Q: I am a fan of MOPARS, especially the 1968 Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding 440 Darts. How can a car collector tell if a 1968 Mr. Norm Grand Spaulding 440 Dart is real? Charlie, K., New York.
A: Charlie, a friend of mine in Vineland, N.J., was one of the lucky 48 owners of an original Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge 440 Dart GSS. Norm Kraus, owner, built a major name for himself in the Sixties as the number one MOPAR performance dealer in the world operating out of Chicago.
What Mr. Norm did was actually pretty simple, as the 383 Dart GTS engine and the 440 engines were identical to the eye and used the same engine and transmission mounts. Thus, Kraus took a 383 GTS, made the conversion, showed it to Dodge and asked if they would build it for his customers only. Dodge agreed, and built 48 Mr. Norm Darts with the 440-inch, 375-horse Magnum V8 installed. To verify authenticity, the Mr. Norm 440 Darts came with a serial number with an M code in the VIN. When Mr. Norm got them back, he put special Mr. Norm's “GSS Dart” badges on them, the GSS standing for “Grand Spaulding Sport." My friend’s car was dark green. In ending, if someone shows you a Mr. Norm’s 440 Dart and it doesn’t have an automatic transmission, it’s not original as all were heavy-duty Torqueflite 727’s. We called them "Hemiflites."