Reeves Callaway has built a reputation for producing some of the most sophisticated and advanced Corvette-based sports cars.

Introduced in 1998, Callaway’s C12 continued this legacy. Designed, developed and constructed by two top German engineering and development companies, Callaway and IVM, the C12 was intended as a bespoke, high-performance car that offered its occupants a civilized interior and relaxed ride.

With aerodynamic bodywork fabricated from fiberglass, carbon fiber and Kevlar, a massaged aluminum V8 engine, heavily revised suspension, enormous disc brakes, and a thoughtfully upgraded interior, the Callaway C12 is a custom-built American supercar. It is so different from its Corvette base that cars sent to Europe are titled as Callaways. Very few of these cars were built and most were custom made to specifications of the clients.

One of only two such Speedsters built, this Callaway C12 was constructed to the special order of Bruce Callner, a longtime Callaway client. As delivered, the car was one of two C12s delivered with an automatic transmission and the only automatic Speedster ever built. Not content with the standard automatic set-up, Callaway purpose-built the transmission to cope with the tremendous power of the V8, and the electronic controls were modified. This Speedster was also ordered with dual coil suspension, blue and cream leather seats, metallic Lambo Blue paint, the Le Mans brake package, and interior carbon fiber trim, which contributed to a price in excess of $225,000.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1999 Callaway C12 Speedster
Years Produced:1997–2001
Number Produced:20 (2 Speedsters)
Original List Price:$228,000
SCM Valuation:$75,000–$80,000
Tune Up Cost:$500
Distributor Caps:$25
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side dash at windshield
Engine Number Location:On engine pad surface, passenger’s side, front of block
Club Info:National Corvette Restorers Society 6291 Day Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45252-1334
Alternatives:2010 Corvette Z06; 1987–90 Callaway Twin Turbo; 1990–95 Corvette ZR-1s
Investment Grade:C

This car sold for $85,250, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding & Company’s Scottsdale Auction on January 23, 2010.

Think major autobahn cruiser

The Callaway C12 program was initially conceived to be a series of production vehicles with entrée to the GT2 class at Le Mans. The program was a success, with the cars it entered taking the class pole position at Le Mans in 2001—a move that bested entrants from both longtime Le Mans competitors Porsche and Ferrari.

Production versions, like this car, were built alongside the race versions, with features including a 5.7-liter LS1 engine putting out 440 hp at 6,300 rpm, 14-inch four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, Callaway-tuned suspension, a carbon fiber/Kevlar/fiberglass body designed by Paul Deutschman (of Sledgehammer and Aero-Body fame), and a unique paint and interior scheme. It was specially engineered to use 19-inch 25-series P-Zero Pirellis, and was built between Callaway in Connecticut and Callaway Competition in Leingarten, Germany, where it gained full manufacturing status… think major autobahn cruiser.

The C12 series was produced from 1997 to 2001, with a total production of 20 cars. Lot 146 at Gooding was #16, one of only two C12 Speedsters built, and it was the only one with an automatic transmission. It carried a list price of $228,000 in 1999.

But is it jinxed?

In an almost-Hitchcockian twist, this car has been followed by a tale of ill fortune. First owner Callner died a month after he bought the car, and the second owner, a Mr. Kilkenny, died the same year he purchased it for a reported $137,500. Corvette Mike Vietro bought the car next and drove the Petersen Automotive Museum Rally from Los Angeles to Quail Lodge in Carmel. When he got there, he received a call that his father had just died.

Otis Chandler purchased the car through Vietro in 2002 for $115,000, and it remained in his collection until he died in 2006. John O’Quinn, one of the world’s great automobile collectors, owned the car next, adding it to his amazing stable of 1,000 cars, where it stayed throughout the last six years of his life. He died in an automobile accident in Houston in 2009.

But now there is a new chapter. Gooding consigned the car to the auction in Arizona, where the successful bidder paid $85,250 all in to own it. He has already contacted Callaway to register himself as the proud new owner. This C12 has averaged only about 1,000 miles a year since new, so it should be ready for many more years of enjoyment.

Huge money for huge performance

Callaway Cars Inc. has produced close to 1,000 specially modified, styled, and tuned cars, most of which sit on original Corvette platforms.

Callaway claims the C12 package was designed and built to a standard rather than to a cost, and anyone who has spent any time behind the wheel of one can attest to the level of detail that went into it. With a top speed of around 188 mph and a 0–60 mph time of around 4.7 seconds, it’s a true supercar, and with both unique styling and extremely limited numbers—especially when it comes to the roadster—it’s as exclusive and upmarket as you can get in a C5.

Many other Callaway Corvettes have either held their values or been on a slight uptick in selling price—but they are bought, not sold, with potential owners generally seeking them out. The few B2K Speedsters (1987–91) built have held at over $100,000 for many years, and the C16 third-series cars are now trading for close to $300,000.

So although this C12 roadster might be considered sold at a current market value, as a one-off supercar offering both superb performance and exclusivity, I’d still call it well bought. It is surely fully depreciated, yet has covered few miles, and it will offer the new owner all of the excitement the original owner had, yet at barely more than one-third the original cost

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