Photos by Travis Noack
Based on the Challenger SRT-8, the Mr. Norm’s 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertibles echo the styling and performance of the original, iconic, E-body muscle cars that inspired the creation of these vehicles. These drop tops mark the beginning of a new chapter in the history of two legendary muscle cars that spans nearly 40 years.
The influence of the original 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi ‘Cuda can be seen in the appearance of these two vehicles. Design cues recall themes and details readily recognizable by aficionados, and have been carefully selected and refined to give these Mopars the same sensation of raw excitement that set the original 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi ‘Cuda apart from their contemporaries when they were new, and still continue to dazzle enthusiasts today.
The Mr. Norm’s 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertibles are a showcase for the latest in Gen Three Hemi performance. Each of the engines is equipped with a new reciprocating assembly that includes a forged crank, rods and pistons that increase engine displacement to 7L, or the magic Mopar number, 426 ci. Far stronger than the factory cast rods and pistons, these components provide the ultimate complement to the Mr. Norm’s Signature Kenne Bell 2.8L twin screw supercharger that pumps up the volume of the Hemi engines to a whopping 725 hp. TTI manufactured the low restriction cat-back dual exhaust system that produces an aggressive exhaust note that befits a blown Hemi.
Backing up the performance of the thundering, supercharged Hemi engines on both convertibles is the Mr. Norm’s high performance rear suspension system that replaces the stock components. The Mr. Norm’s rear suspension system utilizes the beefy Viper SRT-10 spec Dana 44 differential that’s mated to a more robust driveshaft and half shafts. In addition, the 426 Hemi Convertibles also feature the Mr. Norm’s Chassis Bracing Upgrade that includes frame connectors and additional bracing for a stiff unibody structure. Balancing out the awesome power is an AFCO fully adjustable coil-over suspension system that provides great stance and handling without compromising ride quality.
Accentuating the bold stance of the Mr. Norm’s 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles is a set of classically inspired Mr. Norm’s Thrust custom wheels. Inspired by the mag wheels that were popular when the first Hemi Challengers and Hemi ‘Cudas ruled the streets, these new forged multi-piece 20-inch wheels evoke all of the nostalgia of the originals. Complementing the wheels is a set of ultra-high-performance Pirelli tires that provides the new Mr. Norm’s Hemi cars with the kind of grip that puts the bias ply wide boots of yesterday to shame.
The front of the Mr. Norm’s 426 Hemi ‘Cuda sets the tone for the entire vehicle with its bold ’71 Hemi ‘Cuda inspired grille and dedicated ‘Cuda Shaker hood that features a recreation of the exquisitely proportioned original Hemi ‘Cuda Shaker by Mr. Norm’s Garage. Remaining faithful to its ‘Cuda heritage are new 2009 Cuda quarter panels, also by Mr. Norm’s Garage, that feature the correct horizontal character line that completely differentiates it from its Challenger stable mate, matched with bold Hemi billboard graphics and bright trimmed ‘Cuda fender gills. The attention to detail continues in the rear, where Mr. Norm’s Garage incorporates actual ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda taillight assemblies that flank a custom tail panel with genuine 1971 ‘Cuda script. Hemi ‘Cuda exhaust tips exit conspicuously from the rear fascia, calling attention to the consistent detail and design continuity that this vehicle conveys. The Mr. Norm’s 426 Hemi Challenger showcases the same attention to detail with its dedicated Challenger Shaker hood, body side graphics and Hemi Challenger exhaust tips.
The interiors of the Mr. Norm’s 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles feature glove-soft Katzkin black custom leather and suede covered seats that are accented with yellow top stitching that complements the exterior colors and graphics. Mr. Norm’s embroidered logos grace the seatbacks and the custom carpet mats, a subtle reminder that these are very special vehicles. And in keeping with their ultra -high-performance theme, each of these 426 Hemi cars is equipped with a real pistol grip shifter for the six-speed manual transmission, the essential component for those who revel in the thrill of shifting for themselves. Designed to appear like the original trendsetting pistol grip shifter, these new shifters by Mr. Norm’s Garage feature a carbon fiber or wood grain handle that’s a mirror image of the original, mounted on a chrome-plated arm.
One look at Mr. Norm’s 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi ‘Cuda, and you know that these are two muscle cars that are not to be trifled with. The Mr. Norm’s 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi ‘Cuda pay homage to the heritage of the original Hemi Challenger and Hemi ‘Cuda. In an era of generic look-a-like cars that have as much personality as an angry kitchen appliance, the Mr. Norm’s 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi ‘Cuda convertibles radiate the kind of charisma that create a burning desire to drive one.