3 Corvettes removed from museum sinkhole, 5 more on a later date

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Three of eight historic Corvettes that fell into a sinkhole under the National Corvette Museum last month are back on solid ground following delicate removal techniques on Monday and Tuesday.

“The recovery of the first three cars went flawlessly, and the cars are in remarkably good shape,” said John Spencer, manufacturing integration manager for Corvette. Spencer. “Unfortunately, the remaining five cars are either partially or totally covered in debris. We expect their recovery will be much more challenging, and the cars to be in much worse condition.”

1962_Chevrolet_CorvetteOn Tuesday, the 1962 Corvette was lifted out of the sinkhole nose first. The engineering team removed a four-post vehicle lift that had fallen on top of the Corvette, and installed anchors to stabilize the concrete slab against which the Corvette was pinned.

Despite landing tail-down in the debris, the 1962 Corvette sustained minimal damage. The rear end has only a minor crack in the fascia; the bumpers, taillamps, and license plate appear unscathed. The worst damage is an eight-inch split in the right front fender, and golf-ball-size hole where the front fascia was resting against the concrete.

On Monday, engineers successfully extracted the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 “Blue Devil” and a 1993 40th anniversary model Corvette.

Based on initial inspection, the ZR-1 sustained minimal damage, despite falling nearly 30 feet when the hole opened beneath an exhibit area on Feb. 12. The 40th Anniversary Corvette had significant cosmetic damage to the hood, fenders and window glass. However, there appeared to be limited mechanical damage.

“The 40th Anniversary looks much worse than it really is,” said Spencer. “Practically every body panel and piece of glass will need to be replaced. However, underneath the frame looks straight, the suspension seems to be intact, and the steering gear still works. It is definitely salvageable.”

The recovered cars will be shipped to a small specialty shop within General Motors Design in Warren, Mich., where the best restoration approach will be determined.