Ely Reeves Callaway III (known as Reeves), founder of Corvette tuner Callway Cars, died on Tuesday at his home in California after sustaining injuries in a fall. He was 76.
Son of Callaway Golf founder Reeves Callaway Jr., and brother of publisher Nicholas Callaway, the younger Reeves started his company in 1977 in a garage in Old Lyme, Connecticut, growing it into a prolific builder of performance road cars and race cars.
Callaway’s first product was a turbo kit for BMWs that quickly earned a favorable review from legendary automotive journalist Don Sherman in Car and Driver. Callaway, who raced in Formula Vee before starting his company, moved on to more elaborate projects.
While Callaway Cars has offered aftermarket parts for multiple brands, including BMW, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Land Rover, and Mazda, the company is primarily associated with the Chevrolet Corvette. In 1987, General Motors gave the tuner its official stamp of approval, designating Callaway a Specialty Vehicle Manufacturer and allowing Callaway Corvettes to be sold through Chevy dealers with the B2K factory code.
In 1989, Callaway Cars built the SledgeHammer, a C4 Corvette powered by a twin-turbo 5.7-liter V-8 that produced 880 hp and 774 lb-ft of torque—unbelievable numbers in the 1980s. John Lingenfelter drove it to a top speed of 254.76 mph at the 7.5-mile Transportation Research Center test track in East Liberty, Ohio.
Callaway Cars has continued to tune Corvettes, and even launched a C7 Corvette shooting brake called the AeroWagon. A European arm of the company, Callaway Competition, was founded in 1994 and has raced them internationally. Germany-based Callaway Competition was also authorized by GM to build racing versions of the C6 and C7 Corvettes for the GT3 class, alongside the factory Corvette Racing program.
“Thanks to Reeves’ visionary entrepreneurial spirit, Callaway Cars will continue to innovate and grow in the 21st century,” his son Peter Reeves Callaway, the company’s current president, said in a statement posted to social media honoring his father.
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