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Corvette Sinkhole: Last of 8 Cars Pulled Out Totally Destroyed

Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 10:26 AM

By Nick Sanchez

The last of eight classic Corvettes devoured by a sinkhole that opened under the dome of Kentucky's National Corvette Museum in February has been recovered in completely totaled condition.

Museum spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli told The Associated Press the 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette was at the very bottom of the 60-foot-deep sinkhole and was by far the most heavily damaged. It was valued at roughly $125,000.

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"It looks like the worst one . . . a lot of parts and pieces," said Mike Murphy, CEO of Scott, Murphy and Daniel Construction. "It took a lot of punishment from a lot of big rocks."

Kevin and Linda Helmintoller of Land O' Lakes, Florida donated the Mallett Hammer in December, just months before the incident. Kevin raced out to Bowling Green, Kentucky to watch the rescue operation upon its discovery.

"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, he said, according to a blog post from the museum.

"Honestly though, I'm still glad I'm here because I would have never believed it was this bad," he added. "I'm not positive I would have recognized it — there are just a few little pieces that give it away."

Helmintoller bought the car new in 2001 and spent years modifying it. The car has 700 horsepower and had appeared on the cover of GM High Tech Performance magazine.

Museum curators plan to showcase the "Great 8" as-is in an exhibit for the Museum's 20th Anniversary August 27-30.

"We donated this car to the Museum to help with the continued growth, but also because it could be a good vehicle for training other drivers at the new NCM Motorsports Park," Helmintoller said in December after donating the car.

Many of the other seven cars have been deemed recoverable.

"They seem to run the gamut — from very minor or superficial damage to catastrophic damage," Chevy spokesman and restoration specialist Monte Doran told reporters.

A 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil was the first car recovered in March, and only suffered a ruptured oil line, broken window and cracked door panels. Employees got the car back up and running almost immediately to the delight of many.

A 1962 black Corvette, 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, 1984 PPG Pace Car, 1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette, 2009 white 1.5 Millionth Corvette, and 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette were among those that fell into the sinkhole.

Any cars deemed irreparable will likely remain in the museum as-is after the Great 8 exhibit as a representation of the history there.

"I'm sure that we'll continue to display them as is. It's now a part of museum and Corvette history," said Frassinelli. "It's interesting to people. They aren't going into storage somewhere."

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