Callaway's building a Silverado

Reeves Callaway makes the point that his company's Silverado program is extremely new by saying, "Anything I may have said in this conversation may not be true, 'cause I don't know what I'm talking about yet." Modest and super-nice, he's emphasizing that our recent phone chat covering the details of Callaway Cars' move into the realm of pickup trucks is about a project that's still in its early stages of execution.

"We've got an outline of what we would like to do, now the task is do it, test it," Callaway says. Having made its name building highly-modified Corvettes since the 1980s, Callaway Cars' diverse endeavors have stretched from turbocharger kits for BMWs and Alfa Romeos to building and supporting the Corvette Z06.Rs that race in the FIA GT3 European Championship Series, so a pickup truck shouldn't be all that shocking.

"We've got all of the infrastructure in place to service the Corvette and Camaro," Callaway explains, "we figured it's logical to do a pickup truck too, if for no other reason than the powertrain is already done. We have loads of experience with that." While the tuning is obviously different between the V8s in the Corvette and the Silverado, they use essentially the same engine.

Callaway explains the development program has two main objectives. First, "make the power, which we looked at as the easier of the two." Second, and perhaps more challenging, Callaway wants to do "something that nobody really has ever done, in my experience with a pickup truck, and that is [to] make it handle like a Corvette." This is where you roll your eyes and say, "how are they gonna pull that off." Follow the jump and keep reading to find out.

Callaway Corvette Z06R GT3 Series 2The guys that build the Corvette race cars in Callaway's Leingarten, Germany operation will be tasked with making the Silverado dance. "We have assembled a really world class bunch of engineers who are concerned with making the car handle, so I think we're quite good at that," Callaway confidently explains. "We're going to take all those guys who have won the FIA championship for the past four years and assign them the task of making the truck handle like a BMW or like a Corvette or like a Porsche."

While many of the details are still up in the air as development progresses, we caught Reeves accruing evaluation miles on a brand-new 2011 Silverado, so there are some certainties. "It will be supercharged and powerful, it will have a great-looking set of wheels and tires, and it will be positioned at the right ride height to indicate that it's something special."

None of these goals are impossible if you're building $200,000 half-ton pickups, but that's not the plan. "You'd probably sell five of those," says Callway. "We all know the pickup truck market is even more price-sensitive than the Corvette and Camaro market, so this is going to have to be a menu-driven program." Going a-la-carte allows buyers to pick and choose the regular production options that are most important to them. If it's speed, that's one checkbox, handling is another, and the whole shooting match will likely run at similar levels to what the Callaway supercharger options cost on Corvettes and Camaros, which would put the total cost in the $50,000 arena; not unheard of for some current trucks.

Callaway supercharged V8Why would a company known for its sports and racing cars move into pickup trucks, that most utilitarian of segments? "The dealers were asking for it," Callaway says, and pickup trucks are both huge sellers and a common canvas for customization. "We have a nice little system set up and we were just looking for more product to put through, and realizing that the truck is such a popular platform, why not do it?"

That's got to be comforting news for the small network of Callaway dealers that look out their showroom windows upon handfuls of Corvettes and Camaros and rows and rows of pickups. "I'm perfectly willing to develop our version of the truck and then leave it to our dealers to drive the sales," Callaway tells us.

Familiarity with the powertrain and long-running status as a top-notch low-volume manufacturer means that Callaway isn't likely to fumble the execution on its super-Silverado. We've respectfully asked for an opportunity to drive one of the mules when possible, and that opportunity will be forthcoming. In the meantime, Callaway says that other than telling dealers a truck is coming, the schedule is a little loose. "We're looking forward to having it done by SEMA time, whether that means it'll be on display at SEMA or not, I don't know." Whenever it shows up, one thing is certain: the Callaway Silverado will be fully capable of announcing its presence with a V8 roar and neck-straining cornering.