The Mr. Norm name is to the Chrysler vehicle family what Shelby is to Ford: they take a standard muscle car design and make it even better. The latest creation of come from the Florida-based tuner is based on the 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT-8 and brings the classic Plymouth Barracuda back to life in a jaw-dropping convertible model. Oh yeah, the car also comes packed with a near-ridiculous 725 horsepower squeezed out of a supercharged 426 cubic inch hemi V8.
Mr. Norm’s Hemi Cuda takes a lot of cues from the classic car, and no detail is considered too small. For example, the tail light assemblies are made to the exact specifications as those put on the 1971 Cuda and the Shaker hood scoop is also made to the same dimensions as the ’71. The rear body panels have been custom designed by Mr. Norm in order to maintain the horizontal lines of the classic, not to mention the paint job. And, you’re going to have a blast shifting through the gears, as the shifter is topped with a retro-styled pistol grip.
Don’t be fooled by the exterior, though. While the new Cuda owes a lot of its styling to the classic version, the car is equipped with the latest in sports car design that represents the 40 years of automotive innovation that has occurred since the original hit the streets. The most important part of this is the chassis. When you have a giant V8 engine pumping out this much power, you need to have a chassis that can support it, otherwise it’d twist into a pretzel shape the first time you really opened it up. The car starts with the unibody platform from the 2009 Challenger and then incorporates a series of cross braces and supports. The process is even more crucial because Mr. Norm’s offering is a drop-top, so all body rigidity provided by a hard-top roof isn’t there. The resulting chassis structure does add a fair bit of weight to the car, but with all those ponies under the hood, it doesn’t make that much of an impact on performance.
Putting all that power to the road takes a fair bit of engineering, so Mr. Norm’s started off in the only logical place for a Chrysler performance car: the Dodge Viper SRT-10. The Dana 44 differential is lifted from the Viper and mated to specially-designed half-shafts and a drive shaft in order to keep all the power pointed in the right direction. All four wheels are also fitted with fully adjustable coil-over suspension to keep the Hemi Cuda planted firmly on the ground. The 20-inch wheels skinned in high-performance Pirelli tires aren’t exactly straight out of the 70s, but wheels do take their design cues from the original. And you really wouldn’t want to try this new Cuda with Mag wheels of old.
The styling of the 2009 Mr. Norm’s Hemi Cuda may be a bit too much for some drivers nowadays, but for those who revel in the muscle car heyday of the late-60s and early-70s, it is right on target. And the power is more than ample, showing off just how much you can squeeze out of a 426 CID V8 with the benefit of a few extra decades of engineering and production know-how. The new Cuda is going under the Dodge nameplate, as Plymouth (which had the original) was discontinued after the 2001 model year, but that shouldn’t stop diehards: the new car has all the style of the original. And an extra few hundred horsepower.