Automotive and Corvette Icon Reeves Callaway, Founder of Callaway Cars, Passes Away at 75

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I can almost remember it like yesterday – I was a kid and saw the Corvette Callaway Sledgehammer in magazines claiming a top speed of 254 mph thanks to 898 horsepower and some serious enginuity. I was enamored and in complete disbelief of a car reaching such speeds. Sure, it had to be a seriously modified vehicle by folks who knew what they were doing. It was Ely “Reeves” Callaway at the helm of his company started out of a garage that birthed something that set the automotive performance world on fire and pushed others to do greater things. Today, we celebrate Reeves Callaway, a renowned figure in the Corvette world and the founder of Callaway Cars, who has sadly passed away at the age of 75. Callaway Cars confirmed the news, stating that he died on Tuesday as a result of injuries sustained in a fall at his home in Newport Beach, California.

Born in November 1947 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Reeves Callaway was raised in Darien, Connecticut. Reeves showed an early passion for racing and began racing go-karts as a child and later achieved a significant milestone by winning the SCCA Formula Vee championship. Following his racing career, he became an instructor at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in 1976. After his racing career took a ‘turn,’ Reeves devoted himself to modifying cars. He gained attention with various projects like a turbocharger kit for the E21-generation BMW 320i. The interest generated by this kit led Callaway to establish Callaway Cars in 1977, starting from his garage in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Callaway’s exceptional work soon caught the eye of major automakers like Alfa Romeo and General Motors (GM). Callaway developed a twin-turbo kit for the Chevrolet Corvette, which became available through Chevy dealerships in 1987. Compared to the standard Corvette’s 240 horsepower, Callaway’s twin-turbo Corvette offered an impressive 382 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful cars of its time. Later, Reeves pushed the envelope of performance introducing the iconic Sledgehammer from a C4 Corvette featuring aerodynamic bodywork and a twin-turbo V-8 engine that produced a jaw-dropping 898 horsepower. This beastly machine reached a top speed of 254.76 mph, solidifying the association between Reeves Callaway and the Chevrolet Corvette.

Although Callaway Cars collaborated with various automakers over the years, its strongest and most enduring relationship was with the Corvette. The culmination of Callaway’s racing endeavors and automotive passion is found in his many developments and accomplishments over many years, which can still be found enstilled in newer creations on the Callaway website.

Reeves Callaway is survived by his four children and two grandchildren. His legacy as a Corvette legend and a pioneer in the automotive industry will undoubtedly endure, leaving a lasting impact on the world of high-performance cars.


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