Callaway Cars Inc have been engineering high-performance vehicles since 1977. Founded by Reeves Callaway, this company has revolutionized everything from forced air induction systems to racing components. In 1988 Callaway introduced the C4 Corvette project “Sledgehammer”. The Sledgehammer rocked the street-legal performance world when it set the high-speed record. Compared to modern supercars, the Sledgehammer is still a force to be reckoned with. This is a 1 of 1 car that is now privately owned.
Callaway commissioned Deutschman Design to help make the car more aerodynamic. Designer Paul Deutschman helped develop Callaway AeroBody which makes the car more stable at high speeds. Callaway AeroBody technology also became a signature feature for other vehicles the company has engineered.
The Callaway Sledgehammer was built for the purpose of testing the concept of a reliable high-performance twin-turbo V8 for the streets. After the car was completed it drove 700 miles from Connecticut to the TRC testing facility in Ohio. The Sledgehammer then set the top-speed record with a blistering 254.76 mph. The legendary John Lingenfelter was driving the car when the record was set on October 26, 1988.
The Sledgehammer makes an impressive 898 horsepower and 778 feet pounds of torque. The Chevy 350ci engine features a Nascar-spec block, forged internals, and Brodix heads. The solid platform is complemented by a twin-turbo system producing 22lbs of boost. A manual six-speed transmission is mounted up to this powerplant.
Prior to testing, Reeves Callaway had concerns about the factory Goodyear tires not being able to hold up to the anticipated speeds. Callaway reached out to Goodyear and requested a custom set of tires that would perform and resemble the original set. Goodyear did come through on the request and the special tires were used on the test track. After the test was completed Goodyear took the custom tires back because they were said to cost a mind-blowing $1,000,000 to make.
Despite the car having a roll cage, it has all the modern comforts that would be in a 1988 Corvette. Reeves Callaway insisted that the power windows, air conditioning, radio, and full interior remain in the car.
The C4 Corvette and generations prior did not have the four centered exhaust tips like the Sledgehammer. This styling cue was not seen in standard production Corvettes until the C5 Corvette was introduced in 1997.
The Callaway Sledgehammer held the closed course speed record for 25 years.