When it comes to American performance vehicle specialists that possess an immense amount of clout, Callaway is definitely up there. While the Temecula, California-based company has put its hands on everything from the Mk1 Volkswagen Rabbit to the Mazdaspeed Protege, its true bread and butter has been the Chevrolet Corvette for the past 35 years. In 1987, the company unleashed the Twin Turbo Corvette, a 382-horsepower C4-generation version of America's venerable fiberglass hero, and has done extra cool things with the nameplate (and the greater Bowtie catalog) ever since. Including, more recently, some neat FIA GT3 activities.
With the introduction of the mid-engine C8 Corvette, Callaway offered the B2K 35th Anniversary Edition. This spec was available to just 35 new Corvette owners as a factory option (coded as regular production option PCY) and included a host of exterior and mild performance tweaks to up the C8's tenacity, particularly when optioned with Z51-equipped models that already sport a higher level of athleticism than anything that might get called rental car spec.
Callaway recently let me take the B2K for a hearty spin throughout Southern California's San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica Mountains, and it made for a very memorable afternoon.
2022 Callaway Corvette B2K 35th Anniversary Edition Specs
The Devil is In the Details
What's important to point out about the Callaway Corvette B2K 35th Anniversary Edition is that it makes the same amount of power as any Z51-packaged Corvette off the production line—495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque.
Instead, Callaway threw a lot of its know-how at the exterior and interior, and they got it right. Most notably, the body's glass fiber is joined by a healthy amount of added carbon fiber including a big front splitter, rocker panel extensions, slot gap rear spoiler, and massive rear diffuser. My favorite bit is the diffuser—the embossed Callaway lettering has a cool throwback feel to it. Callaway states that the splitter, diffuser, and rocker extension panels all increase the overall aerodynamics of the car (read: more grip at most speeds), but did not offer specific percentages.
Inside, some neat branded surfaces outfit key areas, like laser engraved anodized door sill panels, embroidered floor mats, a billet metal pedal set, and a commemorative plaque on the center console. Otherwise, it's all stock—albeit well-adorned—Corvette equipment. Considering this 3LT-level 'Vette started at $79,850, it's a very nice place to be indeed. Gone are the days of putting up with lower-tier parts bin sourcing for bargain performance capability.
I was not impressed with how I fit in the C8 Corvette—this thing had awfully tight quarters for accommodating my fellow countrymen. I'm six-foot-three with a longish torso and had to contort a tad more than I'd prefer to reach a comfortable driving position. Mercifully, this convertible’s electrically removable hardtop meant unlimited headroom was accessible at the press of a button. Driving exclusively top-down isn’t exactly practical, though. Ironically, I was far more comfortable in the dimensionally smaller Lotus Evora GT.
However, where fitment was on-point was unrelated to my apparently too-tall stature: the wheels. These are perhaps the most noticeable upgrade that Callaway did—visually and on paper—as they slash 26 pounds of unsprung mass off the normal C8.
They also look extremely good. The stockers aren't bad, but these forged versions have a nice track-oriented, multi-spoke look and really sets off the four-piston, 13-inch brakes' robustness, and poke out of the fenders just enough for a focused stance. Callaway cut a further 40 pounds in another very noticeable spot as well: the exhaust system.
The Callaway Corvette B2K sounded downright ferocious pretty much all of the time but especially during a cold start. This doesn't bode well for anyone trying to make new friends in their neighborhood, but, honestly, who cares? Callaway's way of uncorking the glorious 6.2-liter, 16-valve LT2 V8 is one of the greatest odes to the GM small block, ever.
The noise emitted from its black chrome double-D exhaust tips was so damn good at all times, but calmed down just enough so as not to upset nearby normies or law enforcement at low revs. But even in this less vivacious vocal range, there was still so much texture and theater to the way it kept the motor spinning along.
Then, because the engine sits literally right behind the passenger compartment, I could hear so much of what was going on. Some noises were a tad annoying—you can hear the inner workings of the LT2's valvetrain if you listen carefully—but otherwise, it was quite cool to get a healthy amount of induction noise in addition to everything else contributing to the symphony of internal combustion.
As far as how this mighty C8 took on tight, twisty roads, I was pleasantly impressed. We've extensively covered how this is indeed the latest People's Supercar, but finding this out for myself was endless fun.
Chevy absolutely nailed the Z51 C8's inputs. The brake pedal was firm and confident, and the steering wheel translated every millimeter of movement from the front end in razor-sharp fashion. I switched between Sport and Track mode quite a bit—they both had a similar focused-yet-well-damped ride, but Track added a generous amount of weight to its steering. While steering feel wasn't anything to write home about in either mode, response and ratio were perfect. Then, its chassis performed exactly how I hoped it would.
It took a few corners for the front brakes and tires to warm up, which was a solid reminder to always ease into any car's performance. Once they were in the sweet spot, the front end stuck to the twisty and bumpy Malibu tarmac like glue. The Callaway Corvette was an utter joy to brake deep into a slow, tight corner, immediately feather back onto the gas mid-corner, and then stomp on on the way out. All without taking my hands off the wheel thanks to its quick ratio. I could feel the preciseness of how the weight shifted from each tire, and Track mode even let the rear end occasionally, lightly step out despite traction control still being there to reign in any over- or undercalculations. God bless Chevy for allowing such controlled rascality.
Where a good, lightweight front-wheel-drive chassis will rotate really well on its nose, the C8 'Vette acted in a similar fashion, yet ensured that a good percentage of its 3,600-pound curb weight remained between the front and rear wheels for nothing but grip, confidence, and massive smiles. Again, like any good mid-engine sports car ought to.
A Balanced Approach to Longitudinal G Force
As far as how the C8 accelerated, its 6.2-liter LT2 wasn't as exciting as I thought it'd be at first. Power builds up in a linear, progressive fashion and it wasn't as torquey down low as I was expecting.
Instead, its character proved to possess an excellent balance. Launching the C8 unleashed all the torque-filled drama and noise, and its published zero to 60 mph time of 2.9 seconds is very believable. Then, it rocketed out of corners in a progressive but very expedient fashion, making it very easy to drive at speed.
Finally, the C8's eight-speed automatic gearbox upped the thrills even further. It was an all-around quick-shifting unit that became even more entertaining in Track mode. The shifts were what made launches so incredibly addictive—gears were fired off with an almost whip-like thrash and it sounded and felt like no other gearbox I'd ever experienced. It had its awkward moments, such as crawling with my foot lightly on the brake to creep forth at stop signs.
One Hell of a Preview
For those exclaiming "what gives?!" over Callaway not adding a healthy amount of forced induction-sourced horsepower to the B2K, never fear: a blower-equipped 'Vette with an extended five-year or 50,000-mile warranty is in the works.
The B2K might not appear to be much more than an appearance package, but who cares? Even yours truly, someone who tends to favor European fare—especially of the very broken variety—can't deny tying the Callaway name to Kentucky's finest export (that's right bourbon snobs, I said it). Especially when what the Bluegrass State is producing is so damn good to begin with.
This latest Callaway creation looks the part and plays it incredibly well. It's a hell of an amuse-bouche; I can't wait to see what this upcoming supercharged variant drives like.
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