Matt Farah’s The Smoking Tire YouTube channel doesn’t discriminate when it comes to testing cars; it just has to be interesting and fun to drive. With that said, Matt took a trip over to Eagles Canyon Raceway in Decatur, Texas to give his driving impression of a 1988 Callaway Corvette, owned by Aaron Bunch of ATS Racing, in Denton, Texas.
For a little bit of history, the Callaway Corvettes were produced between 1987 and 1991 by Callaway Cars for Chevrolet. To date, Callaway Corvette represents the only time where GM has allowed a factory orderable, non-GM performance enhancement on the Corvette—but what an option!
Built as a performance upgrade to hold customers until the ZR1 arrived, Callaway started with the factory L98 350, and beefed things up with new forged pistons, crankshaft, improved lubrication and four bolt main bearing caps; all to withstand boost.
This produced 345hp and 465 lb/ft of torque, 100hp more than the stock Corvette, which was a pretty significant step up in 1987—this placed the Corvette within striking range of the supercars of the day. By the end of the production run in 1991, the Callaway Corvettes were cranking out a brutish 403hp and 575 lb/ft of torque.
Aaron’s ’88 came stock with 382hp and 586 lb/ft of torque; 37 more hp than the previous year, but he decided to do some upgrading, and installed a Callaway-recommended TPIS camshaft, and converted it to run on E85 fuel. The end result is 476hp and 607 lb/ft of torque at the wheels; which means that the 350 is putting out somewhere in the low 500’s at the flywheel. Bolted to the factory Doug Nash 4+3 manual trans, and riding on stock Corvette suspension, you can guess that it was an interesting drive!
By the time the video was over, it was apparent that Matt had a complete blast driving the C4 for a few hot laps, in spite of the many quirks of being a late 80’s GM car. He concluded that in spite of its age, it’s still fast—scary fast!
Living in Richmond, Tx, PJ Rentie has been in the automotive industry for more than 30 years. This former Assistant Editor at Vette Magazine also spent time with companies like NOS, Edelbrock, Hillbank Motorsports, Classic Industries, and was an automotive instructor for Cypress College for ten years. In his spare time, PJ hopes to one day bring his Fox Body Mustang out of the back yard and back onto the street!