The incredible Callaway Cars C12 Cabriolet made its first appearance at the New York Auto Show in March 1999. It's easy to see that every panel of this incredible car was manufactured specifically to achieve the positive aerodynamic design needed for stability at speeds above 200 mph.
Designed by Paul Deutschman in conjunction with IVM Engineering, the body of the C12 consists of a carbon-Kevlar matrix for overall strength and low weight. These unique components include the hood, fenders and door panels, B-pillar panels, door-sill plates, carbon-fiber engine cover set, and an aluminum billet hood-hinge set. The result is the C12 Cabrio, a functioning work of art. Each C12 was totally assembled by hand in Callaway's Leingarten, Germany, facility; it took 12 weeks to build. Through the course of its production, the factory in Germany documents that only 27 C12s were ever built.
In relationship to designing the complete car, Callaway Cars and IVM Engineering of Troy, Michigan, co-engineered the brake, wheel/tire, and suspension systems to match the performance of the new SuperNatural LS1 powerplant. To achieve a desired 2-meter track with the car, they had to create an advanced suspension system, not simply change wheel offsets to achieve that wide track. The C12 has an individual wheel-suspension system with double A-arms and adjustable dampers fitted to both axles, which dramatically improves the car's stability.
This ensured the geometry maintained its optimal design despite the increased length of the suspension components not found on the production-based Corvettes. The team also designed four-piston, forged-aluminum calipers and huge 355mm slotted rotors so the car would have ample stopping capability.
The new suspension also necessitated designing and building special wheels. In conjunction with the system, Callaway used 19-inch-diameter wheels on the front and rear. They also mounted 295/30ZR-19 proprietary run-flat tires on the 10.5-inch wheels.
The SuperNatural engine was designed to deliver progressive power from 2,000 rpm with a noticeable increase in torque throughout the complete engine speed range. The Callaway SuperNatural powerplant is a naturally aspirated 5.7L LS1 engine, tuned to meet world emissions standards, that delivers 440 bhp at 6,500 rpm-quite a feat in 1998.
The LS1 block was left basically stock, but uses a Callaway optimized crank, forged 4340 steel connecting rods, lightweight forged-aluminum pistons, and a new Callaway proprietary camshaft to create the SuperNatural powerplant. The specific aluminum heads were also new and were CNC-machined by Callaway to achieve optimum volume and flow. Each combustion chamber was reshaped and qualified so each cylinder is identical. The C12 could be ordered with either a six-speed manual transaxle or a four-speed automatic transmission with a limited-slip differential.
Standard equipment on each C12 included dual airbags, an onboard computer, an automatic climate-control system, heated exterior mirrors, a windscreen aerial, and deluxe contour seats. This C12 was ordered with the optional Interior Leather Group, which allowed the customer to design the interior using Connolly leather hides and Wilton Wool carpeting. It also included a two-tone leather steering wheel, leather lower dashboard covering, leather two-tone door coverings, a leather console cover, a leather inner sill and interior B-pillar, leather Konig sport seats with electric adjustment, and a Wilton Wool driver/passenger/cargo floor-mat set. This option added $12,500 to the car. It also has specialty paint, which was an additional $8,400. The Cabriolet option designed by Paul Deutchman had a manual soft-top with the integrated headrests, and added another $19,800. The manufacturer's suggested retail price for this C12 was $178,700. And that, folks, was in 1999!
This car has quite a history. In fact, it was the first C12 Cabriolet that was built and shown at both the Detroit and New York Auto shows in 1999. It was later sold to Sony Music CEO Tommy Mottola and is currently owned by Christopher Pliaconis from Oldfield, New York. He's owned it for about two years, and recently sent it back to Callaway Cars for minor work to ensure it was performing to C12 specifications.
The car is in its original configuration, and remains as shown to the public in 1999. Wow, Chris, can we bum a ride to the next Corvette event?