Callaway Of the Month August '03
Welcome! The Callaway Owners Group is dedicated to the preservation of the world's most powerful Corvette.
Kevin Hoey's 1990 Callaway Corvette
This month, we feature a very special 1990
Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette
owned by Kevin Hoey.
When I approached Kevin about doing this
feature, he said absolutely - I
asked him for background information to write a piece about his Callaway
Corvette (number 1990-057) and what I got in return was a story so great, it
is like you are right there with him. Rather than edit the details, I have
gone ahead and just reprinted his tale of how this unique and special
Callaway became his.
I would also like to add, Kevin's 1990
Callaway was the Callaway Owners
Group "Choice award" winner at last years Callaway Reunion at Corvettes @
Kevin, It is always a treat to see your Callaway - Thanks for sharing!
The Story of 1990 Callaway Twin Turbo #057 of 058 – How an innocent 1990 triple black Corvette Roadster became something much more.
As told by Kevin J Hoey, Owner Number Two
In July of 1990 the soon to be original owner of this car walked into Newport Auto Center in Newport Beach, CA to purchase an exotic sports car. They sold a number of brands and he had it in mind to buy a Porsche or a Ferrari. That is until he heard about a certain upgrade to a stock Chevrolet Corvette that would make it out perform either one of them. Money was not a concern but having the ultimate performance car was. He was sold on the idea of owning the fastest production car offered to the public at that time - A Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette. These cars had just passed the strict California emissions testing requirements and were now legal for sale in California. After some discussion about the exact configuration and options that he wanted a brand new fully optioned triple black 1990 Corvette Roadster with a six speed manual transmission was pulled from the dealer’s inventory.
The new owner did not want to wait for a factory ordered car and this was about the time the Corvette factory was transitioning from 1990 to 1991 model year production. The car was loaded on a transport truck the first week of August and shipped from California to Old Lyme, CT for a little massaging by Callaway Cars. It was treated to the full complement of RPO B2K upgrades and additionally fitted with a LOF Koolof solar-coated windshield just like the ones that came in the ZR1 Corvettes introduced that same year. Only a few of the Callaway Twin Turbos got this windshield and it appears on the Callaway window sticker as a $1050 option. This creates an interesting and rather unique situation. Although a true Twin Turbo car from brand new, since it was not factory ordered as such it does not carry the RPO B2K option code as most other Callaway Twin Turbo cars would on it’s build sheet. It did come with a Callaway window sticker that specifies “RPO B2K Twin Turbo Package” and sold as a new car with all the correct documentation.
The transformation of the car was completed in early September 1990 and it was again transported cross-country back to Newport Auto Center where the new owner took delivery on September 27, 1990. He drove the car for about four months as a stock bodied car when he learned of some additional Callaway upgrades that were available. Again, money was not a concern and he wanted any and all options that were available for the car. He ordered a full Callaway Aerobody package, new for 1991 hood mounted intercooler scoops (commonly referred to as “blisters”) and an upgraded heavy duty Wonderbar package. That consists of a larger hollow frame cross member used for routing intake air to the turbos and a large air filter box fitted with a K&N filter that mounts in the right front fender well. On a 1990 car that necessitates relocating the coolant overflow tank to the left side. Other than some custom exhaust work, the car remained essentially unchanged for about the next three years. It was a daily driver and racked up almost 40,000 miles during that period.
In 1994 the original owner moved to Phoenix, AR taking the car with him. Once there he decided it was time for more power and took the car to Arizona Speed and Marine for some engine modifications. He planned on using the car to race in the Silver State Classic Challenge, an annual all out speed run that takes place over a 90 mile stretch of closed public highway in Nevada. After consulting with Ed Capen, head mechanic at AS&M, a number of upgrades were done to the car. The engines top end was reworked with large tube runners, 52mm throttle body, ported and extrude honed plenum and intake base, ported and polished heads with larger valves, larger fuel injectors and a custom grind camshaft. Additionally the exhaust headers were ceramic coated and the turbo housings were polished and the exhaust side ceramic coated. To keep the car cool in the desert heat a Ron Davis aluminum radiator was installed. After some custom chip tuning to the stock computer the car left AS&M with over five hundred horsepower to the rear wheels and massive torque. In Ed’s words when the car left their shop, “it was a monster”. Before having an opportunity to race the car, the owner was relocated to Massachusetts in 1996.
Since Old Lyme, CT was now just over one hour away from his new home the car was taken to Callaway Cars for service from that point forward. It was commented by a now former Callaway Cars employee that it was one of the strongest running Twin Turbos to ever come back to their shop. The car returned occasionally for minor service such as tune-ups, oil changes and tires over about the next three years. Then in the spring of 1999 an unfortunate mechanical event occurred that would have ripple effects changing the course of the car forever.
While having some fun with the car on the highway the original owner had the engine blow in catastrophic fashion with a connecting rod going through the side of the block. This is not an unheard of failure with these cars and usually the result of over boost, a lean condition, or both resulting in detonation. This time the car returned to Callaway Cars on a flatbed. The engine was removed from the car and completely disassembled. Useable components such as the intake manifold, plenum, runners and heads were set aside and a new stronger bottom end was built starting with a brand new splayed four bolt main GM block. Over the years it had become apparent that the connecting rods were the weakest link in the Twin Turbo engine. The new motor was built with a forged Callies crankshaft, forged Carrillo connecting rods and a set of custom KolbenSchmidt 8.5:1 pistons that had to be shipped from Germany. These are the same pistons used on the Callaway Speedster Twin Turbo motors and this was the last set available. The entire rotating mass was balanced and the engine blue printed during assembly. Additionally, the last two brand new Rotomaster T04B turbos on the parts shelf were installed on the car along with a set of upgraded stainless steel exhaust headers. The good news is the motor received many great new parts as part of the rebuild. Unfortunately much of the custom work done by AS&M to make it so strong was lost. Probably the biggest loss was the custom grind camshaft followed by the reworked exhaust headers and turbo housings.
After about one year off the road the owner got the car back and began driving it in May of 2000. There was an intermittent drivability problem that was traced to the ECM (Engine Control Module). It was replaced and a new computer chip was burned. While being road tested in a light rain the car met with unfortunate circumstances. It spun out while merging off a highway onramp and clipped the trailer portion of a passing eighteen-wheeler with the front end causing it to spin around in the other direction hitting the rear end on the back of the trailer . When the car finally came to rest facing into oncoming traffic the front and rear bodywork, including all the Aerobody panels, had been badly damaged. The good news is no one was hurt and all the damage was cosmetic. That’s what happens when you try to accelerate on wet roads with a turbocharged torque monster.
The car was flat bedded directly to The Final Finish in Branford, CT, a body shop specializing in Corvettes and high-end restorations. Dave SeCaur, the shop owner, has done most of Callaway’s Aerobody installations, Twin Turbo Speedsters, LT5 based Super Speedsters and the LM bodied cars over the years. At least it was sitting at the right place to have a chance at being reconstructed. The car was disassembled, the damage evaluated and an estimate put together for its repair. It then sat for a couple of months while the owner contemplated his options and settled with his insurance company. The car was considered repairable based on its value.
This is about the time I came into the picture. I had known about the car for a couple of years and seen it a few times during that time period as a menacing looking triple black Aerobody Roadster that looked like it was going 100mph sitting in the parking lot. It’s the only one I’d ever seen. The original owner and I belong to the same gym. I had heard about the engine failure and then the subsequent accident. I happened to inquire one night as to the status of the car. After a brief update it was followed by a comment that the car just might be for sale. This intrigued me and after further discussion about the car, a subsequent trip to Dave’s shop to evaluate the damage and agreeing on a price we completed the sale. I didn’t know a whole lot about Callaway Twin Turbo cars back then other than that they were very expensive when new, extremely fast and looked like nothing else on the road with the Aerobody installed.
Working with Dave and discussing my options I determined the direction that I wanted to take with the car and the rebuilding process began in the fall of 2000. I had considered for a short time returning it to a stock bodied car as that would have been considerable more cost conscious. However I quickly dismissed that idea because there is nothing else like the Callaway Aerobody on the road and it really sets the car apart from all other Corvettes. It had never occurred to me that the car could be anything other than black until one day Dave asked me what color we were going to paint it. Since the entire body was off the car it could be any color I wanted. After giving it a great deal of thought I decided that black just didn’t show off the body lines and curves to their full advantage. I was going to go with the same pearl yellow as one of the original Speedsters but Dave advised against that because it is a three stage color and impossible to match in the event of body damage. I ultimately decided on Brilliant Silver Metallic and I’m very glad that I did. It’s a classic color that I will never get tired of and it nicely highlights every curve of the body. While the car was being completed I had the seats recovered in black leather and added a little custom touch by having “CALLAWAY” embroidered where it normally would say “CORVETTE” on the seat back.
I picked up the car from The Final Finish in June of 2001 never having driven it before or even heard the engine run! That was a large investment to make in a car that could not be driven and I was a little nervous. I was completely under whelmed by the performance and quite disappointed on the ride home. Had I made a serious mistake? Surely this could not be all there was to a Callaway Twin Turbo. After a couple of phone calls and the help of some very knowledgeable Twin Turbo owners I found out that the microfueler that powers the secondary fuel injectors had apparently come unplugged from the jolt of the accident. Once properly reconnected I discovered the true performance of this awesome car. What a huge relief it was to find out everything mechanically was as described to me. I am of course now completely addicted to the sounds of spooling turbos and the huge torque this engine produces.
One of the true high points of owning this car for me was taking it to Corvettes at Carlisle in 2002 for the big Callaway Reunion. I was honored to receive a Celebrity Choice Award from Chris representing the Callaway Owners Group. Cosmetically the car is about as perfect as I care to make it. That is to say it’s not a show car but it’s very clean. I’d be afraid to drive it otherwise. Earlier this year it received a brake upgrade with Baer rotors and stainless steel brake lines. I have plans for additional mechanical modifications this winter with a goal of again seeing well over five hundred horsepower at the rear wheels. With the new motors much stronger bottom end this should be easily attainable with a new custom grind camshaft, ignition upgrades and some good tuning.
Some people may say this car is not pristine or collectible due to its prior misfortunes and higher mileage or perhaps that it’s not even a “real” B2K car. That really doesn’t concern me as I buy cars for my own enjoyment. (As a side note- I asked Reeves Callaway himself what his view is on this and his response was that, “All Callaway Twin Turbos are B2K cars”.) The car just turned 50,000 miles last month. That would be on the chassis basically as the engine and entire body have just over 2000 miles on them. Most non-Corvette people think the car is brand new when they see it. Those that know these cars think it must surely be a very low mileage car. My philosophy is that I don’t buy cars for resale value or as museum pieces. What fun is that? I like to drive and enjoy my cars, not look at them or endlessly wax and polish them. I feel we don’t even truly own them. We are merely the curators of these fine automobiles and are fortunate enough to have the privilege of using them for a while. Hopefully when they get passed on it’s to another true car enthusiast. I also like cars that have an interesting story behind them. This one surely does!
Please click on any of the images for a full size version.
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