History of Project SledgeHammer

Today on our blog we are looking at a video of the history of the Callaway Corvette SledgeHammer that Callaway Cars put up on the Facebook page. This street-legal Corvette remained the world’s fastest car for 25 years making it the longest speed record holder. We are also looking back to 2013 when Reeves Callaway and the Callaway SledgeHammer were inducted into the Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame.

1988 Chevrolet Corvette © General Motors
1988 Chevrolet Corvette © General Motors

The Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette was built on a 1988 Chevrolet Corvette by Reeves Callaway to exceed all existing top speed records and as a showcase for Callaway’s industry-leading engineering expertise. 

For years the Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette owned the World Record as the fastest street-driven car in the world. It set the record on October 26, 1988, when John Lingenfelter drove it to an incredible 254.76 MPH at the Transportation Research Center (TRC) in Ohio.

The Transportation Research Center (TRC) is North America’s largest multi-user automotive proving ground. It is operated by TRC In. and occupies 4,500 acres in East Liberty, Ohio. This is just 40 miles northwest of Columbus, Ohio. It is an enormous facility with a 7.5-mile oval track.

The 1988 Corvette Callaway Sledgehammer sold at Mecum Auction in Kissimmee in 2014 for $600,000.

Here are some notes on the 1988 Callaway Corvette Sledgehammer

  • Hand-built engine by Callaway using a 4-bolt main bowtie block rating up to 898 HP and 772 ft/lbs of torque
  • Suspension was tuned by Carroll Smith
  • Mostly stock interior with added fire safety system, leather-wrapped roll bar with a 5-point harness and monitoring equipment
  • This Paul Deutsman Design using the Callaway Aero body has successfully campaigned with low-speed driveability and working options including air conditioning and radio
  • This street-legal Corvette remained the world’s fastest car for 25 years making it the longest speed record holder

Reeves Callaway and the Callaway Corvette SledgeHammer were inducted into the Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame in 2013.

Reeves Callaway and the  Callaway Corvette Sledgehammer were inducted into the Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame in 2013
Reeves Callaway and the Callaway Corvette Sledgehammer were inducted into the Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame in 2013

Chevrolet was looking forward to obtaining a higher-performance Corvette. Reeves Callaway and Callaway Engineering were completing a twin-turbo program for Alfa Romeo. Callaway had a reputation for engineering excellence, so consequently, Corvette Chief Engineer Dave McLellan invited Reeves Callaway to participate in a limited production venture.

The official agreement with Chevrolet was to build 500 Callaway Corvettes from 1987 to 1991, although there were actually 510 built. The Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette became known as Chevrolet option RPO B2K and was available through select Chevrolet dealers.

The European press drove a Callaway which later appeared on a German magazine cover. The Callaway was titled “Das Ist Der Hammer” meaning “The Hammer.” Callaway wondered what to call a really powerful one-off version and decided to call it the Sledgehammer. During a private test run by John Lingenfelter, the Sledgehammer reached 254.76 mph.

The Callaway Twin Turbo was a unique engineering and packaging accomplishment. The B2K option was an additional $25,895 and 125 were sold on the 1988 model. The 1988 Callaway power levels increased, and horsepower was now rated at 382 and torque rose to 565 lb-ft. The engines were reworked by Callaway at Old Lyme, Connecticut. The powertrain warranty was covered by Callaway for 12 months of 12,000 while the rest of the Corvette’s warranty was covered by Chevrolet.

Reeves Callaway was also inducted into the National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame in 2008 in the Enthusiasts Category.

Text courtesy of the NCM

Reeves Callaway started Callaway Cars, the company which evolved into a respected specialist manufacturer, in 1977. When the company began, Reeves’ mission was not to enhance Corvette’s performance. It was to put food on the table for a young family in the only way he knew how… build something beautiful and powerful that would appeal to the owners of fine automotive machinery. Reeves had a passion for making engines powerful. But as things happen, especially to men with a vision, the stars aligned one day in 1986 and his company became allied with the iconic American car, the Corvette.

Reeves’ engineering achievements in the Corvette performance arena began with the factory RPO B2K Twin Turbo Corvettes (1987-1991).

Achievements continued with the development of the world-record-holding 254mph “Sledgehammer”, C4 Aerobody package, LT-1, and LT-5 SuperNatural™ Corvettes, C12 Callaway Supercars, C5/C6 power group packages, and the current C6 Supercharged Corvettes/C16 Supercars.

Reeves has made his mark on the history of Corvette and has provided a unique niche for Corvette fans who crave his “Powerfully Engineered Automobiles.”

Powerfully Engineered Automobiles – Callaway Cars Inc. produces specialty vehicles, engineering services, and performance products for driving enthusiasts. Check out their website for more information https://www.callawaycars.com/


Here are some other articles you might enjoy:

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Bloomington Gold 2013 Great Hall

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