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The 33 Year Old Sledgehammer Remains The Fastest Street Legal Corvette In Existence

1988 Chevrolet Corvette Callaway Sledgehammer
Image via BaT

The Callaway SledgeHammer is unquestionably one of the most famous Corvettes ever built. And with a recorded speed of 254.76 miles per hour, it’s the fastest street-legal Corvette in existence. Yet it’s a time capsule, from 1988, and in a lot of ways, it’s like staring at Apollo 11. Completely dated by today’s standards, yet represents an incredible achievement in time that has yet to be eclipsed. Could it still set another record tomorrow? Well, considering that it’s been stored in a museum environment for the past three decades, it’s certainly in the condition to do so. Suppose a new owner were to find out? Yes, the 1988 Chevrolet Corvette Callaway SledgeHammer is crossing the auction block.

What’s probably the most esteemed Corvette to pop up on Bring A Trailer, the Callaway SledgeHammer will be represented for its current owner by Reeves Callaway himself, and is expected to draw bids from all over the world.

MC&T recently caught up with Callaway Cars owner and founder Reeves Callaway, who explained that his company is unlikely to do a followup to the SledgeHammer Corvette speed record anytime soon. In turn, it makes the 255 mph top speed run, set at the Transportation Research Center in October 1988 during a Car & Driver comparison test, that much more uncommon of an occurrence. Nobody has come close to that kind of speed with a street legal Corvette. Not Hennessey, not Lingenfelter Performance, nor Katech.

The Callaway SledgeHammer began its life as a dealer-ordered 1988 Corvette with Regular Production Option code B2K. The car was then shipped to Callaway Engineering in Old Lyme, Connecticut, where it began its upgrades. By that time, the SledgeHammer was the 51st Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette for the 1988 model year.

1988 Chevrolet Corvette Callaway Sledgehammer
Image via BaT

Project SledgeHammer was a follow up to Project Top Gun, and represented a vehicle that was capable of breaking production car top speed records, which it did, while retaining a street legal demeanor. To prove it, the car was driven round-trip from Callaway headquarters in Connecticut to the Transportation Research Center’s 7.5-mile oval track in Ohio. There, late racing driver John Lingenfelter sent the car around the oval at a truly unfathomable 254.76 mph. A record that would go unchallenged until the arrival of the Bugatti Veyron in 2006.

According to Callaway, Project SledgeHammer was intended to be continually developed to participate in multiple top speed challenges that automotive magazines organized. However, when word got out that the car achieved the speeds that it did, nobody saw any point in challenging it. Although, it would certainly be interesting to see what that test would look like in today’s era.

More details on the Callaway SledgeHammer Corvette can be found on the Bring A Trailer listing, where the gavel will drop in just 11 days from now.

1988 Chevrolet Corvette Callaway Sledgehammer
image via BaT

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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