By on April 10, 2020

This series featured a Callaway creation once before — the incredible and Teal Time upholstered Speedster from 1991. While the Speedster showed what Callaway could do with a Nineties Corvette, the company dabbled in similar era Camaros as well.

Let’s see what they created.

The Callaway company was initially a turbocharging enterprise, one which worked for BMW in the late Seventies. Owner Reeves Callaway developed a new turbocharger for the 320i that helped the model’s 2.0-liter engine provide 160 horsepower (instead of the standard version’s 110). A few years later, Callaway was hired by Alfa Romeo to work on the GTV-6. The angular liftback gained two turbos in that application.

Exposure to the GTV put Callaway on GM’s radar, and the automaker soon inked a deal with Callaway to create a twin-turbo Corvette engine. In a first for Callaway, its engine design was offered as factory option by a manufacturer, and covered under warranty. Turbo development continued through late 1988, with the pinnacle Sledgehammer. It was still a Corvette, but one transformed into a 900-horsepower monster.

Once the Nineties brought along a new LT1 engine (Gen II), Callaway pivoted from turbo and went to more traditional power enhancement methods. The most important change Callaway made was an increase in displacement. The 5.7-liter became a 6.3, and a new intake (along with other changes) resulted in 404 horsepower. During the new engine’s development, Callaway kept the upcoming Camaro in mind. Sports car customers everywhere were excited for a modern Camaro to succeed the ancient Eighties block. Engine work complete, the new SuperNatural LT1 V8 was born.

Callaway also needed aero enhancements. The company reached out to the designer of the prior twin-turbo Corvettes and asked for a Camaro design; what resulted was the “CamAerobody.” The nose was longer and lower, with stabilizing fins to cut through the air. The lower part of the Camaro was also reworked, fiberglass covered the door skins and rocker panels. The rear end was reworked as well; smoothed edges assisted with drag. Behind each wheel, gills appeared like on those fancy European Ferraris. But everything was functional, and the power and aero changes meant a new top speed of 170.

The cost of all this work circa 1994 was around $56,000. Some customers bought a regular Camaro and had it converted to a “C8 SuperNatural” with the revised body and SuperNatural engine. Others swapped only the engine, or only the aero body. A select few ordered a C8 direct, which was only available via Mystic Chevrolet in Mystic, Connecticut (now Valenti Chevrolet). Today’s Rare Ride is one of those direct order cars, an early example of the 55 total cars completed. It’s listed for sale presently on eBay.

[Images: seller]

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15 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1994 Callaway C8 SuperNatural – a Fast Camaro...”


  • avatar
    JMII

    It looks a bit like a Mitsubishi GT3000. On a list of things this gen Camaro did not need was more front overhang. 55 people actually ordered this? OK then.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Pretty sure there are no performance upgrades which can be achieved over the bone stock factory tuning, by anyone, anywhere, ever.

    (If the factory could have done it better, they would have already – those guys are pretty smart.)

    [And if that’s true, why would the factory ever acknowledge the obverse? I mean, those guys must be pretty stupid.]

    • 0 avatar
      18726543

      There were actually a number of performance upgrades that could be done on these cars (some free) that together added up to reasonable benefits. The reasons they weren’t done by the factory design team were typically 3-fold:

      1. Fuel economy (and if you don’t think they cared about fuel economy on a V8 Camaro, Exhibit A: skip shifter)
      2. Price. The top model Camaro (SS) was about $33k in 2002. Inflation adjusted, that’s about $47k today. Today’s high-model Camaro’s are over $60k. Makes the less expensive models seem more affordable.
      3. There is a Chevy sports car above the Camaro upon who’s performance toes the Camaro may never step. If the performance numbers get too close together, the $25,000 premium for the Corvette gets less appealing.

    • 0 avatar

      Why would you argue that performance tuning isn’t a thing?

      Sure it is, for all aspects of performance, including handling.

      A car is meant for a certain customer or segment, it’s not “at the limit” from the factory.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      The difference between a FBO (full bolt on) modified 3.7L V6 Mustang is worth more than ~1.5 seconds on the quarter miles (or more).

      Given the stock 2.73 gears out back, changing to 3.55s or 3.73s is quite a change. Add in a ECU tune for 93 octane gas, long tube headers, ported lower/upper intakes, plus various suspension modifications.

      The guys who have supercharged the stock N/A motor are often in the high 10s.

      And two gents have gone with turbocharging are in the 9s. On a “sealed” motor with the stock cams, pistons, cranks, and blocks.

      That’s pushing the limit of this V6 platform for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      In the 1980s and 1990s, there were numerous vehicles where the factory tune left a lot of “meat on the bone”. Performance tuning can improve those vehicles a lot. In 2020, the opportunities for improvement seem to be fewer, because the manufacturers are more focused on fuel economy and emissions. Usually, high power is compatible with good fuel economy and low emissions. So the optimization of most vehicles is better than it was in those past decades. Sometimes you can make a trade that the factory wasn’t willing to make – like higher power at the expense of running on 87-octane, or crisper shifts at the expense of a “bump” into gear.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I owned a late-’90s Camaro and while I agree this would certainly improve its speed capabilitiy, said model was notorious for overheating in heavy traffic congestion in warmer weather. In the near-ubiquitous traffic jam caused by a crash on the freeway, I would often… almost always… have to open the windows and set the AC to full heat to try and keep the temperature away from boil-over levels. Once you could get back up to 40mph or higher, the engine temp would start to drop and soon get back to ‘normal’ temperatures.

    If anyone will recall, the original Plymouth Super Bird and Dodge Charger Daytona suffered the same issue on the racetrack, forcing frequent lead changes when they were running nose to tail.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    Side view? Niiiice
    Rear view? Nods head up and down
    Front view? The hell?

  • avatar
    GregLocock

    ” The nose was longer and lower, with stabilizing fins to cut through the air.”

    Well I looked through my books on aerodynamics, and nowhere could I find a reference to fins helping a car cut through the air. I think you may be confusing tailoring with aerodynamics.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    An absolute embarrassment.

  • avatar

    Callaway got a start by making VW turbo kits. I had a Scirocco with a primitive but effective system. The stock engine, blown probably got 130 hp, but in a no weight car, it was pretty quick. No intercooler….water (actually washer fluid) injection took care of detonation- came on at 3 lbs boost …I bought a LOT of wiper fluid. I still recall the window sticker…

    No Boost until Warm….allow 30 seconds spin down before shutting off engine.

    There wasn’t any water jacket, the turbo was cooled only by oil, and you didn’t want to “coke the bearings”.

    I guess it worked, I’ve had a few turbo cars to this day, and never replaced a turbo…

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