It's been nearly 50 years since the legendary Grand Spaulding Dodge set up shop at the intersection of Grand and Spaulding in Chicago in 1963. For the next 15 years it was the epicenter of the Mopar performance universe, operating under the guiding light of Norm Kraus, aka "Mr. Norm," who knew if fast was good, faster was better.
Mr. Norm pioneered the concept of dealer-installed performance parts and was dedicated to giving customers the opportunity to customize their new Dodge automobiles before driving them off the lot.
At the same time in Warminster, Pa., George Hurst was developing a line of premier high-performance shifters while establishing close working relationships with Detroit automakers. Hurst shifters would soon find themselves as factory-installed options in several performance-oriented cars, including the landmark Pontiac Grand Prix GTO.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Norm and Hurst eventually crossed paths in a big way. In an attempt to better compete with the powerful Ford Mustangs and Chevrolet Camaros of the late 1960s, Mr. Norm pushed Dodge to offer a 383-cubic-inch-displacement version of the Dart in the form of the Plymouth Barracuda Formula S. A production run of 500 units followed.
While a 383 Dart was good, Mr. Norm knew that a 440 Dart would be better. And after Chrysler told him that the 440 engine wouldn't fit, Mr. Norm quickly built a prototype that proved Chrysler wrong. The next 50 cars were serialized with an M in the vehicle identification number and became known as the M-Code Darts. The first vehicle collaboration between Mr. Norm and Hurst was the 1968 Dodge Dart M-Code. All were built by Hurst-Campbell exclusively for Mr. Norm, who quickly sold all of them.
Well, the M-Code Dart has been reincarnated by Mr. Norm, and this time pickup truck enthusiasts can get a taste of the action. Introduced at the 2015 Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas, the limited-production Hurst Heritage GSS Ram 1500 and Hurst Heritage GSS Challenger can be had by go-fast fans.
The Hurst Heritage edition starts with a 2016 Ram 1500 in any trim level in regular or crew cab with two- or four-wheel drive. The model pictured is a regular-cab, two-wheel-drive Express. It's equipped with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It will be offered only in white.
Each Hurst Heritage GSS Ram gets upgraded in three areas: exterior, chassis and the interior. The exterior features Hurst custom-painted stripes and the Ram R/T-style hood anchored with custom pins and lanyards. The rest of the exterior upgrades include Bushwacker fender flares, Mr. Norm's aero roof spoiler and a special fuel door applique. Around back you'll find a 1960s-style "Hurst Equipped" badge and a Hurst logo license plate. Out back is a BedRug upholstered bedliner beneath the SnugTop SnugLid SL tonneau cover.
All Hurst Heritage GSS Ram chassis are equipped with standard 20-inch Stunner wheels with 22-inch PVD chrome wheels and Nitto 420S 305/45R22 performance tires as options. The truck's stance is enhanced by Ground Force lowering springs shock absorbers. Sister company Flowmaster supplies the cat-back dual-exhaust system with 5-inch exhaust tips peeking out from the back bumper. Under-the-hood modifications are limited to a K&N intake system, and the engine cover is painted Hurst gold to match the stripes.
Inside, black-and-white Katzkin custom leather upholstery with Hurst embroidered logos and carbon wings create a modern retro feel. Before the new trim is installed, each front seat is treated to Katzkin Degreez heating and cooling elements. Other upgrades include plush carpet mats, a serial number plaque, a unique shift knob and stainless-steel pedal pads.
The Hurst Heritage GSS is offered as a package, but it can be built to order depending on customers' needs and desires. The standard Hurst Heritage GSS Package starts at $15,995 over the price of the regular-cab Ram Tradesman/Express. Since not every owner will want the cooled and heated seats, the tonneau cover or the bedliner, these are available as options. The interior upgrades shown on the pictured truck are all included in the base package price; crew-cab versions will cost slightly more given the upgraded Katzkin rear-seat trim to match the front buckets. A complete list of the standard Hurst Heritage GSS Package can be found by clicking here.
This new sport truck follows in the footsteps of legendary Hurst performance cars and is now available from select Ram dealers nationwide. For more information on the Hurst Heritage GSS Ram 1500, call Mr. Norm's at 813-789-6179 or visit www.mrnorms.com.
Cars.com photos by Richard Truesdell