On February 12, 2014, a massive sinkhole opened up beneath the National Corvette Museum’s Skydome in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The approximately 30×40 foot hole was caused by the roof of a previously unknown cave beneath the museum collapsing under the weight of the building. It swallowed up eight unique Chevrolet Corvette models that were on display, resulting in damages well into the seven figures. As we move past the seven year anniversary of the disaster, we wanted to take a look back at one of the craziest moments in Chevrolet Corvette history.
Thankfully for everyone involved, the National Corvette Museum sinkhole opened up in the early hours of the morning, when no one was inside. Motion sensors within the Skydome alerted employees that something was off however, and we’re sure they weren’t prepared to see exactly what had happened. Eight Corvettes fell into the sinkhole, with five sustaining severe damage. Among these five were a 1984 PPG Indy Car World Series Pace Car, a one-off 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, a 1993 40th Anniversary coupe, a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06, and a 2009 C6 Convertible; which was the 1.5 millionth Chevrolet Corvette produced. Despite GM’s initial pledge to do so, none of these cars were able to be fully restored after being removed from the sinkhole.
Three of the Chevrolet Corvettes that fell into the hole were able to be saved however. The first car to be rescued was the 2009 C6 Corvette ZR1 Prototype known as Blue Devil. Despite falling from a significant height, the car was actually able to drive out of the Skydome under its own power after being pulled out. General Motors then took the car back from the NCM, and restored it to its former glory. GM also repaired the one millionth Chevrolet Corvette, a 1992 model finished in white over red leather. It had sustained quite a bit more damage than the ZR1, but the automaker wasn’t ready to let another milestone car go that easy. The original body panels were restored in places that they could be, right on down to the secret signatures left by factory workers back in 1992.
The final car to be saved was also the oldest Chevrolet Corvette to fall victim to the disaster. It was a 1962 model donated to the National Corvette Museum by its original owner, David Donoho. The restoration of this particular car took place at the Museum’s own facility, and was finished for the fourth anniversary of the disaster.
Even seven years after the fact, it is still hard to watch the video of the National Corvette Museum sinkhole swallowing those cars. Sure GM has built a ton of Corvettes over the years, but those particular cars were at the museum for safe keeping. They represented important moments in the history of the American Sports Car, and now they sit mangled and destroyed. For those brave enough to relive the experience, the NCM maintains a Corvette Cave exhibit, which gives visitors a chance to see the cave that caused the sinkhole, and the damage that it caused.
If you’d like to see more images from the sinkhole disaster, the museum has an extensive collection of photos available for viewing here.