In a hobby that's more than dominated by the Blue Oval, it's refreshing to run across neat odd rods once in a while. Chris Bartosh's '53 Plymouth Cranbrook is a great example of the potential to be realized in just one of what many consider an off brand when it comes to customizing. Let's face it-the Plymouth nameplate isn't one that conjures up instant custom rod images, but Chris' cool Cranbrook may very well begin to change all that.

Chris' coupe sports a Frantic Fred's modified stock chassis as its foundation. It's been updated with a disc brake-equipped Heidt's IFS assembly and rack-and-pinion steering up front, a Chris Alston four-link/coilover-suspended 9-inch Ford rearend, and a quartet of American Racing five-spokes wrapped in low-profile Kumho ASXs.

The heart of this beast lies in its muscular powerplant. After blowing the previous engine to smithereens, Chris was intent on building a replacement that would perform every bit as well as the '53 looks, and he certainly accomplished what he intended. The new engine is based on a Mopar 360 block that has received an ample dose of Mark Characky magic. Mark assembled Chris' new powerplant using only the finest in performance components. A 4-inch-stroke Mopar Performance forged crank was installed using Clevite mains and then fitted with a set of forged Eagle H-beam connecting rods topped by a fresh set of Diamond step-dished forged pistons and Speed Pro rings to complete the reciprocating assembly. A .488-lift/244-degree-duration Clay Smith cam operates a set of Crane Gold 1.6-ratio roller rockers and Edelbrock springs and valves mounted in a pair of bowl-blended Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads. Topping the potent long-block is a port-matched Edelbrock RPM Air-Gap manifold mounted with an annular discharge 825-cfm Demon carb. To handle all that muscle, Chris chose to run a beefed-up B&M Pro Bandit-shifted 727 transmission equipped with a B&M Hole Shot 3,000-rpm stall converter and a performance shift improver kit. A custom-made driveshaft then transfers the resulting power to the coupe's aforementioned 9-inch rearend.

Not to be overshadowed by its muscle, Chris' Cranbrook is a looker as well. Dan's Auto Body in Littlerock, California, handled the bodywork and paint, performing a few requisite custom touches, like a shave, a gaggle of louvers, and a french job on the headlamps. With the body massaged and ready, Chris chose an eye-opening hue of bright red, and Dan sprayed away. Like every other segment of the build, the interior received more than its fair share of attention as well. The dash was customized and outfitted with a full complement of VDO gauges; the GM tilt column was fitted with a Grant Banjo-style wheel; and a pair of Scat/Procar racing seats was added too.

We don't think it'd be a stretch to say Chris' '53 is one of the coolest Mopar coupes we've seen in a long, long while-and we're hoping it won't be the last, either.