What is it?
This is American Corvette-fettler Callaway's new 616bhp flagship, the C16. In prospect, it's a Corvette C6 that has been rebodied, supercharged and given a new, stiffer chassis.
In reality, however, it's a rocketship that can lunge towards the horizon at the same rate as a Porsche Carrera GT: 0-62mph in 3.9sec, 0-100 in 7.5. Keep your foot on the floor and it won’t quit until the speedo is kissing 206mph.
The new C16 – unveiled at last December’s Los Angeles motor show – is wrapped in a stunning new body created by long-time Callaway designer Paul Deutschman that retains only the lift-off roof, rear deck, glass and mirrors of the Corvette coupé.
Deutschman has done a terrific job; that oval front grille has a look of a classic ’60s Pininfarina-bodied Ferrari.
What's it like
Climb aboard and prepare to be wowed. The C16's cabin is completely retrimmed in the kind of hand-stitched, glove-soft leather that wouldn’t look out of place in a high-end Audi. And that's perhaps no coincidence; all the interior pieces are hand-made in Callaway’s Leingarten factory in Germany, next door to the Audi plant; most of the upholsterers are ex-Audi.
Punch the start button and the big 6.0-litre V8 detonates with a breathy, deep-chested whoom. Mounted on top of the Corvette motor is the highly polished Eaton/Magnuson three-lobe supercharger attached to Callaway’s ‘Honker’ air intake system.
While Callaway’s standard supercharger package adds 160 ponies to the stock 400bhp C6 ’Vette LS2 V8, an additional 56bhp is extracted for the C16 through ported heads, bigger valves, new rocker arms and pushrods and a reprofiled cam.
Floor the right pedal and all of this translates into the kind of eyeball-compressing performance only Bugatti Veyron and Lamborghini Murciélago drivers get to experience.
Disengage the traction control and you can deposit long, black lines of fricasséd rubber on the road in first, second and third gears. Disengage stability control and you can tail-slide like a drift champ.
And the noise alone will spike your heart rate by 50 bpm. Imagine a dentist’s drill played through the speakers at a Bon Jovi concert and you get some idea of the sound of Callaway’s new C16 supercar as its supercharged V8 reaches its full aural crescendo.
As daily transportation, the C16 displays none of the tantrums usually associated with supercars. With 582lb ft of torque, the V8 pulls from walking pace in fourth. The clutch is light, the action of the
six-speed manual hefty but precise.
You'll need a race track to come anywhere close to the car’s handling limits. Even when pushing hard on back roads, the car’s 285/30 ZR19 front and 325/25 ZR20 rear Yokohama rubber sticks to the blacktop, while the Callaway-developed suspension (which uses adjustable Eibach dampers) eradicates almost all body roll. Only the sheer size of the car (it’s almost two metres wide) makes the C16 feel unwieldy on narrow roads.
Should I buy one?
Hand-built supercars never come cheap. Although the C16 has a base price in the US of $116,675, our loaded C16 test car would set you back $192,180. Or roughly the price of a Ferrari F430. In Germany, where Callaway will build C16s for Europe (sadly no right-hand drive), it will start at €100,000 (£67,500); consider the performance and exclusivity that buys you and it still looks cheap.
That's because, unlike the F430 that is made in its thousands, only 150 C16s will be built per year, split between coupé, newly-announced convertible and an upcoming Speedster.
That makes it about the most exclusive Corvette you can buy, as well as the most rapid, and a must if you want to upstage your Z06-owning neighbour.