The Mopar Performance King Rides Again
The question has been asked, “What’s in a name,” but there are those in every area that evoke a response simply by saying it. With Ford it’s Roush, and for some Chevy guys, it’s Zora Arkov Duntov. For lovers of all things Mopar, however, that name is Mr. Norm.
Born Norm Krauss in Chicago, IL, Mr. Norm became Mr. Norm due to a shortage of space in a newspaper ad that he and his brother Len had bought for their used car business. It was during this time (1956) that they noticed a keen interest in performance cars among their clientele, so it was decided that they would concentrate their efforts on procuring these types of cars for resale. Within a few years, they opened a new Dodge dealership (named for the dealerships location astride Grand and Spaulding streets) and announced that a primary focus of their new endeavor would be toward high-performance cars. Predictions of “lackluster success at best” by industry professionals proved to be totally off the mark.
In 1964, the first Grand Spaulding Dodge Racing Team was formed comprising of a Max Wedge and a Hemi Ram and soon the service department had to be enlarged to handle the ever-increasing demand for these style of cars. In 1965, Norm teamed with Gary Dyer to campaign an altered wheelbase Dodge Coronet equipped with a supercharged Hemi; a car many see as the laying the groundwork for the present day Funny Car. It ran an 8.63et at Lions Dragstrip to become the fastest funny car in the country. In time, Mr. Norm would go on to build the first 383 and 440 Dart GTS cars as well as the 340 6 Pack and supercharged 340 Demon. His Grand Spaulding Dodge dealership would be named the #1 volume Dodge dealership in the world.
In a tribute to all that he had given to the racing world, Mr. Norm was inducted into the A/FX Funny Car Hall of Fame (1996) and the Mopar Hall of Fame (1989).
It was shortly after the Funny Car induction that Mr. Norm teamed up with fellow Chi-town native Larry Weiner of Performance West Group to begin production of the limited edition Mr. Norm’s Supercharged 500 Sport Trucks and a relationship was born. Wiener, having grown up in Chicago was well acquainted with the Mr. Norm’s story, and jumped at the chance to work with one of his childhood heroes. Together they have built many limited edition Mopar vehicles that have graced many automotive magazine pages, and this Super ‘Cuda is just the latest to do so.
Based on the new Challenger, this car began as a design from Hulst Customs of Merlin, OR, who drew heavy inspiration from its race bred relative, the legendary 1970 AAR Cuda. Hulst worked his usual magic and not only came up with the overall design, he also painted it, and the car features his wheels and a custom front spoiler of his design. The Super Cuda features a modern interpretation of the classic Cuda grille and tail panel, coupled with the aforementioned front spoiler. Reinforcing the theme, the sides of the Hemi Orange Super Cuda are boldly accented with satin black strobe stripes by Sharpline Converting that work in conjunction with the Sherwin-Williams/Planet Color Badass Black that covers the hood and adjacent surfaces, much like its storied ancestor.
Inside, the cockpit features a Hurst Shifter for precise shifting of the five speed transmission, a Katzkin “Barracuda” custom leather interior with Hemi Orange perforated inserts and Super Cuda monogrammed carpet mats by Designer Mat.
The Super Cuda balances tire smoking power with a tuned suspension engineered by Hotchkis Performance. Insuring fade free stops from high speed are massive SSBC V8 8-Piston calipers while the rolling stock consists of Hulst Customs “1320″ 22-inch wheels matched with Pirelli Scorpion Zero Assimetrico ultra high-performance tires.
There’s plenty of power on tap thanks to the 6.1-liter Hemi engine, which sings its siren song through a low restriction Corsa Performance cat back dual exhaust system.
Though going strong for nearly 50 years, Mr. Norm shows no signs of slowing down, and in fact recently announced at the SEMA show new partnerships with World Products, Kenne Bell and Mr. Norm’s Garage to offer a line of purpose built, high performance supercharged 6.1 and 7-liter Mr. Norm’s Signature Hemi engines. Ranging in horsepower from 625 to 1,200 hp, these plug and play engines will be available directly from Mr. Norm’s Garage. As for this car, there may be a few left to be had, but you better call Performance West Group if you want to beat the rest of us to them.
Mr. Norm has spent his life beating other people to it, and he did it with Mopar cars and engines. Now thanks to him working in conjunction with the Performance West Group, the cars the he made famous can be had again, and this time you don’t have to live in Chicago to get one.