The history of GSS SUPERCARS started as many companies in the automobile industry do; as a labor of love based on a passion for exciting automobiles
Larry Weiner, the project leader for GSS SUPERCARS, has been creating award winning show cars and race cars for over 40 years both as an enthusiast, and an industry professional. After a successful career in the textile maintenance industry in Chicago that spanned over 25 years, he decided to follow his dream, and in the early 1990’s he started what became Performance West Group, Inc.
It was at this time that Larry hooked up with Mr. Norm, the visionary who accurately predicted the immense impact baby boomers would have on the auto industry, particularly with regard to the emerging performance segment in the early 1960’s. Armed with this knowledge, Mr. Norm built Grand Spaulding Dodge into the leading high performance new car dealership of the era, and ultimately the number one Dodge dealer in the nation. Among his many achievements, Mr. Norm was the creative force behind the development and subsequent production of such legendary muscle cars as the 1968 GSS 440 M-CODE Dart.
Moving to Southern California in 1996, Larry hit the ground running. By the following year, he created the first of the new generation of Mr. Norm’s high performance vehicles, the 1997 Mr. Norm’s GSS SuperCharged Ram. Powered by a Kenne Bell supercharged 5.9 Magnum V8, this red hot Ram was a tire smoking encore to Mr. Norm’s original giant killer, the 1972 GSS Supercharged 340 Demon. Before the paint was dry, Weiner was burning up the interstates at the wheel of the Ram, long hauling in the Hot Rod Power Tour, and he hasn’t stopped since. Determined to work with the best and the brightest, Weiner met with numerous companies, building a dream team that includes industry legends like Kenne Bell Superchargers, Katzkin Leather, Hurst, Flowmaster, Stainless Steel Brakes, Hotchkis Sport Suspension and Lil’ Louie Pinstriping, just to name a few.
During the next five years, Performance West Group partnered with General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and SEMA to create an unprecedented series of five consecutive Official Cover Vehicles of the SEMA SHOW. These award winning vehicles included the Corvette inspired Chevrolet “Searing Silverado,” the Dodge “Dakarta” off road racer that was photographed with none other than Jay Leno, and the rugged Ford Sport Track “Extremist.”
Working with OEM organizations like the Chrysler Image Team and the Ford Image Team, Performance West Group created a seemingly endless stream of Image Vehicles, some of which, like the stunning Dodge Rumble Bee concept, became the foundation for the production version that debuted at the 2004 Detroit International Automobile Show.
In addition to creating concept and show vehicles, the company also orchestrated the design and build of promotional vehicles and management programs for powerhouse ad agencies such as J. Walter Thompson for their client Domino’s Pizza. With the advent of zero emissions vehicles, Performance West Group worked with GEM to develop several custom electric cars that showed that these vehicles could be just as exciting visually as their high octane counterparts. The Voila! Kart is a perfect example of how a pedestrian electric vehicle could be turned into an exciting show stopper. Inspired by the 1958 and 1959 Grand National Roadster Show award winning Ala Kart that was built by none other than George Barris, the Voila! Kart is an excellent example of how the team at Performance West Group applied out of the box thinking to make an ordinary vehicle into an extraordinary one.
The year 2004 saw the company expanding to develop multi-car programs that featured both a new and matching companion vintage vehicle. Working with the Ford Image Team, Performance West Group prepared a new 2005 Mustang GT Fastback and the car that inspired it, a 1967 Mustang GT Fastback, both of which debuted at the SEMA SHOW. These two matching pony cars toured nationally and were the subject of numerous magazine covers. The same year, working with General Motors and RKSport, PWG teamed up to debut a new Pontiac GTO and matching 1965 GTO. Again, both cars debuted at the SEMA SHOW, toured extensively, and were subsequently chosen for a Toyo Tires national advertising campaign.
As if all that wasn’t enough for one SEMA SHOW, Performance West Group also partnered with the Chrysler Image Team and Hurst Performance to create the new 2005 Chrysler 300C Hurst Edition, a vehicle that was built as a salute to the original 1970 Hurst Chrysler 300H. The Chrysler 300C Hurst Edition debuted in the Mopar exhibit at the 2004 SEMA SHOW and toured nationally with Chrysler, where it was displayed at major events like the Los Angeles Automobile Show and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Interestingly, the 2005 Hurst Chrysler 300 was instrumental in charting the course that led to the creation of GSS SUPERCARS, and to build the unique limited edition series of Hurst GSS vehicles that are being produced today.
Hot on the heels of the retro inspired 2005 Mustang, Chrysler unveiled the new Challenger concept at the 2006 Detroit Automobile Show and by 2008, this modern interpretation of the 1970’s classic was a production reality. Working with Mr. Norm, Performance West Group debuted two new custom Challengers at the 2008 SEMA SHOW, the Mr. Norm’s GSS Super Challenger and GSS Super Cuda. Powered by Kenne Bell supercharged Hemi’s these Challengers were the opening salvo in what has become a comprehensive line of Mr. Norm’s GSS Challengers, Chargers and Ram trucks.
In 2015, Mr. Norm’s and Performance West Group began working with Hurst to offer a series of limited edition vehicles like the Hurst Hellcat, SuperCat, Patriot and Heritage GSS Challengers. This quickly expanded to include Hurst GSS Chargers and Ram trucks, the Hurst RPO Series Camaro, and at the 2016 SEMA SHOW, the team debuted the new 2017 Hurst Kenne Bell R-CODE Mustang in the Hurst exhibit. With the program having expanded to include performance vehicles by each of the “Big Three,” the time had come for a new more encompassing name, and GSS SUPERCARS was born.
With the resurgence of performance and vehicle personalization hitting an all- time high, GSS SUPERCARS has several new Mr. Norm’s and Hurst vehicles on the drawing board, so be sure to look for new models to debut at a major show this year. Who knows, maybe one of them will make their way to your garage!
Larry Weiner, has been creating award winning show cars and race cars for over 40 years both as an enthusiast, and an industry professional.
Photo credit Ken Latka