Unveiling Commemorates the 4th Anniversary of the Corvette Museum Sinkhole
On February 12, 2014, the National Corvette Museum fell prey to a major sinkhole which opened up in the skydome section of the facility. As the sinkhole’s floor splintered and collapsed, the sinkhole swallowed eight Corvettes – many of them priceless, one-of-a-kind examples of the famous sports car. In the weeks that followed, Corvette enthusiasts around the globe waited anxiously to see if any of the eight Corvettes could be recovered. Moreover, were any of the cars salvageable after falling more than 20 feet into the earth?
The answer was YES.
While the sinkhole initially left many people wondering about the museum’s future, the NCM opened their doors to the news media. They shared the entire process of recovering the eight fallen cars with an international audience that watched, captivated, as the cars were recovered and lifted by crane from the massive hole.
In the weeks that followed, the tragedy became a tourist attraction. People flocked to the museum in huge numbers to see the sinkhole and to glimpse the Corvettes as they were recovered from it.
In the years since the sinkhole occurred, the actual hole has been mostly filled back in, and structurally reinforced (along with much of the skydome’s floor and sub-structure) to prevent a similar event from occurring again. Today, tourists can visit the skydome and look down into what remains of the cave through a specially designed manhole.
As for the Corvettes?
Several of the cars that fell into the hole were utterly destroyed, and the recovered remains can be seen at the museum as patrons exit the skydome.
The 1962 Corvette
However, three of the cars which were recovered – including the 1992 “1 Millionth” Corvette, the 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” prototype and a 1962 black Corvette – were salvageable. It was decided that they should be restored. The first two were restored by General Motors. It was decided that the 1962 Corvette would undergo repair in the NCM’s new Maintenance and Preservation Department, allowing visitors the opportunity to watch the restoration take place in real time (when visiting the museum.)
The restoration process began in 2017 and was slated to take a year to complete. Over the past year, work was performed on the Museum-owned C1 Corvette at the AutoZone Maintenance and Preservation Area by David Decker, Vehicle Maintenance and Preservation Coordinator, with help from Curator Derek Moore and other members of the Corvette Museum team.
The black 1962 Corvette was donated to the NCM in 2011 by David Donoho, a long-time Corvette enthusiast who originally purchased the car in high school. David was obsessed with his Corvette and earned the nickname “The Weather Man” from his friends because he’d watch the weather constantly when he took the car out and would hurry home whenever there was a chance of bad weather. He owned the car for just over 50 years before donating it to the museum.
On Monday, February 12, 2018, the restored 1962 Corvette will be returned to its original pre-sinkhole display space in the Skydome and unveiled to the public. A ceremony is scheduled in the Skydome at 9:00 CST, and will be broadcast live on the NCM’s Facebook page.
“For me, it’s been an honor to perform the restoration of the 1962,” said Decker. “This Corvette as well as the other seven made international headlines. Visitors travel from all over the world to visit our Museum and see these cars. I can’t wait for them to see the transformation.”