254-MPH Callaway Sledgehammer Chevrolet Corvette for Sale!

For those of you who remember the cars of the 1980s, you’ll know that many of those cars didn’t have much more than 200 horsepower.  Fox-Body Ford Mustangs had 225 horsepower, tops.  Chevrolet Corvettes didn’t have much more.  Buick Grand Nationals didn’t even top 275 horsepower.  Nissan 300ZX’s barely made 200 horsepower.  Then, Callaway came along with an 898-horsepower 1988 Corvette that went 254 mph.  They called it the Sledgehammer.  It gave hope to us automotive enthusiasts at the time that horsepower wasn’t a thing of the past.  Sure, it wasn’t a factory vehicle, but who cares when you’re driving a Chevrolet Corvette at 254 mph?  By the time you will read this, the Sledgehammer Vette will have a new owner, as it’s crossing the block at the 2014 Dana Mecum Kissimee, Florida, auction.

Some background on the car:

John Lingenfelter (the same guy who would later start Lingenfelter Performance Engineering drove the car to 254.76 mph.  This was done on October 26, 1988 at the Transportation Research Center in Ohio.  This was done after the car was driven – not trailered – driven! from Connecticut.

Power comes from a Chevrolet small-block V8 with aluminum Brodix heads, and a custom cam that targeted the sweet spot between heavy breathing and docile city driving.  This is the kind of car where you can drive it to a standing mile event, set records, and drive it home.  Since all Callaway cars are turbocharged, the Sledgehammer was no exception.  It has a TO4B Turbonetics twin turbocharger kit with twin intercoolers.

The engine wasn’t the only place to receive modifications.  For high-speed stability (remember, very few race cars had hit 250 mph, and only a couple of partially-stock cars had ever been above 250 mph before this point), Callaway consulted with legendary race-car builder Carroll Smith.  Smith relocated the Sledgehammer’s lower control arms to reduce ride height by one inch (a lower center of gravity is the best at high speeds) and added Koni shock absorbers.  Goodyear ultra-high-speed tires were paired with 17-inch Dymag aluminum wheels.

Callaway wanted the world to know that this was one special Corvette.  The body is a special Callaway Aerobody.  It looks pretty stock, but it has an elongated shovel nose and a high rump.  Inside, it looks relatively stock, until one sees the leather-padded roll bar (every Corvette has to have some sort of luxury…), the five-point harness, and the various gauges for monitoring engine vitals.

As if that didn’t make it even more special, it’s esteem has been significantly raised because Bloomington Gold folks chose the Sledgehammer as one of the 50 Corvettes that have significantly influenced the Corvette phenomenon.  Bloomington Gold doesn’t invite your neighbor Bob with his Corvette convertible to be part of the Bloomington Gold Great Hall.

It’s a very special car that is meant to be driven – hard!  The Sledgehammer would be perfectly at home at a superspeedway like Talladega International Superspeedway.  Congratulations to whomever owns a piece of Corvette history.


Ford Wins 12 Hours of Sebring for the First Time Since 1969!

The last time Ford won the 12 Hours of Sebring was back in 1969.  That was when a Ford GT40 MkI beat out a Ferrari 312P.  That was at the tail end of Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari’s decade-long motor sports rivalry.

Now, 45 long years later, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford Daytona Prototype brought the glory back to Dearborn after 12 chaotic and dramatic hours.

The skilled drivers, Marino Franchitti, Scott Pruett, and Memo Rojas, managed to get the Ford Daytona Prototype across the finish line a mere 5 seconds ahead of Ryan Danziel and the Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03B.  They managed to do this after a late restart bunched the field up.

The win makes Chip Ganassi the only team owner ever to have race titles from the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

As for the GT classes, cars from Stuttgart took the win.  Andy Lally, John Potter, and Marco Seefried won GT Daytona in the No. 911 car.  Amazing pit stops helped Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, and Michael Christensen drive the CORE Autosports Porsche 911 RSR to victory in the GTLM class.

With the Prototype Challenge class, former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Colin Braun helped put the CORE-ORECA Chevrolet FLM09 best reigning class champion Bruno Junquiera.

With the highly anticipated Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, fuel pump issues and 2 spins dropped the leading Vette to 6th, which disappointed driver Oliver Gavin.  Ben Keating and the SRT Viper GT-D retired within the first hour after a truly spectacular fire.

The revolutionary Nissan DeltaWing led its class for several laps, but retired after Lap 104, thanks to a collision on that lap, in addition to a botched pit stop and multiple mechanical issues.

The Best Corvette Yet?

The Chevrolet Corvette has long stood as a performance and luxury icon for GM.  In recent years, the luxury part of the Corvette has slipped.  A lot.  But, Chevrolet decided to fix that with the C7 Corvette Stingray.  Unfortunately, Corvette redesigns don’t come around that often.  There have only been seven generations of Corvette in 61 years.  The performance part was, is, and always is, a part of one of the most iconic cars in American history.  The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is a car that redefines the word “Americana.”

The engine of the Corvette is all-new.  Aluminum and other lightweight metals are abundant in the engine.  It’s also a lot more powerful and efficient.  It makes 455 horsepower at a thundering 5900 RPM, and 460 lb-ft of torque at a lower 4600 RPM.  Power is amped up to 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque at the same revs if you opt for the $1,195 Dual-Mode Performance Exhaust.  The aforementioned exhaust system essentially bypasses the rear mufflers with a pair of exhaust butterflies.  Think of them as flaps that open when Sport Mode is engaged.  The rest of the time, they remain closed.  The efficiency part isn’t just restricted to the exhaust butterflies.  While cruising, it can operate as a 3.1-liter V4, and produce 126 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque.  That, according to the chief engineer of the Corvette Stingray, is 10 times the power needed to maintain 50 mph, and get the Corvette Stingray up to 90 mph.

Another thing to brag about:  Preliminary EPA reports are 17 city/29 highway for the seven-speed manual.  The EPA has not released figures for the automatic transmission.  These figures rank the Stingray as the least thirsty 450-plus horsepower car currently on the market.

The eDiff in the Corvette Stingray is also noteworthy.  When it is open at 60 mph, and the wheel is cranked in either direction, the car will immediately go into a dramatic, smoky drift that would make Ken Block proud.  This differential can be programmed in many different ways, and make any driver proud of how well this car performs.

Many people have previously complained about how bad the seats were/are in the Corvette C6.  Chevrolet completely redesigned the seats.  The base bucket seats are perfectly fine for blasting along a country road at high speeds, but owners who plan to take their C7 to the track should wait it out for the expensive $1,995 Recaro seats.

The Corvette Stingray Z51 (package) is a hoot and a half to drive, but those who are on a budget are probably wondering about the base car.  The vinyl interior almost perfectly matches the look of the cowhide interior, but the smells are different.  The design team took no chances, and completely redesigned or changed every single part in the interior of the Corvette.  All Corvette Stingrays come standard with the big touchscreen.  But, it doesn’t do as much as the one in the Z51 model.  Because there is no eDiff or fully adjustable magnetic shocks, there isn’t nearly as much to change.  The base 9-speaker Bose audio system has a hard time being louder than the raspy thrum of the V4.  The 12-speaker system with the big bass box does.

Overall, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is a vast improvement over the C6.  It’s more powerful, it uses lighter materials (yet a model that Motor Trend tested weighed 69 pounds more – options), it’s more fuel-efficient, and it looks better.  You can’t go wrong with this car.  I need one.  Plus, Callaway, a tuning firm based out of Ohio is building an FIA GT3-legal C7 as we speak.  Expect private teams to be competing against Chevy at Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.