• Eight Corvettes damaged in sinkhole
  • Two damaged Vettes on loan from GM
  • Restoration assistance from GM Design

A sinkhole opened up beneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., last week, claiming eight Corvettes on display as it caused the building's floor to collapse. Fortunately, the disaster occurred in the early morning hours while the museum was closed, so no one was hurt. The following day, Chevrolet announced it would assist the nonprofit museum in restoring the damaged vehicles, some of which are significant to the history of the iconic American sports car.

Corvettes claimed by the sinkhole include a black 1962 model, a 1984 PPG pace car, a white 1992 model that was the 1-millionth Corvette ever built, a 1993 40th Anniversary edition, a 1993 ZR1 Spyder on loan from General Motors, a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06, a 2009 ZR1 also on loan from GM and a 2009 model that was the 1.5-millionth Corvette ever built. Neither the museum nor Chevy provided an estimated value for the damaged cars.

Of course, some significant automobiles are worth more than their book value. Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president of global product development, explained the company's motivation for assisting the museum with restoration.

"There can only be one 1-millionth Corvette ever built," Reuss said. "We want to ensure as many of the damaged cars are restored as possible so fans from around the world can enjoy them."

Chevrolet will ship the damaged vehicles to its Mechanical Assembly facility where Ed Welburn, vice president of GM global design, will oversee restoration. The specialty shop, which dates back to the 1930s, is responsible for maintaining vehicles in GM's Heritage Collection and its historic concept cars.

The 115,000-square-foot National Corvette Museum typically displays about 80 vehicles, including production models, one-off examples and prototypes. It draws about 150,000 visitors per year and depends on donations for its funding. The sinkhole collapsed a section called the Skydome, a separate structure attached to the main museum building. That part remains closed, but the rest of the museum has already reopened to visitors.

What it means to you: Chevrolet will pitch in to help the National Corvette Museum by restoring eight Vettes damaged by a sinkhole there. You can help, too, with a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit museum on its website.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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