On December 11th, 2021, an EF3 tornado touched down and caused unimaginable devastation to the state of Kentucky. The tornado, which reportedly measured 3/4 of a mile across at its widest, traveled across some 220 miles of the state before it finally dissipated. In its wake, it left 76 people dead, countless more injured and caused approximately $18 BILLION dollars worth of damage to homes, businesses, and cities across the Bluegrass state, with much of that damage in Mayfield and Bowling Green, Kentucky. TO BE CLEAR – the story that follows in this article is incidental compared to the devastation felt by so many. We also want to acknowledge everyone who has stepped up across the state to provide aid, shelter, or any other form of relief to the millions that were impacted by this horrible storm. We cannot wrap our heads around the loss that so many experienced, and we want to convey our most heartfelt regret for your loss.
The same tornado that ravaged so much of the state also came into direct contact with the Corvette Assembly Plant, the National Corvette Museum and the NCM Motorsports Park, all of which are located off of Route 65 at Exit 28 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. As the people of Bowling Green began their recovery efforts in the hours, days, and weeks that followed this horrific storm, the extent of the damage became more commonly known. For its own part, the National Corvette Museum appeared to have sustained only minor damage, while the plant and the race track were impacted more severely. It was also reported that, as GM began clean-up of the Assembly Plant that an estimated 115-122 new Corvettes, many of which were still inside the plant at the time of the storm, were to be crushed due to damage each car sustained during the storm.
The decision was made to destroy these cars – rather than attempt to repair them – given the severity of the damage many of these cars encountered. The company’s concern was that these cars may have defects that would be undetectable until after they were turned out and released to the public. As a result, each of these cars was marked for destruction. The would-be owners of each were contacted and were instructed that new orders would be put back into the Corvette plant’s production cycle. Factory staff continue to inspect several of the completed cars at the time of this publication in an effort to ensure that each is okay to be delivered to its prospective future owner.
Of the cars that were adversely impacted by the storm, GM’s decision to destroy the cars was not an easy one. Production of the eighth generation Corvette has been impacted repeatedly since its introduction in 2020. Production was first delayed due to union disputes, then because of the original COVID surge in March 2020, then again in 2021 due to transmission and technology shortages, and now due to a natural disaster the likes of which has never before been experienced in the state of Kentucky.
“All customer vehicles coming off of the line after the downtime caused by December’s storm meet the high level of quality our customers expect,” a representative for Chevrolet stated on Thursday. “Vehicles and vehicle parts in the plant that were damaged by the storm are being scrapped and will not be used in production.”
“If a customer’s order was impacted by the storm, the customer will be contacted by their dealer and their order will be prioritized and re-sequenced back into production, with an expected production date as quickly as possible.”
For those of you directly impacted by this situation, we encourage you to be patient. While we recognize the frustration that is being experienced by some as they learn that production of their new car has been further delayed (keep in mind that some would-be C8 owners have been impacted repeatedly because of the aforementioned production delays), we also want to acknowledge again all the men and women of the Bowling Green (and surrounding) areas that are experiencing personal loss of a magnitude far greater than anything experienced by someone who’s Corvette owner was impacted because of this terrible disaster.
For anyone who was hopeful that they might be able to obtain a discounted C8 – either with a salvage or flood damage title (or similar) – you are out of luck. None of the 120+ Corvettes headed to the crusher will be spared General Motors has stripped any/all usable parts off the cars with the intent of keeping that hardware available for surplus stock and/or recycling what hardware it can to reduce on the loss experienced by the company. That said, the structural components of each car – from the frame to any other chassis components, will be crushed, melted down, ad re-purposed at some later date.
Considering the delays already experienced by the Corvette plant prior to this storm, the additional setbacks – combined with the need to re-build more than 120 cars that had already been completed – will add to the strain already being experienced by the men and women who work there. Consider this before calling your local Chevrolet dealership to lodge a complaint about the status of your order. For those of you who are being patient – THANK YOU. As Bowling Green, and indeed all of Kentucky continues to recover, we believe that the Corvette community will be front and center trying to raise money, off support, and to find unique ways to revitalize a community that so desperately needs it.