We can't help but think what could have been with the Dodge Challenger. Had Chrysler developed the car before rising gas prices and the economic downturn, we might have seen all sorts of variants. Perhaps a top-of-the-line model with a 426ci Hemi V8 could have challenged the Shelby GT500 as the king of the road. Those in warmer climates surely would have loved a droptop version, and since we're day dreaming, we could even imagine a Hemi Cuda version if Plymouth was still around.
Enter Norm Kraus. The legendary owner of Grand Spaulding Dodge in Chicago known as "Mr. Norm" has filled in the gaps by Chrysler and unveiled a 426 Hemi Challenger and Cuda Convertible this past weekend at the Chryslers at Carlisle event in Carlisle, PA. Mr. Norm's Garage, now based in Hudson, FL, will be producing a limited run of these convertibles.
Like their coupe siblings unveiled at SEMA show last year, the droptop Challenger and Cuda share styling cues from E-Body ancestors from the early 1970s. The Cuda version is modified with a new grille inspired by the 1971 model year, a shaker hood system, Hemi billboard graphics, straightened rear quarter panels, and '71 Hemi Cuda taillight assemblies. The interior gets custom leather and suede seating, a pistol grip shifter, and custom mats.
Backing up the look is a 426ci Hemi V8 underneath the hood complete with a forged rotating assembly and a Kenne Bell supercharger that produces 725 horsepower. To compensate for the extra thrust, Mr. Norm has fitted each car with a Viper-spec Dana 44 differential, a fortified driveshaft, frame connectors, and a fully adjustable coilover suspension system.
We don't have any live photos quite yet, but you can read all about them in the press release after the jump.
Related GalleryMr. Norm's 426 Hemi Convertibles
[Source: Mr. Norm's Garage]
Introducing the new 2009 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda Convertibles from Mr. Norm, the name that's synonymous with the most incredible high performance Mopars ever built and offered to enthusiasts. 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 compelling presence of the original 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda can be seen in the appearance of these vehicles. Both are the result of impeccable breeding, a pedigree with genes handed down from their celebrated ancestors that can be appreciated by enthusiasts of all ages. Design cues recall themes and details readily recognizable by aficionados, and have been carefully selected and refined to imbue these mighty Mopars with 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. They're bold, brash, in your face and exactly what you would expect from Mr. Norm.
Supercharged 426 Hemi Power...and More
Complementing their unforgettable appearance, the Mr. Norm's 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda Convertibles deliver overwhelming performance matched with superlative handling and braking in equal proportions. In doing so, they set a new benchmark for all muscle and performance cars in their category and beyond.
The Mr. Norm's 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda Convertibles are a showcase for the latest in Gen III 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 7 liters, or the magic Mopar number; 426 cubic inches. Far stronger than the factory cast rods and pistons, these components provide the ultimate complement to the Mr. Norm's Signature Kenne Bell 2.8 liter twin screw supercharger that pumps up the volume of the Hemi engines to a whopping 725 pavement melting horsepower.
Backing up the performance of the thundering supercharged Hemi engines on both convertibles is the Mr. Norm's Hi 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 significantly 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. TTI manufactured the low restriction cat back dual exhaust system that produces an aggressive exhaust note that befits a blown Hemi. 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 that are sure to turn even the most jaded enthusiast green with envy. Inspired by the mag wheels that were popular when the first Hemi Challengers and Hemi Cuda's ruled the streets, these new forged, multi piece, 20 inch wheels evoke all of the nostalgia of the originals, with the added benefit of 21st century design and engineering. Complementing the wheels is a set of ultra high performance Pirelli tires that provide the new Mr. Norm's Hemi cars with the kind of grip that puts the bias ply wide boots of yesterday to shame.
The appearance of the Mr. Norm's 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda Convertibles doesn't merely hint at the rippling Hemi power beneath their sensuous skins, it conveys it loud and clear. Authentic E-Body influenced themes resonate through every inch of the Mr. Norm's 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda Convertibles.
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 1971 Hemi Cuda tail light assemblies that flank a custom tail panel with genuine '71 '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 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, and demand authenticity in their Mopars. 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.
Names that Honor a Great Legacy
Mr. Norm's 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda. No-nonsense names for no-nonsense ultra high performance vehicles. One look at them, 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 cause young and old alike to stop and stare, while creating a burning desire to own one.
The Mr. Norm's 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda represent the renaissance of the breed of automobile that is uniquely American. Without question, the beauty, strength and power of these vehicles can be seen in even their most subtle nuances. The Mr. Norm's 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda Convertibles are much more than ordinary high performance cars. By sheer virtue of their genetics, these are vehicles that link the past to the present while signaling the direction of the future.
Writing the Next Chapter in History
Pose the 2009 Mr. Norm's 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda side by side with the originals. You can easily see the resemblance between them. The bold body of the latest generation and its aggressive stance, coupled with the supercharged Hemi power that rumbles beneath the shaker hoods truly mark the next step in the advance of the classic American, big bore V8, high performance rear wheel drive muscle car. While they pay homage to the original Hemi Challenger and Hemi Cuda, these vehicles are totally modern. The new Mr. Norm's 426 Hemi Challenger and 426 Hemi Cuda Convertibles were created to ignite the passion of hard core performance enthusiasts who grew up with their legendary ancestors, while singing their siren song to a new generation who have yet to experience the excitement these vehicles offer.