Being the fastest car in the world apparently is worth more than half a million bucks to its owner.
The Corvette Callaway Sledgehammer earned legendary status throughout the automotive world after reaching a record speed of 254.76 mph in October 1988, with John Lingenfelter behind the wheel on the 7.5-mile oval track at the Transportation Research Center in Ohio.
Earlier this month, the Sledgehammer was offered for sale on Bring a Trailer, but after some spirited bidding that eventually reached a whopping $500,000, the car failed to meet the reserve.
We can’t blame the owner for not wanting to part with this historic Corvette without being adequately compensated, seeing that it held the unofficial speed record for nearly 20 years – unofficial only because the Sledgehammer was never put into production. Ironically, when the Bugatti Veyron established the Guinness-approved record of 253.81 mph, it was still just a little shy of the Sledgehammer’s mark! SSC’s Ultimate Aero finally surpassed the Sledgehammer in 2007 with a speed of 256.14 mph.
The Sledgehammer started life as the 51st Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette, which became the donor vehicle for Callaway’s Project Sledgehammer, an effort to set production car top-speed records while remaining street-legal.
A subsequent post on Bring a Trailer clarified that the Sledgehammer was never emission-compliant. “It was a test vehicle,” @1988callaway32 explains. “That’s why the license plate from Connecticut says ‘Experimental Test 175.’ On the other hand, the mission of the car was to be a road drivable and fully equipped for comfort, with full interior, radio, air conditioning, and so manageable that you could give the keys to your mom… Not a thinly disguised race car as all of the other TopSpeed contestants were. So ‘road drivable’ became ‘road legal’ in the press. We tried to correct that opinion in the public marketing. But to no avail.”
The car was offered for sale on behalf of the current owner by Callaway Cars founder Reeves Callaway and included engineering records, window sticker, a car familiarization course from Callaway Cars, an accident-free Carfax report, and a clean Colorado title.
A hand-built twin-turbo and intercooled 5.7-liter V8 engine poured out 880 horsepower and 772 lb-ft of torque in Callaway testing, now hooked to a ZF six-speed manual transmission (though the transmission in place during the record run was a Doug Nash 4+3 manual).
Coated with silver paint, the car has a Paul Deutschman-designed Callaway Aerobody, which includes a revised nose and front grille, functional fender and quarter panel vents, wider door caps, and a rear spoiler incorporated into a revised rear fascia using factory Corvette taillights. The design eventually became the AeroBody on later C4 Callaway Corvettes. The front fascia used in the record run was later replaced with a production AeroBody component.
The interior looks much the same as a stock C4, with the key differences being a Callaway boost gauge in place of one of the center dash vents, a four-point leather-padded roll hoop, a fire-suppression system, and five-point safety harnesses.
After its hectic beginning, the car hasn’t seen much activity, with just 2,000 miles on the odometer after spending a lot of time in a museum-like environment.
Callaway Cars replaced hoses, couplings, and fittings in a 2018 refresh. Speaking of museums, the car has been displayed several times at the National Corvette Museum and also was inducted into Bloomington Gold’s The Great Hall in 2013 as one of the 50 most influential Corvettes.
Callaway’s Famous Sledgehammer Corvette Offered for Sale on Bring a Trailer
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