Taking It Personal

Wanting to make his 427 Convertible that much more special, this owner turned to Callaway for extra power—and lots more.

October 31, 2012

Also from Issue 78

  • 60 Anniversary Salute: C1
  • Buyer’s Guide: C1/2
  • 1965 Small-Block Convertible
  • Tech: Fiberglass to Carbon Fiber
  • Racing: Doug Fehan Profile
  • 1971 LS6 Convertible
  • 2001 Z06
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When Greg Lotko began thinking about a replacement for his beloved 2007 Corvette convertible back in the spring of 2010, it didn’t occur to him that a massive earthquake in Japan would profoundly impact his purchase—but it did. Lotko believed that 2012 would be the final year for the C6, and made up his mind that a 2012 Crystal Red Metallic Grand Sport convertible with a full Callaway SC606 conversion package was exactly what he needed. Anticipating a relatively quick purchase, he transferred the 2007’s title to his father and was on the verge of ordering a new GS when the aforementioned earthquake and resulting tsunami led to the closure of Merck’s automotive paint-pigments plant in Fukushima Prefecture. This just happened to be the only plant in the world that manufactured Xirallic, a pigment created by coating aluminum oxide platelets with other metallic oxides. Xirallic is the magic ingredient that gives paint greater depth and color intensity than is otherwise possible, and without it, DuPont could not supply the Bowling Green Assembly Plant with Crystal Red Metallic paint.

With the paint color he wanted not available, Lotko delayed his purchase long enough to learn that Chevrolet would introduce the C7 as a 2014 model and therefore 2013 would be the final year for the C6. He assumed that Chevy would do something special to commemorate the end of the Corvette’s sixth generation but had no idea what it would be. When news broke that the company was going to offer a unique model, the 2013 427 Convertible, he was very grateful that he had held off buying a 2012 Grand Sport. He quickly made up his mind that he’d buy a 427 Convertible fitted with the 60th Anniversary Design Package and have the Callaway SC652 package installed.

By the time the 427 Convertible was announced, Lotko had been planning the purchase of a new Corvette for well over a year. That head start meant he was ready to pull the trigger the moment Chevrolet’s purchasing system would allow an order to be placed, and he did exactly that at David McDermott Chevrolet in East Haven, Connecticut. Not coincidentally, McDermott is an authorized Callaway dealer.

In addition to the optional 60th Anniversary Design Package, Lotko ordered the 1SC Premium Equipment Group (dual-zone climate control, premium Bose audio system, heated seats, etc.), the 60th Anniversary Stripe Package and the Corvette Engine Build Experience. As the name implies, the Corvette Engine Build Experience allows buyers to go to GM’s Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan and actually participate in the assembly of their LS7 or LS9 engine under the supervision of experienced technicians. Last year, only 16 people bought this option (about the same number are expected to go for it this year), undoubtedly due in part to its $5,800 price tag, but for Lotko it was well worth the cost. “The engine build experience was fabulous,” he recounts. “It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I can’t thank Don Henley, the GM tech who guided me through the build, enough.”

Immediately after the car was delivered to David McDermott Chevrolet, it was transported to Callaway’s facility in Old Lyme. Like so many others who turn to Callaway, Lotko appreciates the strong ties the company has had with Chevrolet for more than a quarter century. Callaway Cars is a bona-fide manufacturer, not just a tuner, and it enjoys the distinction of being the only company outside GM entrusted with its own regular-production option Corvette models: the RPO B2K twin-turbo Corvettes built from 1987-91 and the 2012 B2K supercharged Corvettes. As a result of this unique relationship with Chevrolet, Callaway Corvettes have special status in the collector world.

Callaway’s $24,695 SC652 package was designed initially for the Z06’s 7.0-liter LS7 V8, but since the 427 Convertible has the same engine, the company is perfectly happy to create SC652 427 Convertibles, too. The build includes the installation of an Eaton Roots-style TVS2300 supercharger on the factory long-block assembly. A Callaway-designed liquid-to-air intercooler that’s integrated into the intake manifold base helps cool the compressed charge. While the LS7’s internal hardware remains stock, a host of other engine parts get replaced to take full advantage of the supercharger. New bits include high-volume fuel injectors and fuel pump and Callaway’s Honker high-flow intake system and Double-D stainless-steel exhaust. The result, as the name implies, is 652 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 620 lbs-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. These numbers surpass those of the ZR1’s supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V8, which generates 638 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 604 lbs-ft of torque at 3,800.

In addition to the performance modifications, the SC652 package features a number of cosmetic changes. These include a carbon-fiber PowerBulge hood that provides clearance for the supercharger/intercooler assembly, carbon-fiber injector covers, anodized aluminum door-sill panels and Callaway-embroidered floor mats and badging.

Beyond the standard components in the SC652 package, buyers can choose from a fairly lengthy list of optional equipment that includes both performance and appearance upgrades. And within certain limitations, Callaway will accommodate special customer requests to create bespoke components. After scanning the option list, Lotko went with a C16 hood instead of the PowerBulge (with the 60th Anniversary stripes reproduced, naturally), a short-throw shifter, an exhaust tip slat trim package and the center console upgrade package, as well as an embroidered car cover and the extended powertrain service contract. He then went a few steps further and had Callaway install an embossed emergency brake handle, a custom-designed leather steering wheel with carbon-fiber spokes and a custom center console with stripes to match the car’s exterior and convertible top. “The steering wheel and center console are designs I came up with and worked on with Callaway to make a reality,” Lotko says with obvious pride.

Lotko and his wife, Tiffany, took delivery of their very special Corvette on June 30th, exactly 59 years to the day after the very first Corvette rolled off its assembly line in Flint, Michigan. Theirs is the first 2013 Callaway produced, and to say they love it is an understatement of epic proportions. Fortunately, this unique car is not going to be placed on a pedestal and worshiped as an object d’art. “It is my firm belief that cars are meant to be driven and enjoyed,” Lotko opines. “I do take impeccable care of them but I also do drive them.” The Corvette’s odometer confirms this, showing a little over 2,000 miles racked up in the car’s first two months.

Those 2,000-plus miles were, according to Lotko, “absolutely exhilarating.” That’s no surprise, given the engine’s massive power and torque. According to Callaway, an SC652-equipped Z06 accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and covers the standing quarter in 10.8 seconds at 127 mph. Chevy says the ZR1 hits 60 mph 3.4 seconds and records an 11.3-second quarter-mile time at 131 mph. Since the steel-framed 427 Convertible weighs roughly 150 pounds more than an aluminum-framed Z06, Lotko’s SC652 is a few ticks slower than its Callaway coupe sibling in terms of acceleration, but just a few.

Because of its outstanding performance, unique combination of parts and drop-top gorgeous looks, this Corvette is unquestionably a keeper, says Lotko. Given that he still has his very first car—a ’72 Chevelle SS that he bought when he was 15—we have no doubt he really means it. Says Lotko, “Now I have three keepers: the ’72 SS Chevelle, the first 2013 Callaway SC652 427 Convertible 60th Anniversary Corvette and my wife, because without her support and encouragement none of this would have happened.”