Crews begin recovery of Corvettes swallowed by a sinkhole

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General Motors Co. Crews have begun rescuing cars swallowed by a sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky.

Two of the eight General Motors Co. Chevrolet Corvettes swallowed Feb. 12 by a sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., were lifted out of the hole on March 3 and placed back in the showroom.

As a crowd of spectators cheered and thousands of viewers watched online, the 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil -- one of two cars on loan from General Motors -- and the 1993 Ruby Red 40th anniversary edition were lifted by a crane and placed at ground level.

The Blue Devil, which appears to have endured minor damage during its nearly 30-foot plunge, was driven about 20 feet to the museum's doorway, said Katie Frassinelli, a museum spokeswoman.

"The 'Blue Devil' is in remarkable shape," said John Spencer, manufacturing integration manager for Corvette in a news release. "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 6.2L LS9 V-8. If you fixed that, you could drive the ZR-1 back to Detroit."

Video of the retrieval showed that the Ruby Red 40th anniversary edition sustained broken windows and severe damage to its front and rear.

A black 1962 model is scheduled to be retrieved March 4, but will be much "trickier" as a five-ton slab of concrete rests on the front of the vehicle, the museum said.

Two cranes will be used to simultaneously lift the car and the concrete, the museum said.

The recovered cars will be shipped to GM's Mechanical Assembly facility, a small specialty shop within General Motors Design in Warren, Mich., where the experts will determine the best restoration approach. Mechanical Assembly has been part of GM Design since the 1930s, and today maintains and restores many of the vehicles in the GM Heritage Collection and GM's historic concept cars.

Other Corvettes to be retrieved are a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, the other car on loan from GM; a 1984 PPG pace car; the 1-millionth Corvette, built in 1992; a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06; and the 2009 1.5-millionth Corvette.

Recovery of the vehicles is expected to take through Aug. 3, Frassinelli said.

The museum plans to display each vehicle after it is recovered until all eight are taken together to a small shop within GM Design in suburban Detroit for restoration.

Webcams are positioned around the sinkhole and pictures are available on the museum's Web site.

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