U.S. 30 Drag Strip
In the fall of 1962, a new Dodge dealership opened at the intersection of West Grand Avenue and North Spaulding Avenue in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, owned by a 28-year old entrepreneur named Norman Kraus, or “Mr. Norm” to his customers. His dealership, Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge, would grow to become a performance mecca for Mopar enthusiasts, creating some iconic muscle cars of its own along the way. Though the dealership is now long closed, Mr. Norm’s lives on, with the Mopar performance specialist celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
From the beginning, Mr. Norm applied a different business model to his Dodge dealership. Rather than target the average middle-age buyer shopping for a station wagon or family sedan, Grand Spaulding Dodge focused its business on selling performance cars to young buyers, largely ignored by rival dealerships. When Dodge didn’t offer a suitable vehicle to take on the competition, Mr. Norm’s would often tackle the challenge of building it themselves. Such was the case with the 1967 Dodge Dart GSS, which Mr. Norm had requested to counter sales of Chevrolet’s Chevelle SS396.
Told by Dodge engineers that the 383-cu.in. V-8 wouldn’t fit under the hood of a Dodge Dart, Mr. Norm ordered in a Dart and a crate 383 engine, turning the project over to his service department. A few days later, the 1967 Dodge Dart GSS (for Grand Spaulding Special) was born, proving the Dodge engineers wrong. The necessary modifications were relatively minimal, and consisted of repositioning the engine mounts, shaving the A-frames and installing a heat shield. When the car was shown to Chrysler executives in Detroit, they immediately instructed engineers to begin building Darts with 383-cu.in. V-8s sold under the Dart GT Sport (or GTS) name. The following year, Chrysler would drop a 440-cu.in. V-8 into the Dart at the request of Mr. Norm, and 50 of these were sold as Dart GSS models (in addition to being offered by Dodge as the range-topping engine on Dart GT Sport models).