Only a limited number of Corvettes get to grace the pages of VETTE as feature cars. We look for the best of the best, the most striking examples of Corvette excellence that we can find. It can be a tough job. We're dealing with what is, even in its most mundane form, a pretty cool car. Sometimes, though, we don't have to look. Sometimes we're just in the right place at the right time, and there'll be a Vette that calls out, "Hey, look at me! I'm what you're looking for." In the case of this '91 Callaway Speedster, that call was more of a swift kick in the rear followed by a "How do you like me now?"
As it turns out, the staff of VETTE likes this particular Speedster quite a bit. This very machine was our Jan. '93 cover car, and while we don't usually-if ever-feature a car twice, we just couldn't help ourselves. Nearly ten years after it was built and eight after our original feature, the Callaway Speedster is still like nothing else, managing to be at once elegant and aggressive, a club-wielding brute wrapped in the most exclusive designer clothes and groomed to perfection. Each Corvette generation has its standouts, and Callaway's topless creation certainly ranks as a C4 legend.
Reeves Callaway first applied his brand of mechanical magic to America's Sports Car in 1987. All you had to do to own what was perhaps the world's ultimate production automobile was mark RPO B2K on the order form at selected Chevrolet dealers, write a big, fat check, and then wait. The Corvette you had just ordered was shipped to Callaway's facility in Connecticut, where the stock engine was pulled. To describe it briefly, a new powerplant was created starting with a four-bolt main block and forged crank. Each block was line-bored, honed, blueprinted, and balanced. Forged pistons rode on LT-1 rods, and a higher-output oil pump was installed. The stock TPI setup was utilized, but was fitted with gorilla-sized lungs in the form of twin turbochargers and intercoolers. Byproducts exited through handmade headers and a modified exhaust system.
The Callaway Twin Turbo established its credentials as an ultra-high-performance vehicle immediately and impressively. The first version pumped out 345hp and a stump-pulling 465-lb-ft of torque, good for a 13.2 quarter and top speeds in the neighborhood of 175 mph, all while being eminently streetable. Callaway improved his creation consistently during its production run, seeing 365 and then 385 hp, with torque gains to match. But...
Impressive as its performance was, the Callaway Twin Turbo looked like...a Corvette. Given that this option nearly doubled the price of a base Corvette (in 1991, the cost actually exceeded the price of a base Corvette), many thought that the Callaway Vette lacked high-profile looks to go with its stellar performance. Besides aftermarket wheels, Callaway badging, and hood ducts on the early cars, they essentially looked like any other Corvette-not a bad thing, to be sure, except for those not interested in a $50,000 "sleeper."
Callaway's answer came in 1989, when stylist Paul Deutschman designed the bodywork for the Corvette-based, 254-mph Callaway Sledgehammer. Deutschman's work became the basis for the Aerobody, available as an option on '89 Callaways and as a kit for all C4s. The new panels, with their multiple hood scoops and finned vent openings, among other features, set Callaway's creation apart from the crowd and gave it a huge injection of sex appeal.