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Illustrated Corvette Series - No. 88 1991 Corvette - "'60s Performance, '90s Style"
Here's a shocker for you. While the ZR-1 was getting all of the attention, Dave McClellan and his team of engineers were quietly raising the performance bar. The stock 1991 Corvette could rip off a 0-to-60 time of just 5.3-seconds. That's quicker that a '69 427/435 big-block Corvette!
The country was in the doldrums in 1991. Recession, inflation, and federal deficits had a damper on the economy. SUVs hadn't arrived yet and very few people were interested in performance cars. Despite the bad mood of the economy, the Corvette was running better than ever. Corvettes usually only make incremental improvements and 1991 was no exception.
The most obvious change for '91 was the first facelift since the C4 Corvette arrived in '84. The front and rear bumper covers were restyled, there were new front fender vents, and new turbine-styled wheels. The formerly black horizontal body molding was now body colored and the rear bumper cover was styled after the ZR-1.
Other minor details included the placement of the third brake light at the top of the rear bumper cover. The list price for the '91 coupe was $32,455, up only $476 from the '90 model. The roadster started at $38,770. Total production was only 20,639, down 3,007 units from the '90 model.
Interesting were happening under the hood for '91. Although the power rating hadn't changed, new low-pressure mufflers improved performance and made the car slightly quieter. There was a new finned power steering cooler and a "low oil" sensor pickup was added to the oil pan.
The famous Z51 performance suspension option was replaced with the new Z07 option. The new option offered all of the Z51 suspension parts, plus the old FX3 adjustable suspension option. However, the suspension settings were "firm-to-very firm," and it wasn't cheap. The Z07 cost $2,155. Only 773 cars were ordered with this option.
1991 was also the last year for the official Callaway conversion Corvettes. Callaway also built the 500th Callaway Corvette on September 26, 1991. The ZR-1 market was cooling off as well. Only 2,044 of the $67,000 beasts were built in '91. That down from the 3,049 made in 1990.
The '91 Corvette had come a long way from the dog-days of 1981. Corvettes were winning races, there were two exotic Corvettes offered, and performance was better than ever. And just over the horizon, a famous old gun was about to return, the LT1. - K. Scott Teeters
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lllustrated Corvette Series No. 89 - 1991 Callaway Speedster
"Going Out With A Bang!"
Reeves Callaway carved out an impressive spot in Corvette history. His Callaway Twin-Turbo (RPO B2K) had a five year run from 1987 to 1991. Chevrolet wanted to move the Corvette in a different direction, so Callaway decided to go out with a bang.
The Callaway Corvettes were as fast as nearly anything on the planet at twice the cost of a regular Corvette. Having the Callaway option on the Corvette order sheet was great, but with so much attention given to the ZR-1 and the new C5 being worked out, Chevrolet decided to end the run of turbo Corvettes.
Reeves unleashed a "Hail Mary" pass at the '91 Los Angeles Car Show with his final Twin-Turbo Corvette, the Callaway Speedster. The car was designed for Southern California where it almost never rains, so there was no hard top available. Between the speedster top, the body panels, racing wheels, and over-the-top paint, the car was in "super car" territory.
Since this was to be his last BK2 Corvette, more juice was needed. Compression was bumped from 7.5:1 to 8.2:1. Airflow was improved 190 percent with new hood scoops. But he biggest challenge was the additional set of injectors and computer management system. The net result was 450 horsepower and 600 lbs/ft torque. Plenty! To top it all off, the engine was emissions certified for California.
The Speedster's stunning looks almost made what was under the hood irrelevant. Reeves had designer Paul Deutschman use his existing Sledgehammer nose and side panels as a base for the new speedster design. The most complicated part was the structural integrity after cutting down the windshield. Chevrolet assisted calculating the resonate frequency of the windshield posts at half height. A thin steel band across the top edge of the glass ties the two a-pillars together. A .75--inch rubber lip along the top edge of the windshield kicks airflow up by 5-inches. The glass is from a Corvette convertible and was modified by Libby-Owens-Ford, the supplier for the solar reflective windshield on the ZR-1.
Callaway explored several very loud paint colors, but was happy to coordinate the $7,500 paint option with the $12,000 German-made Connolly leather interior and wool carpeting.
During the 5-year Callaway run, there were 445 B2K option cars built, but Callaway made 510 Twin-Turbo Corvettes. The cost of the total Speedster package was $113,500! With 0-to-60 times of 4.4-seconds and a top speed of 185 mph, just don't stick your head up. - K. Scott Teeters