The National Corvette Museum (NCM), located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, strives to tell the story of “America’s sports car” through displays of both vehicles and artifacts. Though all seven generations of Corvette are represented (the latest a loaner C7 Corvette not owned by the NCM), sizable gaps in the museum’s collection still exist, something that curator Derek Moore is hoping to remedy with future donations of Corvettes and rival sports cars.
2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Photo courtesy Chevrolet.
In a perfect world, a museum dedicated to preserving a model’s history would own one of each significant variant within a model year, but in the case of the Corvette, amassing such a vast collection would be a monumental task. Instead, Moore’s immediate goal is to obtain one Corvette from every production model year, via donations from museum benefactors. Filling in the gaps of the museum’s current holdings would require the gifting of examples from the 1955, 1960-’61, 1964-’65, 1970, 1972-’73, 1975-’77, 1982, 1991, 1997-’99, 2001, 2004-’06, 2009-’12, and 2014-’19 model years. In addition, the museum is also seeking donations of prototype or experimental Corvette models, which will likely prove even harder to come by.
1955 Ford Thunderbird, an early rival to the first-generation Corvette. Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company.
The Corvette didn’t exist in a vacuum, and telling its story in a comprehensive manner requires a discussion of rival and predecessor automobiles as well. With this in mind, Moore’s “wish list” also includes a 1955-’57 Ford Thunderbird, a Dodge Viper, and any fiberglass sports car (such as the Glasspar G2, the Woodill Wildfire, and the Kaiser Darrin) that arrived on the market before the Corvette. Other early sports cars that ultimately established a market and paved the way for the launch of the Corvette, like the MG T-type and Jaguar XK120, are also being sought, as are examples of early American efforts like the Stutz Bearcat, Mercer Raceabout, and Crosley Hotshot.
Another entire chapter of the Corvette’s history could be devoted to “cars with Corvette power,” and here, the NCM is seeking donations of a 1964 Cheetah, certain Iso Grifos and Iso Rivoltas, and a Corvette-engined Bizzarrini. Even GM wasn’t averse to sharing the Corvette’s V-8 between divisions, so the museum is also hoping for a 2004-’06 Pontiac GTO, a 2006-’09 Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS, and a 2004-present Cadillac CTS-V. Another Cadillac model on the list is an XLR, built upon the Corvette’s Y-body platform in the Bowling Green assembly plant alongside the Corvette from 2003-’09, but powered by a Cadillac Northstar V-8.
2009 Cadillac XLR-V (L) and XLR. Photo courtesy Cadillac.
Vehicle donations are generally tax-deductible, within the guidelines specified in the IRS publication A Donor’s Guide to Vehicle Donation. Such gifts to the museum may be specified for the collection only, for immediate sale at the museum’s discretion, or for sale at the museum’s discretion after three years (the current minimum hold period required by IRS). Cars donated only to the museum’s collection are accepted at the museum’s discretion, and since space and resources are limited, such vehicles should be as original as possible, require little effort to put on display, or historically significant to the Corvette story.
For more on donating a vehicle to the NCM, including a copy of Moore’s complete “wish list” and copy of the Vehicle Donation Questionnaire, visit CorvetteMuseum.org/Support/Donate-Your-Automobile/.