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First Corvettes Resurrected from National Corvette Museum Sinkhole

By | Published March 3, 2014

Incredible day for Corvette fans and auto lovers everywhere

Unless you're living in a cave, pun intended, you by now have heard about that massive sinkhole that opened up in the Bowling Green, KY site of the National Corvette Museum inside the 100 foot tall SkyDome. It swallowed 8 rare Corvettes, drawing them into the bowels of the sinkhole.

The disaster and the video they showed captured by a security camera inside the museum aimed at the Corvettes, left us all in shock and amazed at how a priceless collection of very rare and one of a kind Corvettes could disappear in a flash. Many of us were jokingly wondering why this didn't happen to the Ford Pinto museum instead!

The museum managers are a bunch of sharp people who quickly got a hold of some sharp engineers, and they hashed out an ambitious plan to salvage these 8 Corvettes rather than admit defeat and let them be entombed forever.

A simple plan

We expected this would probably take months to accomplish, but we were surprised that they got started on it right away. The plan was to bring in some type of boom cranes into the SkyDome. But the dome would need several panels removed to accommodate the cranes. They also had to have geologists and structural engineers confirm the area around the sinkhole was safe to be on with this added weight.

If you'll tolerate one more pun from me, they had to "vette" out the area around the sinkhole that swallowed the vettes. Next the plan was to lower a couple of guys via crane in a cage like going under water for sharks.

Once they get down to the first car, they will attach all these straps, and the Corvette will be hoisted up horizontally using a special spreader bar attachment on the crane that creates a cage like shape out of the tightened straps.

Resurrection Day, March 3, 2014

The Corvette Museum also has a Webcam #6 inside the SkyDome so you can watch all the events unfold live. They also provided us with a live Ustream feed which ironically failed right at the moment they were about to raise the Titanic. So I changed Ustream's name to UCantStream. We simply switched back over to the Museum's own Webcam #6, and grabbed this screen shot below:

Screenshot from National Corvette Museum Webcam #6
Screenshot from National Corvette Museum Webcam #6

Everything went as planned, they lowered the guys in the cage who attached the straps to the wheels and then the Blue Devil actually rose out of the sinkhole pretty effortlessly. Shortly after the Corvette was recovered out of the sinkhole, they sat it down on the floor.

Let's get cranking!

After a few minutes and a few tries, the Blue Devil engine cranked over, and the engine started right up. There was applause, cheering, and high fives all over the room, as the Blue Devil was driven out of the sky dome on its own. Later the Corvette Museum released this short video onto YouTube documenting the quick salvaging out of the sinkhole, and subsequent drive off out of the SkyDome:

There were a lot of happy people there to see their plans finally come to fruition. As an engineer whenever you plan something and the stakes are this high, you don't get much sleep the night before, as you run every possible scenario through your head, and second guess yourself if you've covered all contingencies.

Second verse, same as the first

Not long after the blue Corvette was driven out of the Skydome, they went back into the sinkhole after "Ruby". Now Ruby is a 1993 40th Corvette, ruby red in color. She came out sort of sideways and passenger door downward and they had to spin her back to level when they got her up out of the sinkhole, and dangling above the floor. Here are a couple of screen shots we got off the museum's webcam:

Screenshot #2 from National Corvette Museum Webcam #6
Screenshot from National Corvette Museum Webcam #6
Screenshot #3 from National Corvette Museum Webcam #6
Screenshot from National Corvette Museum Webcam #6

Just like with the Blue Devil rescued earlier in the day, the museum released another video showing them pulling Ruby from the rubble:

So this brings to a successful conclusion the first day of salvage operations. The rest of the 6 cars should get harder to bring up, as the black one is perched vertically in a dangerous position. The rest are just buried, and may require some gentle excavation like Jurassic Park to free these lost animals.

Just as a quick reminder, here's the list of the 8 cars that fell into the sinkhole at the museum.

The other 6 Corvettes are owned by the National Corvette Museum:

Now it's your turn:

Do you think they will be able to rescue all 8 cars, or will they have to leave one or 2 behind? Please leave your comments below.

Author Jeff Ostroff

About The Author: Jeff Ostroff is a consumer advocate, Founding Editor and CEO of CarBuyingTips.com overseeing a team of expert authors. For over 17 years, he's been the recognized authority on car buying, leasing, used cars and financing. He developed sophisticated spreadsheet tools to help consumers negotiate on a level playing field. He is a widely sought out guru, cited by the press for his expertise in savvy car buying and preventing consumer scams. Jeff has been quoted in CNN, Bloomberg, MSNBC, Wall street Journal, Consumer Reports, NY Times, Reader's Digest, and many live call in radio shows. He has covered the automotive space since 1997. Jeff also has extensive experience and expertise in selling used cars for clients on eBay and Craigslist. Connect with Jeff via Email, Twitter or on Google+.

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