What’s the Fastest Street Vette Ever? The 1988 254.76-MPH Callaway SLEDGEHAMMER!!!

Dateline: 8.23.11
Not only was this twin-turbo L98 Corvette packing 898-HP, it was DRIVEN to and from the track!

Yesterday we told you about the rather lackluster turbocharged L-48 ‘79 Corvette. No one was going to get warm over a 280-to-290-horsepower turbo Corvette. But nearly 900-horsepower? NOW YER TALKING! I covered the car back in June 2008 as Illustrated Corvette Series No. 136 for my monthly VETTE Magazine column. The story copy from the article is below.

What’s amazing, besides the raw speed and power of the car, is that Callaway never built another one, at least, one that we know of. If they did, the owner kept it a secret because I’ve never seen or heard of another Sledgehammer. If you’re reading this and know of one, please let me know. What a difference nine years made between the ‘79 turbocharged L-48 that the Chevrolet engineering department built and what Callaway made. But to be totally fair, Corvette engineers aren’t in the business of developing mega-horsepower Vette engines, and Callaway isn’t in the business of designing mass production cars. . So, we’ll give the Corvette guys a pass and kudos to Callaway! And to think, this wasn’t a trailered speed machine. Callaway’s team drive it to the track, set the record, and drove it home! AMAZING! here’s the story.  – Scott

While the 200-mph ‘09 ZR1 is receiving well-deserved kudos, nearly 20 years ago Reeves Callaway and his team smashed the record books with a street-driven twin-turbo ’88 Corvette called “The Sledgehammer.”
The Sledgehammer was a radical version of an ’88 production Vette. This was no one-of-a-kind exotic like the Ultimate Aero, built by Shelby Supercars. The Ultimate Aero’s record-setting average speed was 256.18 mph – not much more than the 254.76-mph production-based Sledgehammer.

Plans for the Sledgehammer began after a modified Callaway Twin-Turbo won the Car & Driver “Gathering of the Eagles” top-speed event in 1987. Reeves Callaway drove the car to a top-speed of 231-mph. The car was fast, but it was rough, hot, smelly, and difficult to drive.  Corvette Chief Engineer Dave McClellan joked about Reeves 231-mph car saying, “Des Is Der Sledgehammer!” The name stuck and Reeves got busy! Continue reading “What’s the Fastest Street Vette Ever? The 1988 254.76-MPH Callaway SLEDGEHAMMER!!!”

Tom Falconer & James Mann C4 Corvette Book Review

Tom Falconer's Collector's Originality Cuide for Corvette C4

“Collector’s Originality Guide: Corvette C4 1984 – 1996” by Tom Falconer & Photography by James Mann

The introduction of the C4 Corvette in the Fall of ‘83 was a much anticipated automotive event. Times were tough through the ‘70s and no one anticipated in ‘68 that the new Mako Shark-inspired car would have a 15-model-year production run. And when you consider that the car was riding on a chassis designed in ‘60-’61 for the C2 Sting Ray, it’s all the more amazing that the late C3 cars set all-time sales records.

Just like all Corvettes from the beginning, the C4 was a car that was in constant evolution. Every year, Corvette Chief Engineer, Dave McLellan and his devoted crew of engineers and stylists made small improvements, with an occasional big leap forward. Little did we know when the C4 was first shown at the end of ‘83 that this Corvette generation would last almost as long as the C3 generation – 13 model years. Continue reading “Tom Falconer & James Mann C4 Corvette Book Review”