The National Corvette Museum is known as the world’s single largest repository of all that is of significance, in regards to the Corvette. First opened in 1994, the Corvette Museum has welcomed an untold number of visitors and continues to draw significant fanfare on an annual basis.
After more than two and a half decades in operation, the Corvette Museum itself carries quite a rich history. While some of the details regarding this history are widely known, others are not.
The following are 5 lesser-known facts about the Corvette Museum.
The Idea of Terry McManmon
Surprisingly, few Corvette enthusiasts have any notion as to where the idea for the Corvette Museum originated. Corvette enthusiast extraordinaire, Terry McManmon, is actually credited with presenting the idea of a singular Corvette “common library or archive”, at the National Corvette Restorers Society convention in 1984.
While this notion became an instant hit with others at the convention, garnering funding for such a project proved to be a sizable task. The formation of a “not-for-profit” organization was seen as the only way forward, in a bid to raise necessary money to begin construction.
A Surprise Emblem
Much speculation exists as to where the NCM’s emblem originated. The emblem itself is reminiscent of Corvette badging from early in the vehicle’s tenure but is truly a design all its own. In truth, the NCM emblem was pulled from a file of unused Chevrolet artwork from the 1950s.
As it turns out, the “unused” emblem had been prepared by none other than famed Corvette design team member, Larry Shinoda. This emblem was eventually adopted by the National Corvette Restorers Society, before assuming its current role as the NCM’s official logo.
On November 2, 1990, the NCM Annex opened its doors. The Annex served as a merchandise storefront, and museum offshoot. Time was growing near for the official groundbreaking of the NCM, and the National Corvette Restorers Society was looking for a way to announce their presence to the city of Bowling Green, KY.
At the Annex’s grand opening, several Corvette luminaries spoke of the perceived value that a Corvette-related museum would hold. One such speaker was Zora Arkus-Duntov, the “Godfather” of the Corvette.
The Corvette Dozer
In a bid to drum up enough enthusiasm to validate the Corvette Museum’s construction, project PR manager Dan Gale, masterminded a rather impressive publicity stunt. After receiving word that a Chevrolet press show was to be held at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, Gale orchestrated a mock Corvette Museum “groundbreaking” ceremony, even though funding for the project had yet to materialize.
At the ceremony, an elderly Zora Arkus-Duntov manned the controls of a bulldozer, which had been outfitted with hand-painted Corvette cutouts. Oddly enough, this ceremony did not even take place at the site where the museum would later be built. In fact, a Wendy’s restaurant was built at this site a short time later.
Local Banks Floated The Museum A Loan
Despite an exhaustive effort to raise the funds necessary to build the Corvette Museum, cash flow remained in short supply. However, an opportunistically timed financial impact study pertaining to the proposed project would eventually turn the tides. After an early 1990’s report indicated that the museum could indeed prove profitable, several Bowling Green banks came together to provide a 6.6 million dollar loan to financially back the National Corvette Restorers Society’s efforts.
With funding finally secured, construction began in 1993. At last, the National Corvette Museum opened its doors on September 2, 1994. Ironically, this date fell nearly 10 years to the day from Terry McManmon’s initial proposal, which proved to be the catalyst for the NCM as we know it today.