Reeves Callaway created a monster in 1973 and the automotive world has never been quite the same again. Corvette enthusiasts place his name among the greatest in the world in regards to pushing the envelope and creating incredible automobiles. Enter: The Sledgehammer Corvette – a Corvette built specifically to exceed all top-speed records while showcasing Callaway's turbo technology.
So here’s the backstory on this fine specimen: in the 1980s, Chevrolet had caught a glimpse of the magic Callaway was performing with the twin-turbocharged Alfa Romeo V-6 engine and decided a similar program for the Corvette would be the way to go. The end result was the production of the legendary Callaway Twin Turbo Corvettes, at which time the Callaway Corvette became a Regular Production Option (RPO B2K). This would be the only time in Chevy history that a specialist manufacturer was entrusted with a technically-advanced high-performance RPO, of which over 500 were manufactured between the years of 1987 and 1991.
On October 26, 1988, driven by John Lingenfelter, Project Sledgehammer was recorded at an official speed of 254.76mph at Ohio’s Transportation Research Center. It had been driven to the facility in Ohio on public roads before returning to Connecticut, accomplishing the amazing feat safely and taking the title of fastest street-drivable car in the world (and holding onto that title for 25 years).
The Corvette is rated at 898 horsepower and 772 lb-ft of torque and was hand-built by Callaway Cars utilizing a 4-bolt main NASCAR-spec GM “Bow Tie” engine block, Mahle pistons, forged connecting rods, Brodix aluminum heads, and a special cam to enable subtle driving one moment (it’s equipped with air-conditioning and sound system) and beastly power the next. Due to the small amount of space that engineers were working with, extensive research was required to fit the engine and its twin Turbonetics TO4B turbochargers, intercoolers, and necessary accessories.
The Aerobody itself, designed by Paul Deutschman, features a mostly stock interior with an added fire safety system, leather-wrapped roll bar, 5-spoint harness, and monitoring equipment. Meanwhile, the Sledgehammer’s suspension was tuned for high-speed stability by one Carroll Smith, who relocated the lower-control arms, lowering the car by an inch. A cocktail of Koni shock absorbers and 17-inch Dymag aluminum wheels wrapped in Goodyear tires was developed for ultimate performance during the high-speed run.
In 2013, the Sledgehammer became recognized as one of the “50 people and 50 Corvettes that significantly influenced the Corvette Phenomenon” by being inducted into the Bloomington Gold Great Hall.
The Sledgehammer is due to cross the block at Mecum with an entire collection of Callaway vehicles at the Mecum Kissimmee auction during the week of January 17th to 26th. For more information, visit www.mecum.com.