National Corvette Museum Loses Eight to Sinkhole


The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, lost eight of its numbers to a 40-foot sinkhole. At 5:44 a.m. motion detectors were tripped at the facility and when emergency personal arrived on scene the sinkhole had already wrought its damage. The sinkhole is reported to be between 25 and 30 feet deep.

With eight Vettes sitting in the sinkhole with varying degrees of damage, rescue personnel allowed museum staff to remove from proximity of the sinkhole the remaining cars on display, including a 1983 prototype.

The National Corvette Museum with the Sky Dome on the left.

The sinkhole struck within the walls of one of the prime exhibit areas, in a building called the Sky Dome. It is a circular building with a glass domed ceiling that rises 100-feet into the air from a 140-foot circumference. The museum, which some describe as the “Corvette Mecca” of the world, is located in Bowling Green, less than a mile from the Vette factory. Each year around 150,000 people make their way to the museum to admire the more than 80 cars on display.

Of the eight Vettes that suffered damage, six had been donated to the museum by private owners, and two were on loan from General Motors. The six museum cars included:

A 1962 Black Vette.
A 1984 pace car from the IndyCar World Series.
A 2001 Mallet Hammer Z06.
A 1993 40th anniversary ruby red Vette.
The one millionth Vette made.
The one and a half millionth Vette made.

The two Vettes on long term loan from General Motors were of particular interest and included:

The original “Blue Devil” show car, a 2009 ZR-1.
A 1993 ZR-1 Spyder concept car.

Although neither of the General Motors loan cars were daily drivers, the ’93 was a static display, they were extremely valuable in their own right, estimates put them at a $1 million each.

A “Blue Devil”

National Corvette Museum personnel have informed General Motors and the six private donors of the eight cars lost to the sinkhole. The museum will remain open to the public with the exception of the Sky Dome. It will remain closed while engineers determine whether there is any structural damage. Depending on that assessment a new plan will be implemented to get the Sky Dome back into operation. At present it looks as though there are no other potential sinkholes in the offing.

The Corvette, which has made a strong comeback in recent years, has a strong Detroit pedigree. If there is one car that survives today amongst the Detroit Three that embodies America’s love for the open road and big horsepower, it may be the venerable Vette. As soon as the news spread, die-hard fans began to offer their support in recovering and reconditioning the damaged vehicles. A tremendous amount of nostalgia is wrapped up in Vettes of yesteryear and many want to see the vehicles restored to museum quality to preserve a piece of American automotive history.

Sinkholes are a rare occurrence and even though the National Corvette Museum has lost eight cars to a freak sinkhole in Bowling Green, Kentucky, museum staff are doing everything in their power to return the Sky Dome to its original state.

By Scott Wilson


Detroit Free Press
LA Times

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