corvettes, and all the things that are completely out of reach in England," he recalled. In 1982 he moved to the United States.
"America isn't like England," says Chris. "America rewards risk-takers, and I am a risk-taker." Chris put his skills to work as an apprentice at a sign company and soon was good enough to start his own company, Graffiti, which builds environmental graphics and architectural signs. When his business took off, he started looking for a 'Cuda.
"I had a Harley in the back of my mind, but the E-Body was seductive," says Chris. "The stars lined up and a matching- numbers car with a big-block and the right colors appeared." The car was a '70 Plymouth 'Cuda for sale in Canada. It was tough to get because the owner didn't want to sell the car to a flipper or a dealer. The car needed a good home. "It was like a job interview, and I could hear his wife saying that he should keep the car," he recalled. "I had to talk him into it."
Unlike many of us who are technical and mechanical, Chris is visual. His appreciation of the hobby comes from the colors and forms of the early musclecars during the years of wild hues and graphics. "I was looking for a color with a lot of impact, and Rallye Red with a cream interior did the job. I am a visually driven creature, so the wilder cars are more interesting than something with just a big engine, but both are best."
After securing the 'Cuda, Chris had it shipped down to the O.C. on a huge transporter. Even the driver was diggin' it. On the way, he called Chris to tell him how nice the car was. "It was like a dream come true when the car was lowered off the transporter," Chris says. He was so excited to drive the car that immediately after taking the keys and the build sheet from the driver, he took it for a spin. When he got back, the build sheet was gone. Bummed, he settled for a copy provided by the original owner. Maybe he's a little like us after all.