By: Andrew Thurlow
April 25, 2014
General Motors Co. and officials with the National Corvette Museum will meet in May to determine which of eight Corvettes damaged after plunging into a major sinkhole on Feb. 12 are fit to be restored.
The museum, which plans to keep the damaged Corvettes on display through the summer, may decide to leave some unrepaired as part of a permanent display, GM spokesman Monte Doran said.
“That’s something that we need to discuss further with the museum,” Doran said.
On April 9 the last Corvette, a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06, was removed from the sinkhole at the museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. “It is, by far, the most heavily damaged of all eight,” the museum said in a statement.
Two of the damaged vehicles -- a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder and a 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil -- were on loan from Detroit-based General Motors. The other vehicles, owned by the museum, included a 1962 black Corvette; 1984 PPG Pace Car; 1992 white 1-millionth Corvette; 1993 40th anniversary Corvette; the 2009 1.5-millionth Corvette and the Z06.
Kevin and Linda Helmintoller of Land O’Lakes, Fla., donated the Mallett Hammer to the museum in December. Kevin Helmintoller was on hand to see the recovery of what remained.
“I expected bad, but it's 100 times worse,” he said in a blog updated posted by the museum. “It looks like a piece of tin foil... and it had a roll cage in it. It makes all the other cars look like they're brand new.”
The original plan was to restore all eight vehicles, Doran said. But because of severe damage to some of the Corvettes, and feedback received from Corvette enthusiasts, the museum is exploring other options, such as preserving a portion of the sinkhole.
A display focusing on the Sinkhole event is now open in the building’s exhibit hall.
“Current plans are to keep the cars on display as they are so that guests through the summer and especially the thousands attending our 20th Anniversary Celebration will have a chance to see the cars and witness the sinkhole,” Wendell Strode, executive director of the museum, said in a statement.
Doran said representatives from GM design, marketing and engineering who have built show cars are expected to attend the meeting and determine the “best way to fix” the cars.
“Our ultimate goal is to help the museum in any we can because they are a charitable nonprofit organization that is not owned by Chevrolet or GM,” Doran said.
The museum’s sinkhole recovery and remediation team, along with a group of architects and geologists from Western Kentucky University, met last week to discuss construction plans to rebuild the floor where the sinkhole occurred.
The team is still compiling data but early findings indicate the sinkhole was caused by the collapse of a portion of a cave roof. “Several things could have caused this, including the extra weight from clay soils above the roof becoming saturated from heavy rain,” the museum said in a statement.
After the accident, the museum has received $75,000 in donations, said Katie Frassinelli, marketing and communications manager at the museum.
“We even have a jar of dirt that fell off of the 1992 1-millionth Corvette when it was pulled out,” she said. It’s being auctioned to raise funds, she said, and “it’s up to $540.”