All killer, no filler.
Callaway Cars is a specialty vehicle manufacturer focusing on performance packages for GM vehicles, most famously the Corvette. Typically, Callaway installs its components and packages, and the cars are sold through GM dealers, complete with warranties and branded as Callaway. However, Callaway Cars didn't start out specializing in GM cars.
The story started in 1973 when Reeves Callaway began working as a driving instructor at Bob Bondurant's racing school. The school started teaching with the E21 generation BMW 320i and Callaway realized the car had more potential. He developed a prototype turbocharger system for the 320i and, following publicity from Car and Driver, started producing a kit for the BMW community.
Callaway built the business up from scratch and formed Callaway Cars in 1977, building turbocharger kits for the leading German brands. His success led to Alfa Romeo commissioning the company to build a souped-up version of its 2.5-liter GTV-6 coupe, which then gained attention from GM's Chief Engineer for the Corvette, Dave McLellan. That led to the Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette, sold through select GM dealers as a Regular Production Option (RPO), and the legendary Callaway Sledgehammer car.
The Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette arrived in 1987, effectively as a precursor to the Corvette ZR-1. It landed with 345 horsepower, 465 lb-ft of torque, and a top speed of 178 mph. That put the Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette in the same performance category as Ferrari and Lamborghini's supercars of the time but for half the cost.
In 1988, Callaway increased the horsepower to 382 hp, and that was the year the Callaway Sledgehammer took the World Street Legal speed record, clocking an incredible 254.76 mph. Callaway partnered with Paul Deutschman to reduce drag with a new bodyshell for the record, and from that came the AeroBody option. The Sledgehammer Corvette also had a fully-built engine making 898 horsepower and 772 lb-ft of torque.
Chevrolet launched the ZR-1 Corvette in 1990, and Callaway countered by bringing its version to 403 hp (up from 380 hp) and 582 lb-ft of torque (up from 370 lb-ft) for its final year in 1991.
In 2007, Callaway Cars dropped a gorgeous bespoke speedster that was as fast as it looked. It's based on a C6 generation Corvette, but the only body parts left from the original car are the roof panel, side mirrors, and the rear hatch. It could be ordered as a coupe or cabriolet, but the speedster version is the correct version.
Not only did Callaway go to town on the 6.2-liter LS3 V8 under the hood using an Eaton supercharger to deliver 650 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque, but it also gave the C16 its in-house designed coilover suspension system and a Le Mans brake system. The six-speed manual transmission uses Callaway's short throw shifter, and it rides on staggered Callaway OZ wheels.
In 2001, a Callaway C12.R took pole position in its GT2 Class at Le Mans, beating out both Porsche and Ferrari. Callaway only produced 25 units of the road-going version, and they are something special. The C12 was based on 1997-2004 Corvette donor vehicles but used a wider body designed by Paul Deutschman to cover the extra width Callaway added to the chassis.
It was powered by Callaway's 440-hp SuperNatural version of the LS-series engines and featured a Callaway engineered coilover suspension with tuned, adjustable dampers. The C12 was built to standard and not cost, and as a result, retailed for around $200,000. Among the list of famous C12 drivers was Dale Earnhardt Jr., which is one hell of an endorsement.
Callaway takes its tuning expertise to several GM SUVs, but our favorite is the Yukon Denali. The Yukon Denali's 6.2-liter V8 makes 420 hp from the factory. However, following some engineering wizardry and the addition of Callaway's GenThree supercharging system, the SC560 delivers 560 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque.
Along with Callaway badging and embroidered floor mats, it also comes with a hood plaque with a Callaway VIN and a special key fob. From there, customers can order extra packages. The Callaway Handling Package lowers the Yukon Denali by two inches, and the Le Mans Brake Package adds six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes. Other packages include a Callaway Rough Terrain Package, wheel packages, and a sport interior package.
Holden Special Vehicles was the performance arm of Australia's GM-owned automaker, Holden. The GTS model was based on the Holden Commodore, turning the mainstream sedan into a powerhouse of the modern Australian muscle era. It was powered by a 5.7-liter LS1 V8 until, in 1999, Holden showed off the VT Series II GTS with a Callaway-built LS1 shipped from the US.
Callaway got the V8s directly from GM, replaced the cylinder heads, camshaft, valvetrain, throttle body, and engine management calibration components with its own parts. The new engine, now cranked up from around 285 hp to 402 hp, was then shipped back to GM to be sent out to HSV in Australia. Power from the new engine went through a Tremec T56 six-speed gearbox to a Hydratrak LSD to sort out the power to the rear wheels.
If you've ever dreamed of a shooting brake version of a Corvette, Callaway has a beautifully engineered solution for the C7 generation. It's built using carbon fiber and replaces the rear hatch of any standard production C7 Corvette. It's also an easily reversible part-for-part replacement. It consists of the hatch assembly, an upper spoiler, lower spoiler, halo bar, tempered glass, the aero badging, and the OEM paint color to match the car.
Chevrolet's Camaro ZL1 is already an absolute beast of a sports car, but with the addition of Callaway's GenThree supercharger and High Flow Intake System, as well as some other magic, it turns into a pure fire-breather. The 6.2-liter V8 pushes 750 hp to the rear wheels at 6,500 rpm, while its 739 lb-ft of torque peaking at 3,650 rpm guarantees a wild ride.
If that's a bit much, the Callaway Camaro SS and LT1 models deliver a more sedate 630 hp at 6,400 rpm and 610 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm. The word sedate is relative here, though, as the Callaway ZL1 will hit 60 mph in 3.3 seconds with the automatic transmission-equipped, while the SS and LT1 are just 0.3 seconds slower. However, over the quarter-mile, the ZL1 starts stretching its legs. It can run 11.2 seconds at 127 mph, while the SS and LT1 will clock 11.8 sec at 123 mph.