Most of our assignments start out in a pretty straightforward fashion. Editor Jay calls and asks your author to go check out a car, take some photos, or maybe conduct an interview. But when the task is capturing a brand-new tuner exotic that is being built on a tight deadline, it pays to be flexible. Such was the case with the new Callaway C16 Speedster.
First, a little background. The Paul Deutschman-designed C16 debuted, in coupe form, at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in December 2006. Next came a Cabrio (convertible) version, which was unveiled at the New York International Auto Show the following April. Both cars garnered rave reviews from the automotive press and the general public. With the C16 coupe and Cabrio having been so well accepted, Reeves Callaway decided to push the design envelope even further by building a Speedster version.
Callaway Cars has a long history with Speedsters. Deutschman designed the first one in the early '90s using a C4 chassis. This version proved to be a timeless design and is still highly sought after by collectors. In early June, Callaway gave Deutschman a general idea of what he had in mind for the new car. He wanted the C16 Speedster to debut at August's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, in Monterey, California.
Deutschman set to work immediately and completed a CAD design of the new car in a few weeks. The final design approval was secured from Callaway in early July. This Speedster was a departure from previous versions, in that it did not have a windshield or side glass. It was the very essence of open-top touring.
While Deutchsman labored at his CAD station, Callaway Cars purchased a black '07 convertible and began preparing it for its Speedster conversion. The interior was removed, along with the hood, fenders, and bumpers. The LS2 engine was upgraded to Callaway's 616hp specification, complete with supercharger, cylinder heads, valvetrain, and cam. New brake and suspension packages were also installed. The dismantled C6 was then sent to Montreal, to a site near Deutschman's studios, to have its body installed and painted.
The original plan was to finalize the car on August 13th, just days before the start of the Pebble Beach event. Team VETTE was invited to Callaway headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut, to snap the very first pictures of the Speedster before it left for Monterey.
That was the plan, anyway. We flew up from Tampa and were all ready to take our photos when the phone rang. It was Mike Zoner, Callaway's managing director, with the unhappy news that the car had not been finished in time and would not be returning to Old Lyme until after Pebble Beach. Fortunately, Zoner agreed to let us view the final steps of the car's prep-aration, which were just getting underway in Montreal. The chase for the Speedster was on.
We jumped into our rental car and headed 400 miles north to Montreal, arriving at the shop at 8:30 p.m. The crew offered us dinner, which consisted of two Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a cup of coffee. The car still needed its seats, headlight covers, windscreens, inner fender panels, exhaust, rear valance, taillights, and wheels.
By 2 a.m., the Speedster was complete enough to be rolled out of the body shop and into the awaiting Callaway transporter. Zoner and Callaway Engineering Manager Scott Rawling bade farewell to the crew, and we headed south to Albany, New York, to rendezvous with the westbound car hauler.
After a brief delay at the Canadian border, we arrived at 5:30 a.m. in an Albany Sam's Club parking lot, where the cross-country transport was waiting. As the sun rose, the car was unloaded, and we snapped away as Zoner cruised around the deserted parking lot. He even gave us a ride in this new stunning Callaway creation.
Our photo session concluded, the Speedster was loaded into its transporter and shipped off to California. After a grand total of 26 hours and 1,000 miles of driving, we finally arrived back at Callaway HQ in Old Lyme. The Callaway crew flew to California to finish up the car before the show, and we headed home to document our trip.
The Speedster made it to Pebble Beach, where it was adjudged a huge success by all who saw it. Callaway has worked its Speedster magic once again, and Corvette enthusiasts everywhere are falling under the car's spell.