Thursday, May 11, 2023

No, It's Not Our Corvette


I had an interesting conversation in the bathroom of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky. Before we even got started on our perusal of the museum, we made the prerequisite stop known to all retirement-age people. Yes, the bathroom. As I was washing my hands, a lady said, "Are you the one picking up the new Corvette?"

I almost turned around to see who she was talking to, but since we were the only two at the sinks at that time, I figured it was me.

I smiled. (Didn't I use great restraint not to laugh hysterically?) And I politely responded, "No, it's not us!" 

There was a special place at the museum to pick up custom Corvettes. 

Here's Randy, trying to look sad that the only Corvette he got at the museum was Matchbox-sized. (He also got a golf ball and a new shirt. OK, true confessions: I got a sweatshirt and a Christmas ornament at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.)

We did see a few salesmen leaning over cars on the showroom floor, pointing out the features of a brand new Corvette to potential buyers.

But most of the Corvettes we saw were in the beautifully-designed museum showrooms. 

I took a photo of one below because it had a Kansas tag.

It was a 1963 Corvette with a split window in the back. According to the museum signs, the split window is "one of the most universally beloved Corvette models." At the time when Bill Mitchell was at his creative peak, he sought a uniquely American sports car form. Mitchell's direction to designers was "to put a crease in the pants." This is evident in the fender forms and the crease running the length of the car, still used today. However, the controversial split window disappeared after only one year.

I had to take a photo of the 1988 Corvette because that's the year Brent was born. The 1988 Corvette represented the company's 35th anniversary. (And, ironically, Brent celebrated his 35th birthday yesterday.)

Corvette missed its own 30th anniversary when the 1983 car didn't make it to production in time. So, to mark the 35th anniversary, a special package was added for coupes for an additional $4,795. Only 2,050 35th anniversary edition Corvettes were made. This one had only 380 miles on the odometer.

Speaking of vintage cars, this 1957 version was produced in my birth year. The Corvette Super Sport was designed to "create a vision of what racing cars should be." The SS Racer competed and was capable of "amazing speed," but was rushed through development. The team failed to insulate the driver effectively from the extreme heat of the mechanicals. Despite what engineers called "teething pains," it was hailed as one of the most beautiful racers of the era.

Probably the most fascinating part of the museum for us was a display about the February 12, 2014, sinkhole that swallowed up eight one-of-a-kind Corvettes under the floor of the museum's Skydome. It happened in the early morning hours, so no one was in the museum at the time. When emergency personnel arrived, they discovered a sinkhole 40 feet wide and 25 to 30 feet deep.

Of the eight cars that fell into the hole, the museum owned six and General Motors owned two, including the 1 millionth car to come off the assembly line.

Photo from the National Corvette Museum website

The value of those cars was estimated at $1 million. 

The remaining 20 cars in the Skydome were removed later that day for safekeeping. Two years later, the Skydome reopened and now tells the story of what happened and why. Kentucky is one of the states notable for having karst topography, a landscape formed from the dissolving of rocks such as limestone. (It's not far from Mammoth Cave, which was formed the same way. More on our Mammoth Cave visit is coming up on the blog.) 

While most of the museum featured Corvettes (as you'd expect in a Corvette museum), I couldn't resist a photo by a bright purple 1951 Chevy,

The 1951 Chevy street cruiser was designed by Carl Casper. Casper may have thought it was painted in Purple Passion Candy, but we Wildcat fans know it's K-State purple.

Of course, we had to get a Batmobile photo, too. Casper's designs also attracted Hollywood's attention. Warner Bros. tasked Carl Casper with building three Batmobiles that could be used in promoting the film, "Batman Returns." Casper also designed the Dukes of Hazard General Lee and The A-Team's crime-fighting van. 

Here was his Cosmic Invader. No wonder his cars were popular at car shows throughout the country.

More from Bowling Green next time.


  1. I'm not a car enthusiast, but this post had my complete attention. Very funny re the question in the bathroom!
    Randy is looking very relaxed.

    1. He is enjoying the traveling. I'm not a car enthusiast either, but the museum was very well done.