The 1962 Corvette in as-recovered condition. Photos courtesy National Corvette Museum.
In 2015, the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, added a maintenance department, housed in the former pre-delivery inspection shop. Now, a year later, the museum has recognized the need to add preservation and restoration to the department’s list of responsibilities, requiring a build-out that will add a potential new attraction for future museum visitors.
Daniel Decker, head of the maintenance department, realized soon after joining the museum in 2015 that numerous cars in the collection, many gifted by patrons, weren’t in operational condition. A donated 1959 Corvette, for example, had non-functional brakes and an engine that didn’t run, making the car suitable for static display but not much else. After taking inventory, Daniel implemented a two-step process for the museum’s entire 72-car collection: First, make every car operational, then worry about maintenance issues like leaking seals, seeping gaskets and squeaky brakes. Even the museum’s fully functional Corvettes are now on a regular service schedule.
The car as donated by David Donoho.
A more ambitious project looms as well: Restoring the 1962 Corvette damaged in the February 2014 Skydome floor collapse. The last of three Corvettes to be restored from the sinkhole incident, the black-over-red example will be reborn in house, with the help of funding provided by General Motors. The automaker has already restored the two other cars recovered in salvageable condition, including a 2009 ZR-1 Blue Devil prototype and the millionth Corvette built, a white 1993 convertible.
Returning the 1962 Corvette to its as-donated condition will be a lengthy process, and Daniel expects the task to take as long as a year to complete. “It’s a real big honor to be able to do the work, to bring it back to life from the sinkhole,” he said, “We want to do it right. The fiberglass really needs to set and cure so it doesn’t shrink later. We want the car to look immaculate.” If all goes as planned, future museum visitors will be able to watch this work in progress through a series of viewing windows to be installed in the preservation workshop area.
Building out the new preservation workshop area won’t be inexpensive, so the museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise the projected $100,000 needed for expansion. As marketing and communications manager Katie Frassinelli explained,
We’ve never really done a campaign like this before, but given the fact that we are here to preserve the history of America’s Sports Car, we really wanted to add this new aspect to the museum experience. Every little bit helps reach our goal, and helping spread the word is equally important. We hope everyone will join us in making this project successful.
Once completed, the preservation area will also play host to training classes on subjects relating to car care and basic mechanics. To make a tax-deductible contribution to the cause, visit GoFundMe.com/PreserveCorvette, and for more information on the museum itself, visit CorvetteMuseum.org.