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GH Interview – Manns 1971 Pymouth Cuda “Orangasm”

This 1971 Hemi Cuda is one of a kind

Here at Gearheads we like to spotlight ingenuity and craftsmanship no matter where it comes from, but today we get to see the work of a shop that has the ability to do…well…anything! These are craftsmen that have the ability to turn rust into reborn. To take a tetanus inducing deathtrap into a show stopping tire burner with all the amenities of a modern day vehicle. Manns Restoration is one of those shops that can take an idea crudely drawn on paper and deliver a final product beyond all expectations time and again. This interview is about their shop and their talent and has Americana & Gearheads written all over it. So we got to talk with Chris Roberts who has dedicated his life to restorations and keeping a heritage secured. Here is that interview…
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Gearheads – Chris give our readers, if you will a little history behind Manns Restoration.

Chris – Manns Restoration’s origins go back to 1927, when C.E. Manns left rural Missouri for Detroit to begin a career in the automotive trade. In 1939 he came to Festus and later opened a Kaiser Fraiser dealership. The family stayed in the trade and in 1976 a third generation member, Michael Manns took the focus to autobody and restoration work. In 1981 he restored his first automobile for a museum, The DiDia 150 {aka The Bobby Darin Dream Car} which is still on display at The Museum Of Transportation in St. Louis MO. In 1995 the company received national attention with the first and only restoration in the world of a running and driving Chrysler Turbine Car. Since then there has been a steady stream of top-end restorations shown in the most prestigious shows in the world. The most outstanding feature of the company is the amazing and diverse talents of the 20 man team. They constantly strive to achieve perfection in all areas of restoration and have the ability to adapt from concourse restorations of grand classics to high-end customs and cover everything in between.

Some of the many crowning achievements include,
  • 1932 V16 Cadillac, shown at Pebble Beach and chosen to be viewed by the Queen Of England at Windsor Castle
  • 1930 Edsel’s Sport Phaeton, a one off factory prototype missing half it’s parts restored to perfection and on display at the Edsel and Elanor House museum
  • 1936 Packard 120 Convertible Sedan, a 6000 hour restoration completed in 5 months for The Rockefeller Family
  • and many more.
Through honesty and hard work this business has survived and prospered now into the 5th generation of the Manns family.
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Gearheads – Chris what is your personal history as a Gearhead?
Chris – My personal history as a “gearhead” started in this very shop. I was 4 years old when MIke and my father {Arty Roberts} restored the Bobby Darin Dream Car. I spent most every day at the shop and was amazed by this crazy car with the huge fins, sparkly paint and chrome levers all over the dash. I rode in the car to a local show when it was finished and many others over the years. This early exposure to cool cars made me the gear head I am today. From the time I was old enough to read I absorbed every car magazine I could get my hands on. I eventually became a journeyman diesel mechanic but in 2007 had the opportunity to come to work at Manns Restoration and do what I always wanted to do.
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Gearheads – It seems that you have the portfolio to prove that you can restore just about anything with wheels, what has been some of the highlights and challenges with working with such a wide array of vehicles?
Chris – We specialize in quality craftsmanship here and enjoy the challenges of one off projects. Weather it’s a factory prototype from 1930 or a complete custom build we have the skills for any project. We have fabricated and duplicated many one-off parts with nothing more than pictures to work with, mastered composites, veneering and mold making.
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Gearheads – How did the “orangasm” project get started?
Chris – Orangasm started off as a bare rusty shell of a 1971 Cuda for a local customer. We replaced every panel available and made the ones that weren’t. The body was treated to a full rotisserie restoration and painted House of Colors Tangelo before returning to the customer for reassembly. The customer ended up selling the car with all the parts necessary to assemble it as a 426 Hemi 4 speed car. It was sold again without it’s drivetrain to the current owner who shipped it back to us to be built as a custom.
Orangasm 71 Cuda Gearheads 8Gearheads – What specs are we looking at for the 71 Hemi Cuda?
Chris – This car has a modern 6.1 Hemi with a Magnacharger putting out around 600 horsepower, TR6060 transmission and Dana 60 rear end. It has a Magnum Force tubular K frame with coilovers up front and a Magnum Force 4 link in the rear. The firewall is smoothed, hood , grill and rear valance customized along with a full custom interior, Vintage Air, Kicker sound system, power windows and locks.
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Gearheads – Placing a modern powertrain and technological advancements in this vehicle is something a lot of readers wish to do to their own projects. What advice can you give for the readers that wish to partake in such an endeavor.
Chris – Placing a modern powertrain and technology in an old car has many complications but ultimatly makes the car more enjoyable to drive. My advice for anyone wishing to do this is to do your homework. There is no such thing as too much research and planning. The more details you work out on paper the less headaches you will encounter along the way.
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Gearheads – How many hours would you estimate have gone into Orangasm from start to finish?
Chris – Total hours for this project are around 6000
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We wish to thank Chris for his time and for sharing their one-of-many awesome projects with us so that we could pass it on to you. I invite you to take a look at the Manns website and admire all the unique work they have accomplished.
Wanna see more Plymouth Cuda classics then click here.

Categories: Readers Rides

Uriah Nazario
About Uriah Nazario

If you are easily offended and like to comment about how your feelings are hurt then you won't like my style of writing. I speak my mind (which is deranged) and yes it is often offensive. I am open for debate but not whining. I appreciate all my readers and hope my articles put a smile on your face.