2009 Callaway Chevrolet Corvette / 2009 Callaway C16
Powerfully engineered automobiles have been the mantra of Callaway cars for over a generation, and our tests of their twin-turbo and supernatural Chevrolet Corvettes over the years leave no doubt of their expertise. So we thought it was high time to see what's new from our old friends from old Lyme, Connecticut, and this time it turned out to be twice as sweet!
It all started with a request from Callaway Cars for archival footage from our 1995 test of their Corvette LM. After we replied "SURE!" we naturally asked; "What are you up to now?" That conversation quickly resulted in the delivery of these two robust machines: the 2009 Callaway Corvette and Callaway C16.
The Callaway Corvette is a turnkey upgrade of the standard sixth generation Corvette coupe or convertible.
The basic Callaway package, if you can call it that, costs around $67,500. That's $18,900 over the Corvette's base sticker, and that includes a high-flow air intake system feeding a supercharged 6.2 liter LS3 V8, further enhanced with high-flow fuel injectors, an air to liquid intercooler and proprietary fuel system controllers. The result is an impressive 580 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque.
The engine is dressed up with body-colored injector covers and housed under a moderately bulging custom-formed 2-tone hood. Callaway's signature "Double D" stainless steel exhaust system adds a subtle rumble without unwelcome cockpit resonance.
The result is performance that betters a Z06 Vette and keeps six grand in your pocket! After a tricky launch at almost idle, and with tires fighting for traction on a cold track, the Callaway rockets to 60 miles-per-hour in 3.6 seconds, and blisters the quarter-mile in 11.4 at a trap speed of 123 miles-per-hour. Torque remains nearly constant throughout the rev band with no surges or flat spots.
This is Callaway's factory demo car, so it includes every option they could throw at it, including a slick short-throw shifter that's a bargain at under 500 bucks. Much pricier options are a carbon fiber and magnesium wheel package that offers half the weight and three times the impact resistance of aluminum, a Le Mans-caliber brake upgrade with huge 380mm front and 350mm rear discs, and a performance suspension with adjustable Eibach coil-over dampers.
Most Callaway Corvette owners keep to the street, but we couldn't turn down the chance to try ours on West Virginia's Summit Point Raceway. After strapping in to the snug, high-bolstered sport seats, an option we would pass on for everyday use, we lapped for nearly two hours without any lapse in performance.
Turn one was conquered as effortlessly as turn 200, with flat, neutral turn-in, great grip and poise, and ample oomph to slingshot from corner to corner. Throttle response was instant, but required a steady foot exiting corners to keep the back end in check.
Despite its race-ready track performance, the Callaway Corvette is also quite civilized in everyday driving and capable of returning a solid 26 miles-per-gallon on the highway. But the low-key supercharger whine is a constant reminder of the beast within.
Now, if you desire, and can afford, more the Callaway C16 could be your ticket. Also starting with a Corvette C6 chassis, the C16 is substantially re-engineered and re-skinned with nearly every exterior panel replaced by Callaway's own Paul Deutschman designed aero body.
Chevy's 6.2 liter V8 again provides the C16's motivation, here upgraded with an even beefier Magnacharger to pump out 650 horsepower in the coupe and cabrio bodystyles, or a whopping 700 in the ultra-exclusive C16 Speedster.
Standard equipment here simply means every available feature is included. The customer just chooses their colors and sport or comfort seating.
Pricing for the C16 Coupe begins at $173,000. The Cabrio will set you back at least $179,000 and the open-air Speedster retails for a breathtaking $305,000. Not cheap, but not out of line with other exotics offering less performance potential.
This C16 was an owner's car and we, as well as Callaway, were reluctant to subject it to all of our normal tests. But, Callaway says the C16 is capable of a 0-60 of 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 206 miles-per-hour, and there is little doubt in our minds that this supercar can do it.
The Callaway Corvette and the C16 represent very different levels of performance and price, but with the same pedigree. Both cars transcend their Corvette roots, and give credence to Callaway Car's claim of being a specialty manufacturer, not merely a tuner. Matching or besting Chevy's factory Hot Rods is no small feat - and that's powerfully engineered, indeed!
- Callaway C16:
- Engine: 6.2 liter LS3 V8
- Horsepower: 580
- 0-60 MPH: 3.2 Seconds
- Callaway Corvette:
- Torque: 510 lb feet
- 0-60: 3.6 seconds
- 1/4 Mile: 11.4 seconds @ 123 MPH
- EPA: 26 mpg highway