Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Nationnal Corvette Museum, 8/28/2016

The National Corvette Museum located in Bowling Green, KY, was on our list of places to visit during our one-week stay in Cave City. It was an easy 25 minute drive along I-24 and just a short distance from the interstate to reach it. All Corvettes have been manufactured at the GM plant here since the 1980s. Tours of the manufacturing plant are also available, but we only visited the museum. 

The museum was established to celebrate the invention of the Corvette, known as America's sports car, and to preserve its past, present and future. It opened in 1991 with much fanfare from Corvette enthusiasts from all over the country. The lobby has a cafe and large store with all types of Corvette-themed items of clothing and souvenirs. 

The large lobby is also used to showcase 2017 models ready for delivery to their respective owners. 

The first Corvette was built for the 1953 Motorama. As the concept for the new sports car was being finalized, Chevrolet started looking for a name. A public relations photographer, Ed Cole,, suggested naming it after the British Navy class of fast-pursuit shipsCorvette, and the rest, as they say, is history. Here are some models from those early days. 

Zora Arkus-Duntov joined GM in 1953 and is known as the patron saint of the Corvette. He introduced major engineering improvements in the early years that resulted in the Corvette becoming the best-selling sports car in the world for a time. He had interacted with and was influenced by such auto greats as Bugatti, Chinetti, Porsche, Allard, and Shelby. Also shown is the only Corvette he ever owned, a 1974 model.

Below is one of the earliest models (1954). The 1967 red Corvette was owned by Roy Orbison, another Corvette enthusiast. And the 1967 blue Corvette in the third photo is very similar to the 1966 model John owned when he and I first started dating in 1969. His was a slightly lighter shade of blue (ahhhh, sweet memories). 

There were many racing models on display...

And concept cars as well.

Crash testing process and results were exhibited in this display.

Glass windows provide a view into the shop where museum Corvettes are restored

A portion of the museum is known as the Skydome. It is a large circular structure that features the Corvette Hall of Fame (individual Corvette enthusiasts) and various "special" vehicles. 

In February, 2014, the roof of a large cave collapsed forming a sinkhole inside the Skydome (60' x 45' x 30' deep), swallowing eight Corvettes that were on display. Fortunately, it happened when no one was in the building but it was caught on security cameras. Below is a diagram of the large cave (in gray) underneath the Skydome.

Here are some of the damaged Corvettes.

Two of the eight have been restored: the millionth Corvette built by GM (white); and, the blue 2009 ZR1, the most powerful car ever built by GM. With 628 hp, it was driven at over 200 mph! 

Some of the pace cars for the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 are on display in the Skydome. 

The last gallery had a fascinating array of racing vehicles. 

Jeanette Holder of Kentucky has been a spectator at the Indianapolis 500 since the 1950s. In 1976 she made a one-of-a-kind quilt for the winner of the race, Johnny Rutherford. She has been making one for the winner every year since. The quilts are beautifully made and most are 10' x 10'. One is on display here along with some of the cars that have won the Indy 500.

There is so much more to see here than is covered in this post. In addition to John's Corvette way back in the late 1960s, we also owned a 1982 Midnight Gray Corvette with red interior that we sold when we began planning our full-time RV lifestyle, so we certainly enjoyed this place. But anyone that has ever admired this American icon, would enjoy this museum. Displays rotate on a routine basis so lots of folks come back here again and again. There were many recent model Corvettes in the parking lot.

In addition to the plant tour, there is a Motorsport Park a couple of miles from the museum where you can drive your own performance car or ride with a professional driver in a Corvette on the track. 

Admission was $9/seniors and $10/adults. It was a very enjoyable and educational visit. For information about hours of operation and other activities, check out their website. 


  1. Don't miss Tidball's bar in Bowling Green.

  2. Thanks for the tip! Hope you two are well. Enjoy following your adventures.