After a giant sinkhole opened beneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Chevrolet promised to repair a number of irreplaceable Corvettes that were damaged therein. One of the key vehicles included was a One-Millionth Commemorative, white 1992 Corvette convertible – white with red interior.
After more than four-months and over 1,200-man hours, the painstaking feat of expert craftsmanship and skilled restoration is complete. The car will now be returned to the permanent exhibit where it will join the extensive collection of Corvettes currently on display. “We felt it was important to restore this extremely significant car in Corvette’s long, storied history,” said Mark Reuss, General Motors executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “When we disassembled it, we found that each employee involved in building it had signed a part of the car, which was fantastic and moving to see. It brought the history to life, and reinforced the importance of the project.”
On February 12, 2014 a sinkhole unexpectedly opened up underneath the Skydome area of the National Corvette Museum. The Bowling Green area of Kentucky is known for its many underground caverns and the sinkholes that result from them. Seven other Corvettes were damaged in addition to the One-Millionth Commemorative Corvette. Chevrolet pledged to restore it and several other cars damaged in the tragedy.
Shortly after the car was recovered from the sinkhole rubble, it was moved from the museum property to the Technical Center Campus in Warren, Michigan for the monumental expert restoration. Approximately 30 skilled craftsmen and technicians from GM’s Mechanical Assembly Group and Service Operations Division gathered at the General Motors Design Center on the campus. The Mechanical Assembly and Fabrication Shops at GM Design are responsible for building concept vehicles and maintaining GM’s historical vehicles. “As the one and only 1 millionth Corvette, its preservation was important to us as the designers of the vehicle – and as Corvette enthusiasts,” said Ed Welburn, vice president of GM Global Design. “The damage was significant in many ways; however we have one of the most highly skilled specialty shops and team of people in the industry, so they were fully prepared to take on the challenge.”
Despite extensive damage, the experienced team (represented by United Auto Worker’s locals 160 and 1869) vowed to do everything within their power to restore every detail of the car to its original glory. This would prove to be quite a challenge, indeed. Underneath the skin of the car the One-Millionth Corvette carried the personal signatures of the Bowling Green Assembly Plant workers who built the car. “We went to great lengths to preserve every autograph,” said David Bolognino, director of GM Global Design Fabrication Operations. “In the end, we saved every one of them, which was an unexpected and important element to the restoration.” Only two autographed components had to be replaced so the team had the signatures scanned and reproduced as transfers and placed on the replacement parts. One replacement part lacked a single signature from a female employee named Angela Lamb. Chevy worked with the Corvette Museum to secure a new signature from Lamb on the replacement part so that the car would be historically intact, right down to the last signature.