Corvettes vs. Sinkhole Update: Good News and Bad News

Earlier this month, we published a post about eight Corvettes swallowed by a sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. A couple weeks later, we have an update – and there’s both good and bad news.

The good: As of Wednesday, April 9, all eight Corvettes have been removed from the sinkhole!

The bad: The final three cars, extracted from underneath concrete slabs, boulders, and dirt, are in pretty rough shape.

The 1993 ZR-1 Spyder was partially visible in the sinkhole (just the rear left quarter was showing), while the 2009 1.5 Millionth Corvette and the 2001 Mallett Hammer Corvette Z06 were completely covered – the recovery team at the National Corvette Museum enlisted metal detectors, a heavy-duty vacuum, and excavating equipment to unearth them. The ZR Spyder was removed from the sinkhole on March 26th, followed by the 1.5 Millionth on April 3 and the Mallett Hammer on April 9.

1993 ZR 1 Spyder wrecked by sinkhole

The ZR-1 Spyder is a concept car with many unique features including a chopped windshield, lowered seats, custom aluminum wheels, and a louvered hood. All the people involved in building the car had signed the underside of the hood, so the car had been displayed in the museum with the hood up. Unfortunately when the car plunged into the sinkhole the hood snapped off, and it has not yet been recovered.1

As the Spyder was removed, the 1.5 millionth Corvette came into view. Built in Bowling Green in 2009, this fully loaded Vette was purchased new by the museum to preserve an important piece of history. It’s a white convertible with a classic red interior, a 6.2L V8 engine, and plenty of performance upgrades.2

The Mallett Hammer was a new addition to the museum, donated in December 2013 by Kevin and Linda Helmintoller from Land O’ Lakes, Florida. “Mallett Hammer” refers to a racing conversion package that gave the Vette a 7-liter LS7 V8 engine, dyno tuning, suspension upgrades, and custom body graphics.3 The Helmintollers purchased the car in 2001 and spent well over a decade modifying it. Kevin Helmintoller traveled to Bowling Green to see the car being extracted, and it’s safe to say that he was feeling the power of nature as he watched. “I expected bad, but it’s 100 times worse. It looks like a piece of tin foil…and it had a roll cage in it! It makes all the other cars look like they’re brand new.”4 The museum hasn’t said definitively if the car will be restored, but as you can see from the top photo in this post, it seems unlikely.

The National Corvette Museum now says the eight rescued Corvettes will remain on display in the Exhibit Hall through August 3, 2014, then will be moved into the restored Skydome for the museum’s 20th Anniversary Celebration, which takes place August 27-30, 2014.

1. National Corvette Museum Blog, April 1, 2014

2. National Corvette Museum Blog, April 3, 2014

3. The New York Times, Corvette Number Eight Pulled From National Corvette Museum Sinkhole, April 11, 2014

4. National Corvette Museum Blog, April 9, 2014

Photos and video courtesy of the National Corvette Museum

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