Corvette fans can fully satisfy their need for speed and learn about the past, present and future of the car at the National Corvette Museum.
The 115,000 square foot facility is the home of America’s sports car. Located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, it’s a curator of all things Corvette from 1953 to 2020 and everything in between. A Motorsports park and the world’s only General Motors Corvette Assembly Plant are also nearby.
Watch the video to go on the tour with them or we’ve provided a transcript of the highlights below for your convenience. (The transcript was lightly edited for clarity.)
- Entombed Corvette
- 2014 Museum Sinkhole
- First 1957 Corvette Racecar
- Father of the Corvette’s Vision
- Red Carpet Museum Delivery
Dr. Sean Preston:
It is an actual museum. It’s an actual path that you take to learn about the history of the car. It’s a great place to also earn about American ingenuity and American technology. And we have a model of every single Corvette ever made in this museum. So there’s nothing more American in the automotive realm than the National Corvette Museum.
There is the full chronicle of all things Corvette, but it’s the personal stories that steer the narrative, stories like the entombed Corvette. (0:39)
The story goes that there was a man who lived in Maine and owned a grocery store, and his wife didn’t care for the way the car rode. So she asked him to sell it. And he said no. Instead, he put it in a vault or a tomb under his grocery store.
I would love to hear the conversation – (Wife): I don’t like it. It’s too sporty. Get rid of it. (Husband): I’ll show you. I’m building a vault in the basement.
27 years later, the car was free, and later found its way to the museum where the vault was recreated, complete with windows so the grocer could see his static sports car. (1:04)
But what it did provide us is the most naturally preserved, untouched ’54 car in the world and has 2000 miles on it. The original air in the tire from 1954 is still in the tires of the vehicle now.
Who won the argument? The wife or the husband now that it’s in the Corvette Museum? (1:38)
Definitely the husband because now it’s ours.
2014 Museum Sinkhole
One of the biggest stories in the museum happened in the museum itself in 2014. (1:48)
At 5:39am, the floor in the iconic yellow Skydome that we’re known for… Part of the floor fell in.
Luckily, no one was hurt, but the story went national. (2:10)
So what you’re looking at here…This is sort of the direction the floor fell out. And then eight cars were victims of the sinkhole. Three were restored, and five were beyond repair.
How many tears were shed that morning when this happened? (2:29)
Hundreds and hundreds across the country, right? Because these three cars that we restored, they’re conic. A ’62 Tuxedo Black, an incredibly rare C 1 Corvette, right? Not many of these in the world at all fell down the sinkhole. This is the one millionth Corvette ever made. This is a benchmark car in General Motors’ history with the white on red iconic first Corvette color scheme.
What do we do? Pull the cars out of the ground, fill the hole and created a whole new exhibit around the cave systems of Kentucky…The physics of cave systems, how our cars were restored. We showed the process of restoring the 3 of the 8 vehicles. Our team did an amazing job.
But now we’re showing you the results of that day. And we didn’t try to clean them up. We left them just as they were pulled up out of the ground. And look at the complete destruction of these. These are obviously the ones that fell down first.
I’m really just impressed with the fact that you come back from something like that. I mean that’s an American comeback story there. (3:39)
First 1957 Corvette Racecar
Every exhibit reveals more. (3:49)
We tell the story about design, engineering. We have an amazing gallery called the Performance Gallery where we talk about the epic battle between car designers and racecar drivers, and how Corvettes prevail throughout the years. So this is the first racecar – 1957 SS – one of one, not two, not three, not four, literally this is the only model.
It’s almost too beautiful to race though. I mean, I’m sure he (Clare MacKichan) wasn’t thinking about it. But the car is a work of art and he’s tooling around the racetrack. (4:14)
Zora Arkus-Duntov, Father of the Corvette
With the introduction of the mid-engine C8 2020, the father of the Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov’s vision for the car is also explored. (4:31)
This is it. This is the car that Zora designed. As early as ’59, they were thinking about this design…It only took them then of course 61 years, but we’re there. And from there, we follow the path through the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, and 2020 we’ll end with this beautiful C8 car and show that sort of trail of history getting to that 2020.
Red Carpet Museum Delivery
But unlike other museums, you can actually drive away with part of the exhibit if you pre-purchase from your local dealer. (5:05)
You can choose to have your car delivered at the National Corvette museum and then you meet with our delivery host for an hour or two learning about the vehicle tour the museum have lunch at the cafe. And then my whole staff comes out and cheers you on as your car exits the museum down victory lane.
Captain Quincy, 2020 Corvette owner:
If you don’t ever do this, you’re making a huge mistake. didn’t know what to expect. But seeing the car walking in sets the tone for the day. And then you get to go through and see all these cars and listen to the history and learn all the things that you really don’t get to see that still being a Corvette fan. If you can’t learn something coming here, there’s just something wrong.
And Captain Quincy knows Corvettes. (5:49)
This is number 10 from 1965 to 2020.
But owning a Corvette is more than cosmetic. It’s generational. Even for those racing the cars down the road. (6:05)
Alexis Hocevar, Regional Director, Spec Corvette NOLA:
I actually bought a 2001 Z06 Corvette brand new had museum delivery Ben and I flew up he was probably three or four years old. Never in my life did I think that we would be back there and he would be racing me in the in you know that car that was incredible.
Even if you don’t drive away in a new Stingray, you will take something with you from the National Corvette Museum. (6:32)
When you come in and see the history and you see the evolution of ’53 to ’20’…When you think about what’s gone into creating these cars, I think you walk away thinking whether you’re a Corvette fan or not. I think you leave here more of an automotive fan than ever before. And maybe we converted a few folks to Corvette in the process.