On February 12, 2014 at 5:44 am, the National Corvette Museum received a call from its security company notifying it that motion detectors were being triggered, according to a blog post on the Museum’s website. The cause: a sinkhole, approximately 40 feet across and 60 feet deep that swallowed up eight Corvettes.
On April 9, 2014, the last Corvette was pulled out of the muddy pit—a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 that was the most heavily damaged out of all the corvettes. It’s the featured picture and video of this article.
According to the most recent blog post on the Museum website, “The Mallett Hammer was donated to the Museum this past December by Kevin and Linda Helmintoller of Land O' Lakes, Florida, Lifetime Members of the Museum and previous R8C Museum Delivery participants."
When hearing that the car had been located, Kevin traveled to Kentucky to witness the rescue operation. “I expected bad, but it's 100 times worse,” he said. “It looks like a piece of tin foil... and it had a roll cage in it! It makes all the other cars look like they're brand new.”
Two of the vehicles recovered were on loan from General Motors. They include the 1993 ZR-1 Spyder and the 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil.” Six of the vehicles were owned by the museum, including the 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06. The others were a 1962 Black Corvette, 1984 PPG Pace Car, 1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette, 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette, and a 2009 White 1.5 Millionth Corvette.
General Motors has already announced that Chevrolet will oversee vehicle restoration.
“The vehicles at the National Corvette Museum are some of the most significant in automotive history,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president of General Motors Global Product Development. “There can only be one 1-millionth Corvette ever built. We want to ensure as many of the damaged cars are restored as possible so fans from around the world can enjoy them when the Museum reopens.”
After the sinkhole was discovered, the process of recovering vehicles was thought to only take days. The very day the 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 was pulled out of the sinkhole marked eight weeks since the sinkhole originally appeared. It marks the end of the first stage of rebuilding.
“We're happy to have the completion of our major goal to recover all eight of the Corvettes,” said Wendell Strode, Executive Director of the Museum. “Next week we have a meeting with all the major players, including the construction team, geo-technical firm, cave and karst specialists, engineers, our insurance company and others to review all the findings and have discussions on the next steps and a mutual understanding about rebuilding.”
A “Great 8”—the name given to the eight Corvettes—display will officially open next week at the museum and the sinkhole Corvettes will be available for viewing as they are.
Image via National Corvette Museum Blog