Thursday, November 20, 2014

Museum Car Loaner Becomes Car Donor

Whenever the next evolution of the Corvette legend comes out of Detroit, it’s not long before high performance enthusiasts begin looking toward Connecticut for what will happen next. That is where Callaway Cars, Inc. has their headquarters and a staff ready to study it, take it apart, and create their own interpretation of America’s Sports Car. Since the late 1980s, a team led by Reeves Callaway has been finding ways to make “fast” faster much to the delight of the Corvette enthusiast who wants something a little (or a lot) different.

Over the years we’ve hosted an unveiling of a Callaway Corvette, along with having historic Callaway Corvettes like the Sledgehammer on exhibit. Recently we had an exhibit featuring Callaway Corvettes where one C5 Corvette in particular got a lot of attention. Owned by Gary Nichols, he decided to donate it to the Museum after facility manager Bob Hellmann told him about how popular the car was with guests.

“When Bob told me about how it drew a crowd, I realized how much it was appreciated here. I even had people come up to me at Carlisle and tell me they saw it here. It made perfect sense to donate it to the Museum. It is a special car and needs to be preserved and displayed.”

While he could have sold it, his concern was that it would have been bought for the performance causing the history to be lost. “I would have felt good about getting it in the hands of a Callaway collector who would honor the car, but this is really a win-win as the car can be a part of the Museum and part of history.”

The thing that makes this car special is that it was purchased by Callaway and used in their development of their C5 Power Groups. This was the test mule used before the car went into production. For one of these to make its way into the public is a rare thing.

“I was looking for a silver C5 Z06 when I heard about this car,” Gary says. “I knew about the work Callaway had done with Twin Turbos, so I drove up to his plant in Old Lyme, Connecticut to see it. Reeves told me he’d never sold a test car before, making it that much more special to get. We worked out a deal and I took it home.”

Knowing what he had, he made it a point to keep everything original. “It is an integral part of Callaway history. It’s been featured in Corvette Enthusiast and Vette Magazine, and has Bloomington certification, and been exhibited at the Museum and elsewhere. The way it sits now it has power group 1, 2 and 3, and it ran an 11.7 at 121 mph. It has almost 500 hp. At one point, one of the engines they put in it tested at 10.9 making the track manager kick them off the track for not having a roll cage at that speed.”

While he will miss it, he feels honored that it has a new home at the Museum. “I feel good about people coming to look it and learn from it. Besides, I like having an excuse to come out and visit it once a year.”