We all know the Corvette as one of the icons of American motoring so much to the point that it doesn’t evened to be prefaced with Chevrolet and that it is just “Corvette”. While on our cross country jaunt, @Trekchick and I stopped and stayed with @garyskr and he took us on a tour of his part of Kentucky which included Bowling Green. Most automotive buffs know that Bowling Green is the home of the Corvette factory since it moved from St. Louis in the early 1980’s. Unfortunately this is the one time of year (early July) that the plant is closed so there were no tours of the facility but we were able to do tour the next best thing, we were able to tour the National Corvette Museum.
The museum is home to many Corvettes that are owned not only by the museum but also many that are either on loan from Corvette enthusiasts and also some from General Motors. In meeting and talking to people including employees of the museum, you can tell the love that people have for these machines and the attendance showed. Where the Corvette earned it’s place in automotive history by being an obtainable sports car for the average person. Not unlike a Porsche or Ferrari, Corvettes also have an extensive race heritage and also these owners, like the other two, tend to have had more than one of these cars and many over the years. Maybe the only U.S. model that is close to a similar following would be the Jeep.
When you pull into the museum, the closest two dozen or so parking spots are reserved for Corvettes and even at an hour before closing, there were at least ten Vette’s proudly displayed by their owners. When we walked into the museum, we saw seven new 2014 Corvettes that were roped off that were getting ready for the Museum Delivery program, where a new buyer can choose the option on not picking up their new Corvette at a dealership but at the museum, a procedure not too different from a European Delivery on a MB/BMW/Porsche/Volvo but where the difference is the E.D. is usually a 7% discount off of MSRP including airfare and lodging, the Corvette program (option code R8C) is a $990 up charge and you still have to make your own travel and lodging accommodations. But considering that the do 60 of these deliveries a week, Corvette owners don’t seem to mind.
The museum lay out is like most museums, a maze. You start off with some vintage race cars and then you weave through to some of the significant Corvettes over the years including some one off models, the record setting Nurburgring C6, some design prototypes and many fun facts for each on display including one of the models that was used for crash test evaluation. Speaking of crash testing..did ya hear the one about the sinkhole that ate EIGHT vintage Corvettes? Well, those familiar with these parts know that the region is strewn with under ground mines and sink holes and unfortunately one of those sinkholes was right under one of the main parts of the museum. At 5:39 AM on February 12th this year, it decided to makes itself known by opening up and eating the floor and eight of the cars on display. A few of the cars destroyed included were a Corvette Mallet, which took the worst hit and took 8 weeks to recover due to the need to stabilize the structure, the 1,000,000th and 1,500,000th Vettes of the production line, a special 1962 Tuxedo Black, a 1993 40th Anniversary model and the last to fall in and the first out with least amount of damage, one of the fastest production Corvettes every produced the 2009 Blue Devil.
The sink hole is amazing and has recently overshadowed the cars as the main attraction at the museum. The excitement has cause some discontent ion between members and staff as to what to do with it as the time goes on. Do they not fill it? Do they fill it and return the room to it’s original form like nothing happened? The same with the cars, many have been destroyed and some are restorable..but can they be restored with OEM parts and will aftermarket suffice and what is bringing them to original state cost both financially and historically? Personally I would leave them as they are..I love it with the dirt on them, but thats just me…and I thought they are now part of history. These cars are now in their own room along with the “survivors” of the catastrophe including the only 1983 Corvette in existence. I will add like any good museum (or Disney ride) the tour ends up in the gift shop where you can buy almost any piece of Corvette nostalgia or memorabilia you can think of.
Yo do not have to be a Corvette fan to appreciate the significance of this American machinery and this museum. If you are in the Nashville/Bowling Green region, you owe it to yourself to visit this museum. The Corvette Museum technically has no affiliation with the Bowling Green factory or General Motors but it does work hand in hand with both entities.
Edited by Philpug - 7/9/14 at 9:34am