Celebrating 25 Years of Callaway Corvettes

Renaissance Man

Walt Thurn Jan 1, 2013 0 Comment(s)
Vemp 1301 01 Celebrating 25 Years Of Callaway Corvettes Reeves Callaway 1/18

Reeves Callaway (right) stands with automotive designer Paul Deutschman (center) and Callaway Cars Managing Director Mike Zoner in front of the company's Old Lyme, Connecticut, headquarters.

Reeves Callaway is a man of many talents—educated, articulate, and a lover of art, travel, fine foods, computers, and, of course, automobiles. Twenty-five years ago his company, Callaway Cars, became the first firm to be authorized by GM to modify new production Corvettes. These cars carried RPO B2K option and could be ordered at Chevrolet dealerships. After the cars were built in Bowling Green, they were shipped to Callaway's Old Lyme, Connecticut, headquarters for conversion. A total of 184 (121 coupes and 63 convertibles) were built for the 1987 model year. The modified, twin-turbo L98 produced 345 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, enough to push top speed to 177.9 mph. (The output figures later climbed to 382/562.) The B2K option continued through 1991 and generated reams of favorable press for Callaway Cars.

Early in the B2K run, Callaway and his team decided to create a rolling test bed to probe the maximum speed potential of the Corvette platform. In 1987 they participated in Car and Driver magazine's "Gathering of Eagles" speed test, taking top honors with a terminal velocity of 231 mph in a twin-turbo C4. Determined to stay ahead of the competition, the Callaway crew created "Sledgehammer," a fully streetable supercar featuring a stock interior with A/C. Automotive designer Paul Deutschman penned a new body for the C4 to reduce its aerodynamic drag.

Vemp 1301 02 Celebrating 25 Years Of Callaway Corvettes 1987 Chevy Corvette Twin 2/18

In early October 1988, the 898hp twin-turbo Corvette was driven from Old Lyme to the Ohio Research Transportation Center in East Liberty, Ohio. On October 19 Sledgehammer set a top-speed record for a streetable production car when the late John Lingenfelter pushed it to an amazing 254.76 mph. After setting the mark, the Callaway team drove Sledgehammer back to Old Lyme. It was an amazing feat for a small engineering company.

In 1988 Reeves Callaway attended the 1988 Geneva Auto show, where his friend Dick Guldstrand introduced him to Ernst Woehr. Woehr and his partner, Giovanni Ciccone, owned a tuning and body-shop business in Leingarten, Germany, where they serviced Guldstrand's GS80 C4 Corvettes for European customers. Callaway and Woehr became friends, and Woehr's shop soon began servicing Callaway twin-turbo Vettes.

When the L98 production run ended in 1992, Callaway introduced a new Corvette, the LT1-based SuperNatural. In 1993 Woehr signed a young driver named Boris Said to drive one of these cars in the German ADAC GT series. With his rock-star hair and aggressive driving style, Said soon gained cult status with German racing fans. The SuperNatural took many top finishes and created a lot of buzz for Callaway.

Vemp 1301 03 Celebrating 25 Years Of Callaway Corvettes Chevy Corvette Sledgehammer 3/18

In 1994 Callaway and Woehr formed Callaway Competition and set about developing the Callaway LM. This GT supercar was based on the C4 and featured a modified nose and carbon-fiber body. The LM finished Ninth overall at the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans and Second in the GT class. In 1996 an LM driven by Almo Coppelli won the SCCA World Challenge Championship. Carlisle Events' Lance Miller currently owns the Coppelli car and plans to vintage race it.

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