The formula for making money in the car dealership world is to spend the majority of marketing on the average adult car buyer who’s looking for a normal, responsible sedan—something that gets from point A to point B with not too much flash or rowdiness. Horsepower definitely isn’t at the top of the list. You can create a successful business and make a good living like that, but man, what a boring place for a car guy.
These days, we take it for granted that there are aftermarket tuner companies willing to offer high-performance versions of our favorite cars. It’s almost a given that the performance numbers can be improved. But back in the first muscle car era, there really wasn’t much of a turnkey industry for tuner cars going above and beyond the best factory versions.
That’s where a 28-year-old entrepreneur named Norman Kraus saw an opportunity. From the beginning, Mr. Norm (as he became known) applied a different business model to his Grand Spaulding Dodge dealership. Lots of dealerships were already following the boring dealership model we described, so he asked himself: as a young car guy, what would he want to see in a dealership? The good stuff, of course! Fast, loud cars with an aggressive personality. With that in mind, Grand Spaulding focused on selling performance cars to young buyers, and if Dodge didn’t have what was needed to take on the competition, Mr. Norm and his crew would build it.
“Dodge engineers replied that the 383 wouldn’t fit in the Dart’s engine bay. Mr. Norm said ‘bull’…”
In the most famous example, Mr. Norm put in a request to Dodge for delivery of Darts fitted with Chrysler’s 383. This would help do battle with lightweight, big-engine options from GM and Ford. Dodge engineers replied that the 383 wouldn’t fit in the Dart’s engine bay. Mr. Norm said “bull” to that and ordered a Dart and a crate 383, telling his crew to make the necessary changes to get the engine in and take detailed notes. The mods were actually minimal, and they had the 383 in the Dart and running within a few days. They called it the GSS for Grand Spaulding Special, and Dodge was shocked. They immediately instructed engineers to begin building Darts with a 383 engine using Mr. Norm’s modification list and called it the Dart GT Sport (or GTS).
“…they had the 383 in the Dart and running within a few days. They called it the GSS…”
The following year, Mr. Norm decided to go for more and build a 440-powered Dart. Starting with a new ’68 Dart 383 GTS, by the end of next day the conversion was completed. Fitting the 440 big-block into the A-Body was surprisingly easy, but the question was who could build the GSS 440 Dart in the necessary quantities? Hurst came to mind, not only because Grand Spaulding had been selling and installing their products for years, but Mr. Norm also knew they had a solid fabrication shop. A phone call to George Hurst confirmed that he was on board, and Chrysler began shipping new 383 GTS Darts to Hurst where they were converted into 440 GSS Darts, and then sent to Mr. Norm at Grand Spaulding Dodge. That successful collaboration would lead to many other projects with Hurst over the years.
The Kenne Bell intercooled blower kit might look like a work of art, but make no mistake, the “Mammoth” is all about the power. In dyno testing verified by Mopar Muscle, the otherwise stock 392 SRT engine put down 563 hp to the tire on 91-octane pump gas in 50-state smog-legal trim.
“…then came the rebirth of the Challenger in 2008. Now there was a proper muscle car with all the look and attitude of the 1960s, and it even had an option for a Hemi…”
Over the subsequent decade, Mr. Norm and Grand Spaulding Dodge took on other directions as the times changed, such as basically inventing the conversion van in the muscle car malaise era, until he sold his ownership in 1977. After that, it wouldn’t be until the late 1990s when he teamed up with Larry Weiner to create the Dodge Limited Edition Mr. Norm’s Supercharged sport trucks. These would be new performance vehicles that would have real power upgrades, and it would have his name on it. It’s not that Mr. Norm had lost interest in muscle cars; it’s just that there wasn’t that much new stuff that really got him excited. That was one of the reasons behind the rebirth of the GSS Hemi Dart in 2006. Debuted at the SEMA show in the Mr. Gasket Company exhibit, the run of fire-breathing ’68 Darts was limited to only 40 serially numbered vehicles. Several were sold immediately, and the rest followed shortly.
The blown GSS doesn’t pull air from the Hellcat’s hollow headlight, but they still look bitchin.
And then came the rebirth of the Challenger in 2008. Now there was a proper muscle car with all the look and attitude of the 1960s, and it even had an option for a Hemi underhood. It was time for Mr. Norm to make a comeback. First, he joined forces with Modern Muscle at the Mopar Nationals in the formation of Mr. Norm’s Garage, which would be the brand name for new signature series engines, suspension systems, and other parts for vintage and late-model Mopars.
The new Challenger interior tops out as our favorite late-model muscle interior, bar none. It’s the right balance of muscle and class, and the Hurst-edition leather seating in the GSS package just makes it even more inviting.
To create those signature engines, Mr. Norm worked with a major aftermarket engine builder to build Mr. Norm’s Signature Series Hemi Engines—both in Gen-II and Gen-III versions. There was a plan brewing for those engines besides crate programs. At 2008 SEMA, Mr. Norm pulled the cover off two new Challengers, one converted into a blown 900hp Mr. Norm’s Super Challenger, and the other a Mr. Norm’s Super ’Cuda. These Challengers were loaded with Katzkin leather, Hotchkis suspension, Corsa exhaust, and a whole host of other parts handpicked to create the baddest Challengers around. These three cars were the start of a new generation of GSS muscle.
Of course it has a Hurst billet shifter! This short-throw arm makes the six-speed Tremec row noticeably better than the factory part.
This came at an opportune time for Hurst as well. They had decided to wind down their own Hurst package Challengers and were looking to expand their product line beyond manual and automatic shifters into custom wheels, disc brakes, line locks, exhaust, and more. Teaming up with Mr. Norm’s Garage to create a line of GSS Challengers was the perfect match. Born of that program is the beast you see here: the Mr. Norm’s Hurst Supercat GSS Challenger. Starting out as a 392ci Scat Pack Challenger with a six-speed, the GSS Challenger wears George Hurst’s favorite color combo of white and gold, and sports Hellcat-specific bodywork in addition to some GSS-only style and aero parts like the Mr. Norm’s Speedway Splitter with adjustable Heim joints, and ‘71 Hemi Challenger-style hoodpins and lanyards on the SRT8 hood. We could go on, but honestly we’d rather have you drool over the photos and captions.
“The 392 is already a very respectable 485 hp, but Mr. Norm couldn’t let it leave it alone. Atop the big Gen-III he added a Kenne Bell Mammoth supercharger…”
We do, however, have plenty to say about the engine. The 392 is already a very respectable 485 hp, but Mr. Norm couldn’t let it leave it alone. Atop the big Gen-III he added a Kenne Bell Mammoth supercharger to bump the horsepower up to 650 at the flywheel. You might notice that’s darn near Hellcat territory. The neat part is that the insurance people don’t know that, so not only do you not have to pay the Hellcat’s MSRP and dealer mark-up, you also don’t have to pay Hellcat insurance premiums.
We like the original Scat Pack front end, but the Hellcat truly is the most aggressive of Challengers. The Hellcat bodywork makes the GSS match it’s awesome supercharged performance, but as this photo shows, it can easily be added to any ’15-up Challenger.
The roles may have reversed since the 1960s, with Mr. Norm now providing cars for Hurst rather than vice versa, but the commitment to quality and performance has not. Mr. Norm brings the hot rodding and horsepower expertise, Hurst delivers high-quality aftermarket products that add style and refinement, and together they create Challengers that are a breed apart from the rest. Just like all of Mr. Norm’s projects, though, the Supercats are ultra-limited in production with only 50 slated to be built, a fraction of the Hellcats that will be produced. If you want the power, the history, and the style in one package, the Supercat is your car.
Get Kenne Bell Power For Your Scat Pack Or SRT8!
Kenne Bell calls it the Mammoth, and displacing 2.8 liters it’s a large positive-displacement supercharger for use on stock 392 Hemi engines. But that’s not really where it gets its name. The “Mammoth” part is actually referring to the sheer size and volume of air the supercharger air plenum can move.
There’s a sign at the Kenne Bell’s digs that says, “Airflow isn’t the only thing … it’s everything.” That’s because they understand that an engine is a combustion-driven air pump, and the whole key to making more power is increasing and managing the volume of air an engine can ingest and expel. Every supercharger kit Kenne Bell sells is based on this theory, and the Mammoth takes it to the max.
The Mammoth system is all about creating the maximum amount of horsepower at the lowest air-charge temperature for a given boost level. Achieving that requires more than just bolting a blower on top; the whole system has to be designed around it. To maximize the density of the air/fuel charge, Kenne Bell employs a highly efficient liquid-cooled heat exchanger looped with a transfer pump to an equally efficient liquid-to-air heat exchanger in the air stream just under the front bumper.
But supercharger size, efficiency, and even boost are secondary if the inlet system is undersized and cannot supply copious airflow. Enter the Mammoth. The airflow path starts with a rear-entry, oval-shaped manifold that flows 1,850 cfm. That’s a monstrous number, especially considering the stock 392 airbox flows 777 cfm. Feeding that is a 4.5-inch air inlet pipe that ingests only cool, dense air from the Kenne Bell inlet filter located behind the front bumper. When you feed a twin-screw supercharger like this, only good things can happen.
Mr. Norm has worked closely with Kenne Bell since the debut of the Hemi to develop kits that are turnkey monsters. These kits will take a stone-stock 392 Hemi to the absolute max level of horsepower, just like the GSS Supercat—which was a key part to the development of this package. When you’re ready for some boost on your 392 Scat Pack or 392-powered SRT8, it’s hard to go wrong with a winning combo like this.
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