Indy pace-car Corvettes have always garnered collector status and incited plenty of production-number crunching. So, here are a few stats to file away on the '08 edition:
*500 were built-234 coupes and 266 convertibles
* 25 were built for the European market
* 21 were built for the Canadian market
* 5 were built for the Mid-East market
The last 44 built were convertibles with Black tops, as opposed to the earlier Titanium-topped 'verts (the switch was reportedly made because Chevy ran out of Titanium tops).
The above statistics come from the C6 Registry (www.c6registry.com), but these factory-supplied figures don't show the number of pace cars converted to Callaway Corvette specifications, including the 580hp supercharged LS3 engine.
That number would be three. Well, maybe four. Sort of.
That's right, future collectors, only three Callaway Corvettes were built as '08 pace-car replicas-two convertibles and one coupe-and, coincidently, all of them were channeled through the same dealership: Cauley Chevrolet in the Detroit suburb of West Bloomfield. (Callaway tells us a fourth '08 pacer was converted earlier this year, but all of the special markings were stripped off at the owner's request, leaving only three with the true pace-car appearance.)
One of the earliest dealers for the exclusive Callaway cars, Cauley also has the distinction of being one of the Connecticut-based tuner's best-selling outlets (see sidebar). How the store came to possess the only pace cars built last year by Callaway is more the result of serendipity than of careful strategy, but it may prove historical in the long run.
"We talked with [Callaway] about a car or two to build for '08, and the pace car came up as an idea," says dealer Jeff Cauley. "So, at their suggestion, we built the coupe with an automatic transmission. We also did a convertible six-speed, and it sold right away. Then another customer wanted one, so we did another pace-car convertible with a manual transmission."
All three Callaway pace cars are legitimate one-of-one examples. Along with the single automatic car, each of the convertibles is equipped with a different-color top: one Titanium, and the other Black.
"The automatic car was a little different than what the average Callaway customer specifies, but it works very well," says Cauley. "The car is very fast, and the transmission shifts quickly and firmly."
With 75 more horses than a Z06, it's no surprise to learn the Callaway-modified pace car is quick. Although Callaway Corvettes no longer carry a Chevrolet order code, they're still available through a select number of dealers (25 in the U.S. and one-Toronto-area Wilson Niblett Chevrolet-in Canada), and the build process is essentially the same as the company's original C4-based Twin Turbo models.
In a nutshell, that means the cars are shipped to Callaway's Old Lyme, Connecticut, facility for conversion and delivered to the dealership as new vehicles. They carry a warranty and 50-state emissions compliance.
The basic package these days includes a Callaway-badged, Eaton-based MagnaCharger Roots blower system. It's fed by 53-lb/hr injectors and features a polished blower case, along with an air-to-liquid charge-cooling system. The setup makes about 7 pounds of boost, bumping the 6.2-liter LS3 engine's output to the aforementioned 580 horses and 510 lb-ft of torque. The latest version of the MagnaCharger compressor features Eaton's gen-six design, which is similar to the ZR1's blower in that it uses four-lobe rotors and tighter tolerances to broaden the effective range of the supercharger. That means more power at lower and higher rpm, the areas that are typically starved of boost.
Also part of the basic, $18,900 Callaway package are fuel-rail covers, a cold-air-style intake system, Callaway's Double-D exhaust, and a "power bulge" hood (the same design as the company's C16 model), which is required to make room for the supercharger. Ancillary items include Callaway badging and a numbered dash plaque.
* A brake upgrade package with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers, and either 14-inch or 14.9-inch front rotors
* A Callaway/Eibach adjustable sus-pension package, tailored to the car's factory suspension system
* Dymag multi-spoke wheels in 19- or 20-inch sizes
* A short-throw manual shifter
* Sport seats
* Embroidered floor mats
The main upgrade on Cauley's coupe is the base Callaway engine package, which combines with the factory pace-car details to create an interesting mix of limited-production distinction. The silver-painted hood center (an option on all Callaway models) for example, matches the silver of the pace car's two-tone body side. Inside, the pace-car-specific upholstery is retained, including the Indy-logo headrest embroidery.
Our very limited time in the car revealed that it starts and drives like a factory-engineered model. The supercharger is essentially silent until wide-open throttle, when the sound it creates will send a shiver up the spine of any red-blooded enthusiast.
Callaway claims the performance upgrades enable 0-60 times of 3.7 seconds, a quarter-mile e.t. of 11.3 seconds at 123 mph, and a 200-mph top speed. We'll have to take the company's word on those figures, as the busy, pothole-laden road in front of Cauley Chevrolet didn't provide the room for independent verification. That, and we don't think the dealership was too keen on us abusing the brand-new, unsold car. (Author's note: A couple of weeks after our photo shoot in March, the Vette was sold to Dean and Rita Maxwell of Springfield, Oregon.)
Somewhere around 200 Callaway Corvettes were built in 2008, making the pace-car versions exclusive among the elite. Whether viewed as a distinctive, one-of-one modern performance car or a future collectible, this supercharged pace car coupe will attract attention for years to come.
Callaway And Cauley Chevrolet: 22 Years And Counting
Jeff Cauley was a young enthusiast in the mid-'80s, working for his father, Jack, at the family's Detroit-area dealership, Cauley Chevrolet. In 1986 he read a story in Car and Driver about a high-powered, twin-turbocharged Corvette built by a Connecticut firm named Callaway. The story heaped praise on the force-fed Vette and noted that it could be ordered through Chevrolet dealers under option code B2K. So, that's exactly what Cauley did. In fact, he entered two orders in Chevy's electronic system.
Months passed. The cars didn't arrive, but Cauley wasn't concerned. That's when Callaway called him.
"They basically said, 'Who are you, and where did your orders come from?'" Cauley says, laughing. "I didn't know anything about Callaway or the specifics of the cars. All I knew was the order code and [that] the system accepted my orders, so I expected the cars to show up at the dealership with no further questions."
It was an inauspicious beginning, but the cars eventually arrived at the store as promised. In fact, those first couple of cars led to Cauley's becoming the nation's top Callaway dealer. Approximately 17 of the C4 Callaway Twin Turbo cars were sold through the dealership, along with several examples of the C6 models, starting last year.
"With the twin-turbo cars, I believe there were only seven original, authorized dealers, and we were one of them," says Cauley. "We've maintained that relationship for more than 20 years now."
Jeff Cauley is one of those dealers who really knows his Corvette customers. He can rattle off their names, the years they bought their cars, and whether they've returned for another. Take, for example, the '90 Polo Green B2K car seen in the accompanying photos.
"It was purchased by a gentleman whose brother also bought a Callaway Corvette from us," he says. "Now, both of them have Ferraris they bought here, too." (Cauley has the area's only authorized Ferrari dealership, adjacent to the Chevy store.) "The green Callaway is a trade-in from one of the brothers, so we've got it back on our lot after nearly 20 years. It has fewer than 36,000 original miles."
At a glance, the car obviously wears the optional Aerobody exterior package and rolls on the iconic 17-inch Dymag magnesium wheels. The '90-spec twin-turbo engine's output ratings were 382 horses and a whopping 562 lb-ft of torque. Cauley's Polo Green car also has what's known as the "big" WonderBar, an improved design of the steel channel that funneled air to the turbochargers.
As we concluded our story, the green Twin Turbo remained unsold. You can contact Cauley Chevrolet at www.cauley.net or by calling (248) 855-9700 for more information on it.