When we talked with Pete Callaway, general manager of Callaway Cars West, about their new C19 sport truck lineup, we brought up the word "tuner." He immediately responded, "Tuner is a bad word around here. We engineer and produce performance vehicles, we don't simply bolt on some parts and call it done." That philosophy should be embraced by custom truck and performance enthusiasts who are tired of compromising their desire to go fast with poor drivability, or better handling with poor ride quality. After a week-long test of Callaway's Silverado Sport Truck SC540, we understand why Pete wanted to clear the air about Callaway not being a tuner company, as this truck was purpose-built to do all things at a high level.

Our 2011 Silverado Crew Cab tester was equipped with the optional 6.2L LS3-based high-output V-8, making 403 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers aren't muscle truck impressive, but with the demise of the Silverado SS, F-150 Lightning, and Ram SRT10, those stats are near the top of the factory pickup heap. Thankfully, Callaway used its engineering prowess and added a complementary mixture of parts bringing the output north of 540 hp. The first of those parts is an Eaton-sourced 1900 TVS supercharger with integrated intercooler, air-to-water heat exchanger, high-flow fuel injectors, and air intake tube. With power and drivability in mind, the engineers at Callaway created a custom ECU tune with Callaway-specific transmission shift points. Callaway's tune also maximizes power when needed while keeping the truck under the radar when cruising around town. We use "under the radar" loosely, as the unique and bellowing Callaway after-cat exhaust's note is as addicting as margaritas during happy hour. Apply your right foot deep into the go-pedal and all 540 hp roar to life, while the rear tires try to hold on only giving way to a beautiful cloud of smoke. We couldn't get enough of the instant boost and huge power produced by the Callaway SC540, and we found ourselves power drifting around corners just because it was so glorious. Adding good looks to the 6.2L, real carbon-fiber coil pack covers are in place, and a sequentially numbered badge is found on the radiator shroud.

Power is fun, but if you can only go fast in a straight line, the novelty will eventually wear off. Using more than 25 years of engineering and racing heritage, the Callaway team created a Level 2 performance suspension package that lowers the truck 2 inches up front and roughly 4½ inches out back. Using custom dampers, the ride is firm without being harsh, and handling has been greatly improved with the addition of a larger front sway bar and new rear bar. It's difficult to find a good balance of ride and handling, yet the Callaway SC540 would be a comfortable cruiser to Vegas, while feeling at home on a high desert canyon road. Addressing the engine and suspension, Callaway also installed its high-end Le Mans GT big brake package, which includes two-piece 15-inch rotors and six-piston calipers. During testing, the engineers found the aluminum caliper with steel retaining bolts to handle high-heat situations better, because once the aluminum tried to expand during a specific heat range, the steel bolts stayed in a solid state and provided superior stopping power. As a $9,820 option, the Le Mans GT package isn't cheap, but given the Silverado's 118-foot 60-0-mph stopping distance, the brakes are world-class.