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Callaway Of the Month June '04

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 Sue Callaway's Callaway Speedster

1991 Callaway B2K Speedster

The End Of An Era

            The Callaway Speedster, a car whose production has been reported by every major Corvette magazine as completed… until now.

            Over the years, the headlines surrounding the run of ten RPO B2K Callaway Twin Turbo Speedsters have proclaimed “the end of the line” or the last ever B2K. However, recently I had a chance to see the completion of what is in fact, the absolute final car in the B2K series.  

             Introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show on January 4, 1991, Reeves Callaway’s rendition of the classic speedster theme was met with great enthusiasm. It was stated that the first four speedsters were sold at the show. Each of the ten “Series I” Speedsters were built upon the L98 Corvette chassis equipped with General Motors RPO B2K identifying them as Callaway Twin Turbos however, no two Speedsters were built alike. Built much in the way an architect would work with their client, Callaway would sit down and go over a host of options unique to the Speedsters and select colors from a full palette consisting of top-notch materials. Initially, Callaway Cars had planned upon building fifty of these cars. However, in 1992 with the re-introduction of the LT1 engine and the ending of the B2K option, Callaway had to change the way they did business. After the ten “Series I” Speedsters were commissioned, two additional Speedsters were built, based upon LT5 chassis and were also twin turbo and designated “Series II” Speedsters. The Speedster featured here is number 9 in the Series I and for the historians out there, it was the 58th B2K built for 1991 however, that is only a fraction of the story. Speedster number 10, the numerically last car built in the initial series is owned by Chip Miller of Carlisle Productions while the last car to roll off the assembly line in Bowling Green with the B2K option was built as Speedster number 6 and delivered new in 1994. So why so long to construct number 9? Let’s take a look at its long path to how the final Speedster came to be.

             Arriving at Callaway Cars Headquarters in Old Lyme, CT, I was met by minus four degrees weather outside and the car I was about to see had no roof. None of the L98 based Speedsters had provisions for a top as the Speedster was designed to be a wind in your hair, pure and stylish automobile.

             Speedster number 9 began its life as a turquoise metallic convertible wearing a black top and fitted with black sport leather interior. It was one of the many cars ordered by Pennsylvania dealership Valley Chevrolet in 1991 and brought to Callaway Cars not long after. From there, it sat, as construction records show the earliest progress began the transformation to Speedster in October 1992 and for many years after, the car was simply tucked away in a back corner as other projects took precedence. A report in 1998 eluded that Speedster construction was not over yet and a visit to Old Lyme in February 2003 confirmed, a partially constructed Speedster did exist. This Speedster was commissioned by Reeves Callaway and I am told that it is engineered to be, “everything that a B2K could possibly be” based upon the many lessons learned over the years. Completed in January 2004 and delivered as a surprise gift to his wife Susan, this Callaway has had special handling the entire way.

            Finished in an Olive Green Pearl metallic, the car is fitted with the distinctive Paul Deutschman styled Aerobody™. Unique to the Speedsters is the cockpit styling. Seven inches of front glass height has been removed and the body design continues, up into the rear section of the glass, which wraps around the entire passenger area. Subtle design elements were incorporated into the shape. These included such design concepts as the lip at the top of the windshield designed to “push” oncoming air up and over the occupants and the small oval mirror designed into the windshield trim itself. The rear bumper section is also unique, as it was notched for the center exit exhaust. Callaway’s highly polished 2.50” exhaust is a dual pipe system that is true, beginning immediately off the turbos. It has one small bullet catalyst on each side and an H-pipe midstream. The tubing is a constant diameter throughout and exits through the familiar “Double-D” tips.   

Settling inside the Speedster, one is treated to Wilton wool carpeting and premium leather, covering every inch of the interior. Finished in Dove Gray and Light Green, this is not your average interior. It has been fitted and stitched to cover all the factory panels with incredible detail and subtle logos to remind you that you are in something special. Inside, you will also notice the boost gauge in its familiar position underneath the radio and while the number plate had yet to be installed, both Twin Turbo #058 and unique Speedster #09 plaques were included.

 When I asked about other changes inside, the shifter was mentioned. Remembering how the car had sat for over a decade while under construction, I was told that at some point, the stock shifter assembly had vanished, possibly for another Callaway. As a result, another stock ZF6 shifter assembly had to be obtained from Germany for the car.

             Lifting the hood on the car revealed a familiar look, but not exactly. As mentioned earlier, this car received some special handling with much of that happening, under the hood. Based upon a production 1991 twin turbo engine, the most visible change is the unique intake manifold design. Part of the ultra-rare “100 Plus” option Callaway offered, the name says a lot. By selecting that package, one gained an extra 100 horsepower over the regular B2K and that intake is the centerpiece of the package, a design shared with the 254.76 mph Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette. Displacing 5.7 liters, generating its tremendous power though a pair of Rotomaster turbochargers, the Speedster draws that air into the intake though a beautifully polished “Rams-Horn” inlet which contains two additional injectors that cycle under boost upon the direction of a second computer called the Microfueller II. Once beyond the intake, the air rushes through a pair of heads that have been hand ported to achieve their high flow numbers. They are 1991 factory castings, featuring larger valves, 2.00” intake and 1.57” exhaust. The combustion chambers have also been ported and when combined with the piston design, the final compression ratio is 7.5:1. Speedster number 9 utilizes 1.6 roller rocker arms changing the valve geometry in combination with the factory roller camshaft and forged connecting rods were selected for durability. The boost level on this car is slightly up from the regular production B2K’s. This one produces 58HG’s, which translates to 14psi, and wastegate springs were changed to a stronger version to control the higher boost levels. The power levels on this car are tremendous. This unique Callaway makes approximately 525 horsepower and 675 lb ft-torque across a power curve as flat and broad as the Mid-West plains.

             Additional features on this B2K include wheels unique to this car. The other Speedsters all received Dymag, OZ, or Callaway Run-Flat wheels. The handsome wheels found on this car are RW Magnesium wheels measuring 18x10 inches in the front and rear. Tires are Pirelli P-Zero Rossos sized at 295/35/ZR18 front and rear with massive Brembo brakes featuring 4 piston calipers and floating discs. The suspension is the optional FX3 found on 1991 Corvettes and the radiator has been upgraded to a four row-racing unit.  Talking with Callaway Cars about some of these features, it was discovered that many are available as upgrades for current B2K owners.

 The gift was delivered the last week of January, future plans for this car are to drive and enjoy it as it was meant to be. Saving the best for last, Reeves Callaway and crew have created a true work of art –one that has been a very long time in the making. 

©Christopher Chessnoe 2/5/04 –

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