By Steve Laser
Way back in the mid-1970s, I met an auto enthusiast named Len Frank at a car club meeting in Torrance, Calif. What drew us together was a mutual interest in Chevrolets. About that time, race-car driver Reeves Callaway founded a business on the other side of the country called Callaway Cars. Len went on to become a famous auto journalist while Reeves nurtured his fledgling company to superstar status as a specialty manufacturer.
I reconnected with Len in the early 1990s when I was covering a story for a corporate auto magazine. He encouraged me to join an organization called the “Motor Press Guild” of Los Angeles. With Len as one of my sponsors, I was overjoyed to become a member of the group. Len introduced me to some of his friends, and I eventually wound up writing for several car magazines, realizing my own lifelong dream.
Len sadly passed away in 1996. Today, I think of him whenever I attend a Motor Press Guild event. While standing in a crowd of fellow journalists last week listening to Reeves Callaway talk about the 40th anniversary of his company, I had a flashback to the time when I bought a 1979 Camaro Z28 – my first new car. Len politely congratulated me on the purchase, yet wondered why I wanted a Z28 rated at only 170 horsepower. I told him, “I wanted to get one before Chevrolet discontinued it.” Muscle cars were supposedly on the list of endangered species.
Some folks are incredibly lucky to realize their full potential in life. During the introduction of his company’s latest model, the 2016 Callaway Camaro SC610, Reeves (above) told us the story about his struggles running a home-based business in Old Lyme, Conn., in the 1970s, where a small team built aftermarket turbocharger systems for BMWs.
“Eventually when you’re running a home-based business, you run out of space,” he said. “I remember clearly five or ten guys coming to work every day and needing to put an addition onto the garage. The last shake of the last roof was put on the garage in Old Lyme when Peter Callaway was born. I was wrestling with going to the hospital or finishing the roof.”
Mike Zoner (above), Managing Director of Callaway Cars, and co-founder of the company, spoke about the state of the company today. “The two operating entities in Old Lyme and Santa Ana service around 30 Chevrolet dealers around the country who sell and distribute the products that we create on General Motors platforms,” he said.
“Other companies that have grown under the Callaway umbrellas are Callaway Carbon, Callaway Engineering, and Callaway Competition,” he continued. “What we’re really excited about on the Callaway Competition front is the fact that General Motors has authorized us to be the constructor of record for the FIA GT3 version of the C7 Corvette. We’re very honored to be given that responsibility.”
Peter Callaway (above) is General Manager of Callaway Cars West. “It’s an honor to host you guys,” he said. “Even though the company is rounding its 40th I haven’t quite made it there yet. The 2016 Camaro is a great improvement on an iconic platform. We’re really excited to be able to debut a much more powerful version of it utilizing our current supercharger technology which you can see protruding through the hood.”
“Since the release of the Corvette Stingray with the direct-injected platform we have a chance to take a clean look at supercharging the small block Chevrolet engine,” Peter said. “In doing so we realized that the only problem with forced induction is managing the temperature that inherently comes along with that rise in intake manifold pressure.”
“Having the superchargers extend through the hood and be in the airflow is essentially a fourth method of transfer to keep the supercharger housing cool itself as well as extracting underhood heat,” he added. “There’s many benefits and a unique looking package at the same time.”
“So with 455 horsepower stock, the Callaway version is rated at 610 horsepower and 600 foot-pounds torque,” Peter said. “And that’s running fairly low manifold pressure. So it’s amazing we can make that much additional power with about less than 7 psi boost.”
Watch the full press conference in our video above and see the 2016 Callaway Camaro SC610 revealed to the media.
“You can drive this car away from the showroom fully backed by Chevrolet and Callaway warranties, as a new vehicle,” he said. “Thanks to our now 28 year history working with General Motors we’re able to offer a very comprehensive package in terms of performance, drivability, reliability, and customers have peace of mind it’s a real program with support.”
The Callaway team gathers around the Camaro for another photo opportunity as we take a closer look at the car in this video.
A journalist asked a question about the warranty. Peter replied, “The base vehicle warranty is still intact unaffected, it’s piggybacked by Callaway’s warranty and we work with Callaway authorized dealerships around the country to support that program. The Callaway warranty is a three-year/36,000 mile [limited warranty] that’s also extendable to match the factory period of five-year/60,000 mile [limited powertrain warranty].”
“This is essentially an early look at the product,” he added. “We’re nearing the issues of validation for the final power number so 610 [hp] has a small asterisk next to it. It certainly won’t be any less than that. As we continue the final SAE power validation that may shift. The cost of the Callaway package on top of the car is $16,995 above and beyond whichever car you start with. We calculated the 1SS Camaro with Callaway Package at $54,000. Performance numbers shortly to follow as well. This is a powertrain-focused package, and we’ll have more news on more components later.”
What about emissions? Callaway’s press release says, “Camaro SC610 engine management calibration provides excellent road car drivability with emission compliance in all 50 states.” That’s good news for those of us in the Golden State.
We made this additional walkaround video of the 2016 Callaway Camaro SC610 because…we couldn’t stop looking at it.
What does Reeves think of his company’s latest effort? “I drove this car for the first time a few days ago,” he said. “And having the past car in my DNA, I was able to, within the first two or three hundred yards, be able to easily say this is really a good step in the right direction. The car is much lighter, the structure is much better, everything works. The thing is enormously capable and applying a lot more power to it makes it just a joy to drive.”
In addition to the Camaro reveal, Callaway West allowed us to tour their facility including the workshop.
For the Camaro, Callaway’s product information says that its “patented GenThree supercharger system’s 2300cc Eaton TVS rotor pack is configured to force air upward into the supercharger housing. Power-robbing heat, inherently produced by supercharging, is removed from the charge air via corrective cooling, as it flows through the supercharger housing. This effect is amplified by extending the housing through the hood, exposing it to ambient temperature. Conductive heat transfer is also utilized as the TripleCooled™ intercooler system includes one main and two additional intercooler elements, conducting heat from the charge air. The result is consistent power – lap-after-lap at the track, or run-after-run at the dragstrip.”
Recognize this beauty? It’s the 1997 Callaway C7R. The sign says that the C7 was “the first complete, bespoke Callaway automobile. The sports car was equipped with a carbon chassis, front mid-engine/rear transaxle design, 650 horsepower SuperNatural engine, and ultra-high performance ground effects. Two examples are said to exist. It also says the C7 is “unrelated to the Corvette automobile.”
Callaway Competition cars from the C6 series include professionally constructed competition prepared versions like this one. The Callaway Z06.R GT3 is built to the FIA and ADAC specifications for race teams worldwide. The Callaway GS.R is a track-only racer for NASA, NARRA, and motorsport “country club” use. It has a 550 hp 6.2L engine with sequential paddle shift, billet hub carriers, center locks, magnesium racing wheels, roll cage, and racing seats. While the Callaway Z06.RR is a road/race track-day car.
I nearly jumped out of my socks when Callaway allowed us to wander through the immaculate shop where it assembles new cars for customers. This duo of 2016 Corvettes in various stages of engine and chassis builds was flanked by a Cadillac Escalade and CTS awaiting their own Callaway upgrades.
For the new C7 Corvette, Callaway currently offers the SC627 Callaway Corvette Stingray with 627 hp and 610 lb.-ft, and the SC757 Callaway Corvette Z06 with a massive 757 hp and 777 lb.-ft. Both are GenThree Supercharger equipped.
This gorgeous Callaway C16 was Cabrio No. 001, with Tangelo Orange Pearl paint and Carbon Black leather/Alcantara sport seats embroidered with silver stitching. Under the hood is a supercharged, intercooled 6.2L engine with 616 hp and 585 lb.-ft. The Callaway C16 was Callaway’s 16th major automotive project. It was a limited production, bespoke car that was built to order.
As a testament to its durability, Callaway West has this cherry 2010 Callaway Corvette SC606 on display. As its name implies, it’s rated at 606 hp along with 553 lb.-ft. torque. How far has it gone? How does 221,000 miles sound? Powerfully Engineered Automobiles™ indeed.
Trucks are big business and Callaway obliges by offering performance fans a variety of choices. This tall-riding GMC Sierra SC480 kicks out 480 hp and 477 lb.-ft. from its 5.3L engine. The GMC and its Chevrolet Silverado cousin can also be had in 6.0L SC490 and 6.2L SC560 versions.
CarNichiWa.com thanks Callaway Cars West and the Motor Press Guild.
Features, specifications, models, and prices are subject to change by the specialty manufacturer. Contact Callaway Cars for complete information including limited warranty programs.
Story, photos and videos © 2016 CarNichiWa.com