Sinkhole Corvettes: Museum Says Not All 8 Cars Can Be Restored

Monday, 28 Apr 2014 07:11 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Of the eight Corvettes rescued from the sinkhole that opened beneath the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky this past February, only a few are likely to be restored.

"The last three or four cars that came out of the sinkhole . . . we didn't expect them to come out looking quite that bad," said Dana Forrester, the museum board's lead Corvette restoration member, CNN reported.

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The board and multiple teams involved in both the recovery and restoration process met last week to discuss the restoration of the museum's exhibition floor that still sports a yawning 40-foot-wide by 60-foot-deep cavern and plan to meet with GM officials specializing in restoration this coming week. GM announced in February that it would help with the restoration effort.

Two months ago, many were optimistic that they could recover and restore everything, however, "Recent discussions have changed what the original thoughts were," said Forrester. It "may not be possible," he said, to restore cars like the 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette — the last of the cars recovered from the very bottom of the hole. Unfortunately, it came out looking like "just a tire" as one museum official put it.

For some of the cars, "it may be best" that an independent restorer other than GM do it, he concluded.

"We'll listen to what they say about it, and then we'll make a decision as to which car gets restored and to what degree," Forrester said.

Monte Doran, GM's Corvette communications manager, concurred with Forrester's conclusion, saying GM's focus was "sensitive restoration."

When he meets with museum officials next week, he anticipates the team will nail down specifics regarding the options for each car's restoration. Because the Corvette is likely the most collected classic car and the world's longest continually-produced passenger car, many gearheads and 'Vette-heads will be closely following the plans.

Enthusiasts will be vigilant of each detail of the restoration, making sure not too many new or custom-made parts are used — something many think can lead to "re-creations" rather than true "restorations."

As to the exhibition space, experts are likely to conclude that the area is now safe, and doesn't pose any further collapse threat. According to GM Authority, "drillings, microgravity readings and the Western Kentucky University cave and karst team’s exploration research of the hole" have given them ample data and insights, leading to multiple restoration ideas.

One idea floated even suggested keeping the hole, cleaning it up a bit, and putting a staircase into it to display the underground cave as part of the museum's history.

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