Officials at the National Corvette Museum got their first bits of good news as the first two cars extracted from the sinkhole at the site appeared to be in better shape than expected. In fact, one was even driven out of the building after being lifted out.
During the early morning hours of Feb. 12, a 30-foot deep sinkhole opened up underneath the museum’s SkyDome, swallowing up eight historic ’Vettes in the process. The museum is located in Bowling Green, Ky.
After making sure the area was safe, officials began the process of extracting the vehicles on Saturday with some test lifts. The first two vehicles – 1993 40th Anniversary Edition Corvette and the 2009 Corvette ZR-1 “Blue Devil” – came out yesterday.
GM’s design team will oversee the restoration of all eight vehicles. The ZR-1 appeared to sustain minimal damage after its nearly 30-foot fall. The “Blue Devil” started up and drove out of the museum under its own power.
“The ‘Blue Devil’ is in remarkable shape,” said John Spencer, manufacturing integration manager for Corvette. “Cosmetically, the carbon fiber running boards are shattered, there’s some minor paint damage, and a small crack in the windshield. Mechanically, the worst damage is a split in the oil-supply line for the 6.2-liter LS9 V-8. If you fixed that, you could drive the ZR-1 back to Detroit.”
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However, the 40th Anniversary Corvette was not so fortunate, as it sustained major damage to the hood, fenders and window glass. However, there appeared to be limited mechanical damage.
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“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.”
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The team plans to recover the 1962 this week. The recovered cars will be shipped to the Mechanical Assembly facility, a small specialty shop within General Motors Design in Warren, Mich., where the best restoration approach will be determined.