“Shooting brake” may seem like a strange automotive term to anyone who grew up outside of Europe in the latter half of the 20th century. By definition a shooting brake is a dramatic redesign of a stately five-door station wagon that tends to sacrifice overall utility in the name of dashing style. But while Callaway Cars has chosen to apply the description to its new AeroWagen C7 conversion, this modern interpretation of the shooting brake manages the improbable feat of improving upon its base vehicle in every respect.
Partners in Style
Paul Deutschman, owner of Montreal-based Deutschman Design, is European trained and thus quite familiar with the history of the shooting-brake concept. He’s also no stranger to Callaway projects, having styled some of the tuner’s more notable Corvette-based vehicles—including the Sledgehammer, the C12 and the C16—over the years. Deutschman first penned the AeroWagen design in 2014, and Reeves Callaway promptly circulated the drawing to gauge the car’s appeal. Public reaction was almost uniformly positive, but Callaway Cars was busy at the time developing its line of C7 high-performance upgrades. The AeroWagen project was placed on temporary hold.
That changed in 2016, and Deutschman, along with Callaway’s Pat Hodgins, began to move forward on developing the manufacturing techniques required to build a complete AeroWagen hatch from lightweight carbon fiber. To ensure a perfect fit, the pair obtained factory hatch measurements and attachment-point locations from GM. Thanks to their efforts, the new panel will bolt directly onto any standard-production 2014-2018 Stingray, Grand Sport or Z06 coupe without modifications. It even uses all of the same factory brackets, struts, electrical connections and seals installed at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. Perhaps most impressive, the complete AeroWagen hatch is one pound lighter than the factory unit, all while purportedly offering more (Callaway doesn’t say how much more) vertical cargo space. It’s priced at $14,990 installed at an authorized Callaway dealer, which seems reasonable enough for so thorough a cosmetic transformation.
Our Torch Red Z06 automatic test car was additionally fitted with Callaway’s SC757 engine upgrade ($18,495), black-chrome wheels ($6,280) and “Double D” stainless-steel exhaust system ($2,999), which produces an authoritative rumble at idle but quiets down to a soft purr on the highway. It was the first AeroWagen built, in late 2016, and it has since been used extensively for testing and promotional purposes, appearing on the CNBC series “Jay Leno’s Garage” as well as in a gloriously burnout-filled commercial for Mothers Car Care Products.
We were introduced to the car at this year’s National Corvette Museum Birthday Bash in Bowling Green, where it had been trucked from California showing just over 2,900 miles on the clock. Throughout the event, crowds of Corvette enthusiasts crowded around the unique C7 in an attempt to suss out the precise nature of its body modifications. Many commented that the AeroWagen looks better in person than in photographs, and after studying it ourselves from a variety of angles, we tend to agree.
When Callaway Program Manager Chris Chessnoe invited us to drive the car back to our home base in Florida at the completion of the Bash, we didn’t hesitate to accept. The last supercharged Callaway C7 we’d experienced was an SC627 coupe that we drove from Tampa to Old Lyme, Connecticut in 2014. Given our positive experience with that car, we expected great things from the 757-hp AeroWagen.