GM unveils restored 1 millionth Corvette

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

The 1 millionth Chevrolet Corvette ever produced has been restored to its original glory more than a year and a half after plummeting into a sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.

General Motors Co. on Thursday unveiled the white 1992 convertible at the Bowling Green museum, where it returns as part of a permanent exhibit. The restoration took more than four months and 1,200 man-hours, according to the Detroit-based automaker.

“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, in a statement.

The car was heavily damaged on Feb. 12, 2014, when it and seven other rare Corvettes tumbled into a sinkhole that opened beneath the museum’s Skydome area.

The milestone sports car is the second sinkhole-damaged Corvette that the company has restored. The first was a 2009 Corvette ZR1 prototype known as the Blue Devil. The National Corvette Museum will oversee the restoration of a third car, a 1962 Corvette.

The other five Corvettes will remain in their as-recovered state to preserve the historical significance of the cars. They will become part of a future sinkhole-themed display at the museum.

Besides being the 1 millionth Corvette, officials said the car was particularly unique because hundreds of employees who assembled the vehicle signed its components.

“I look at it and I think about how the car was assembled, and people signing it during the assembly process,” Welburn said earlier this year at the company’s Warren Tech Center, where the restoration took place. “It’s not like they just finished the car and signed the hood. They were signing it as it was being assembled. That’s cool.”

Only three signed components couldn’t be saved, but were reproduced in an attempt to keep the car historically accurate down to the last signature. For two components, the team had the autographs scanned, reproduced as transfers and placed on the replacement parts. However, the other component was too damaged to save or even accurately scan, so the team worked with the museum to secure a new signature of the employee.

Among the parts replaced were the hood, front fascia and the lower panels between the front wheels and doors, as well as a number of ancillary supporting components under the hood. The replacements came from a vehicle of the same vintage and color, ensuring authenticity of the parts and materials involved with the restoration.

The other sinkhole-damaged Corvettes include a 1984 PPG Pace Car; 1993 40th-Anniversary Ruby Red Corvette; 1993 ZR-1 Spyder; 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette; and 2009 1.5-millionth Corvette.

GM originally said it would try to restore all eight Corvettes that fell into the 45-foot wide and 60-foot long hole. But museum officials later determined only three could be restored.

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