Thursday, October 1, 2015

What's In Your Museum? Messner Legacy Found Throughout

The National Corvette Museum is home to many special vehicles - from mint classics, to one-of-a-kind prototypes, much-loved special editions, race cars and more. While the Museum now owns nearly 70 Corvettes (with all but one donated), a good portion of the display cars are also on loan from private individuals and General Motors. Cars are constantly shuffled and swapped, so no two visits to this Corvette mecca are the same.

In 2013 the Museum was gifted its largest donation to date - a collection of ten Corvettes, from the late Don Messner and his wife Marlene. The pristine set contains many collector and special editions, low mileage and stunning examples of America's Sports Car. The carefully assembled collection were Don's pride and joy, and were left to the Museum upon his passing with the hope that they would inspire others to do the same.

"He said he wanted to plant a seed," wife Marlene said. "He wanted others in similar situations with rare Corvettes to see the Museum as a place for them. Most of all, he wanted to inspire future generations to work hard to buy their own Corvettes some day so that they, too, could enjoy the lifestyle that goes with owning them."

In 2014 all ten came together for a special display in the Museum's Exhibit Hall, and today - you can see five of them on the floor throughout the Museum while the other five remain behind the scenes, awaiting the next opportunity to return to the spotlight. Each of the cars has a great story - so we hope you enjoy reading about those you can see on your next visit!

1965 Custom Built Race Corvette (currently on display in our lobby turntable)
This Corvette bears a paint color similar to Cyber Gray and is not a standard 1965 exterior color, but does it turn heads! The car features a complete wide body kit, roll cage, period correct exhaust, custom built big block by Lingenfelter, custom chassis, custom sheet metal intake, Recaro race seats with harnesses, aluminum radiator and 5-speed transmission.

1967 427 Convertible (currently on display in the Dealership)
The Marina Blue beauty was the 2nd most popular color for 1967 and features a stinger stripe on the hood. It is optioned with a 390hp V8 turbojet engine, positraction rear axle, whitewall tires, side dual exhaust, AM/FM radio, softray tinted glass, white convertible top, 4-speed close ratio manual transmission and white and bright blue vinyl interior. It was produced in St. Louis on June 1, 1967 and sold by Penske-McKean Chevrolet of Philadelphia for $3,995.95. Don purchased the car April, 2012 and joined the NCRS, replacing a few parts on the car that had deteriorated while keeping the car period correct.

1996 Grand Sport (currently on display in the Skydome)
This model of Corvette is listed as one of the "10 most valuable Corvettes" by CNN Money because it was "available for one year only, was almost as fast [as the high performance ZR-1], easier to work on and is actually worth a good bit more."

1996 Collectors Edition (currently on display in the Skydome)
This car was manufactured December 6, 1995 in Bowling Green with option RPO Z15 ("Collector Edition"), making it a Sebring Silver Corvette with special trim. The May 1996 edition of Motor Trend magazine touted the car "a keeper and is likely one of the best all-around Corvettes ever hatched out of the Bowling Green, KY plant."

2012 60th Anniversary 427 Convertible (currently on display in the Skydome)
The 2013 model marked Corvette's 60th year, and was the final year for the sixth generation of Corvette. This special package was offered for all models for 2013, and the 427 Convertible combined the convertible with Z06 elements, including its 505hp, 427ci LS7 engine with dry sump, but retained the convertible's steel frame structure.

Don's story is a special one that's we've put together as part of a new Heritage Series. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Car Part Art Exhibit Converts Function to Form

The car you are driving today will be a good source of many recyclable materials tomorrow. In fact, around 80 percent of a car can be recycled, and much of it takes place while your car is still in service through aftermarket recycling. The National Corvette Museum’s new exhibit, Car Part Art, teaches visitors not only about car recycling – but also demonstrates how one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Over 70 works of art have come together to fill the Museum’s Exhibit Hall, from Corvette hood liners serving as a canvas, to old rotors painted or welded or backlit to create interesting sculptures. Works have been created by artists, young and old, including area elementary, middle and high school students, to seasoned professionals from Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; Paducah, KY, and more.

Guest Curator Andee Rudloff, a professional artist, consultant and educator, worked with the Museum to bring the exhibition together. “We started in April, officially announcing the exhibit on Earth Day, and since then we’ve worked to secure scrap car parts for artists, cultivated relationships between the artists and the Corvette Museum, and shared our enthusiasm and excitement about this new exhibition.”

The excitement was evident at the exhibit’s grand opening reception on Friday, September 18 when more than 40 of the participating artists, joined by their family, friends and Museum guests, gathered to celebrate the art. “We decided to recognize some of the exceptional pieces with out-of-the-box awards,” Andee said. “We invited some people from the community with unique but relevant backgrounds to serve as judges, and they carefully selected their favorites in categories like “Best Illumination,” “Precision Award,” and “Most Unique Use of Car Parts.”

The largest art piece, and perhaps the most eye-catching for a Corvette Museum visitor, is a 1960 Corvette inspired by art cars of greats like Britto, Warhol, Calder and Haring. “I chose a motif that was in concert with the car itself, addressing the contours, historical context, and luxurious nature of the ‘Vette,” said artist Christopher Hayes. The car was transported all the way from Colorado, courtesy of Intercity Lines, and certainly earned the “Biggest Impact” award.

Rounding out the exhibit are five pieces on loan from Michelin – all entries in their InTIREnational competition which challenges participants to create a piece of art with an international theme using up to four scrap tires donated by Michelin.

The exhibit was made possible with the help of sponsors Michelin, PPG Automotive Refinish, US Bank and Intercity Lines. Additionally, car parts were graciously donated by: Ace Auto Salvage of Nashville; A & S Auto Glass of Nashville; C&H Truck and Equipment; Corvette Central; Falloway Auto Parts; Final Finish of Morgantown, KY; Franklin Automotive Center; General Motors Bowling Green Assembly; Holley Performance Products; J.D. British Car Service; Midas; Parrish Auto Service; Barry & Jackie Passmore (Russell Springs, KY); Service Kind Collision Repair of Nashville; and Simpson County Tire and Auto.

The Car Part Art exhibit runs through January 8, 2016 at the National Corvette Museum and visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite piece to receive the “People’s Choice Award” at the end of the exhibit period. Learn more at

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Condes Donate Anniversary Corvettes

When deciding to donate a car to the National Corvette Museum, each donor has their reasons. For some it is to make room in their garage for the latest model, others it is because they would like to take advantage of the tax write-off benefits. For Craig Conde it was a combination of reasons, making his donation an emotional one.

After disability retiring seven years ago and due to multiple surgeries and medical issues, it had become impossible for Craig to enjoy riding in his Corvettes. “I had stopped showing them about two years ago because I was not able to take care of them,” Craig recalled.  “I couldn’t bring myself to sell them, emotionally I couldn’t.”

Craig and wife Sharon, Lifetime Members of the Museum and members of the Corvette Legends of Texas Club in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, knew they needed to find a home for their prized 1978 25th Silver Anniversary Corvette, and their 2003 50th Anniversary Corvette.

After a trip to Wisconsin, Craig decided on a whim to make a detour and stop by the Corvette Museum to check out the restored Skydome after the sinkhole construction was complete. There he saw the special Anniversary and Special Edition Corvette display.

“I looked at the 25th and 50th that were on loan to the Museum, and I thought – this just isn’t right,” Craig said.  “The Museum has been open 21 years, and somebody should have already donated these cars to the Museum. So I felt this was something that needed to be fixed.”

The cars were picked up in McKinney, Texas while Craig and Sharon traveled in Sharon’s 2005 Daytona Sunset Orange Corvette Coupe to Bowling Green on September 11 to officially turn the keys to their babies over. With staff and visitors clapping and cheering, Sharon drove the 1978 in to the Museum, followed by Craig in the 2003.

“These are their children, and now we’re responsible for them,” Gary Cockriel, Museum Development Officer said during the ceremony. “They’ve asked for visitation rights from now on, of course,” he joked “but it’s just a great honor to help keep our museum and their museum going for future generations. That’s what we’re all about. People like this are what keeps this museum alive. They’re stepping up and doing it not only with their cars, but also a donation to help keep up the cars,” Cockriel added.

“We want to thank Johnnie Downs, the NCM staff and volunteers that came to our home on Labor Day and assisted in the appraisals and transportation of the cars to the NCM,” Craig said. “I look forwarded to continuing to support the Museum,” he added.

Thank you to Craig and Sharon for these wonderful additions to the Museum, and for your contribution to ensure your children are taken care of for years to come! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

National Corvette Museum Holds Ribbon Cutting for Skydome Post Sinkhole Construction

Milestone 1-Millionth Corvette Unveiled as Part of the Ceremony

It’s official! A year and a half after a large sinkhole formed in the Skydome of the National Corvette Museum, the 13 story iconic landmark is back, better than ever, with all eight “sinkhole Corvettes” returned to display. Though the Skydome re-opened to visitors on July 6, a ceremonial ribbon cutting (or rather, caution tape cutting) was held as part of the Museum’s 21st Anniversary Celebration.

What could have been a major road block for the Museum became more of a speed bump as the sinkhole is credited with the 67% increase in visitors for 2014. Instead of immediately filling the sinkhole and restoring the Corvettes, the Museum “made lemonade” and embraced the international news-making occurrence, putting nature’s handiwork on display for most of 2014.

“The success of the sinkhole saga could not have been possible without the help and support of several key players,” said Katie Frassinelli, Museum spokesperson, at the dedication event. Frassinelli stressed how fortunate the Museum was that no one was in the building when the collapse occurred while thanking the construction crew and insurance company for also embracing the new attraction. “They have entertained our crazy requests – from saving sinkhole boulders for our landscaping, to salvaging dirt and rock that we bottled for sale in the Corvette Store,” she said. Frassinelli also commented that much of the Museum’s positive outcome from the sinkhole collapse is a result of being able to release video footage of the collapse as it occurred, and later allowing visitors to stand mere feet from the sinkhole to get an up close view.

“There is one chapter left to our story,” Frassinelli said. “Late this fall we are excited to welcome a special exhibit called Corvette Cave-In: The Skydome Sinkhole Experience. Visitors will learn the particulars of sinkholes, karst landscapes, and caves as well as what happened, why it happened, details on the eight Corvettes and how they were recovered and restored, and how the building was structurally repaired. The tour ends as the cave they are visiting virtually collapses over their heads to reveal their location underneath the Museum.”

The ceremony concluded with the caution tape cutting before rolling into a seminar on the restoration of the 1992 “1-millionth” Corvette. After more than four months and 1,200 man-hours of painstaking craftsmanship by the GM team, the restoration of the milestone car is complete, and the Corvette was unveiled in the Skydome.

The 1-millionth Corvette was one of the eight cars that fell victim to the February 12, 2014 sinkhole. And Chevrolet quickly came forward and pledged to restore it. After being rescued from the sinkhole, the 1-millionth Corvette was moved from the Museum to the Design Center on GM’s Technical Center campus in Warren, Mich., for restoration.

“As the one and only 1-millionth Corvette, its preservation was important to us as the designers of the vehicle – and as Corvette enthusiasts,” said Ed Welburn, vice president of GM Global Design. “The damage was significant in many ways; however we have one of the most highly skilled specialty shops and team of people in the industry, so they were fully prepared to take on the challenge.”

“Chevrolet is proud to have helped restore this extremely significant car in Corvette's long, storied history," said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. "When we disassembled it, we found that each employee involved in building it had signed a part of the car, which was fantastic and moving to see. It brought the history to life, and reinforced the importance of the project."

Despite extensive damage, GM’s team vowed to preserve and repair as many original components as possible – a decision that involved posterity as much as history, in order to preserve those signatures of the Bowling Green Assembly workers who built the car.

Only two signed components couldn’t be saved, so the team had the autographs scanned, reproduced as transfers and placed on the replacement parts.

One component with a single signature from Bowling Green Assembly employee Angela Lamb was too damaged to save or even accurately scan for her autograph. Lamb joined event attendees for the big reveal, signing her name on the replacement part. The 1-millionth Corvette is now historically accurate down to the last signature.

Among the parts replaced were the hood, front fascia and the lower panels between the front wheels and doors, as well as a number of ancillary supporting components under the hood. The replacements came from a vehicle of the same vintage and color, ensuring authenticity of the parts and materials involved with the restoration.

A few other components, such as the rear fascia and front exhaust system, would have probably been replaced in almost any other restoration project, but the team repaired them because they were also covered in signatures.

Additional highlights from the restoration:

  • The front sub-frame was damaged in the fall into the sinkhole and required straightening
  • The wheels were damaged, but reconditioned, with the original Goodyear Eagle GS-C tires
  • Rather than replace the scuffed and scratched pad on the instrument panel, its soft cover was carefully removed and replaced to preserve the employee-signed structure beneath it
  • The red leather seats, featuring one-off “1,000,000th Corvette” embroidery on the headrests were damaged but deemed irreplaceable, so they were restored, including a few replacement patches of carefully matched hide
  • The 5.7L LT1 engine, transmission and other drivetrain components were inspected and found to be damage-free

Surprisingly, the one component the team didn’t have to replace was the crushed windshield header. When the car first rolled into the shop, an overhead crane was used to raise it enough to make the car drivable, but the frame pulled up surprisingly close to the original position, encouraging the team to save it.

“The header restoration was a wonderful surprise for what everyone assumed would be the toughest aspect of the restoration,” said Bolognino. “With access to the original specifications, we got it spot-on – and even the new windshield glass dropped in perfectly.”

The final touch was replacing the unique “1,000,000th” windshield banner it wore when it rolled off the assembly line 23 years ago. The computer graphic file used for the original was still available, allowing creation of an identical banner.

The 1-millionth Corvette is the second sinkhole-damaged Corvette that Chevrolet has restored. The first, a 2009 Corvette ZR1 prototype known as the Blue Devil, was only lightly damaged and was returned to its original condition last fall.

The National Corvette Museum’s new Maintenance and Preservation Department will restore the third car, a 1962 Corvette. The five additional Corvettes swallowed by the sinkhole will remain in their as-recovered state to preserve the historical significance of the cars.

FAST FACT: The 1-Millionth Corvette rolled off the assembly line as a convertible with a white exterior and a red interior - just like the first Corvette produced in 1953.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

GM Foundation Donates $75,000 to 11 Area Organizations through Plant City Grants Program

The GM Foundation today donated $75,000 to 11 nonprofit organizations in the Bowling Green area, making this the fifth consecutive year the foundation’s Plant City Grants are being awarded in the home of the iconic Chevrolet Corvette.  In the last five years, GM Foundation donations in the region totaled $325,000, including Plant City Grants and a fully-funded Habitat for Humanity project in 2014.

“General Motors is committed to supporting the communities that our employees call home,” said GM Foundation Vice President Lori Wingerter. “This year, the GM Foundation plans to provide $2 million in funding to hundreds of organizations across the country that provide critical resources that families and neighborhoods rely on every day.”

The grants were announced and presented at the Boys & Girls Club of Bowling Green, where 24 GM employees spent their day volunteering to clean and organize the facility, room by room. In fact, a total of 80 GM employees from sites across the U.S. converged in Bowling Green this week to provide ride and drive opportunities and community service work as part of GM’s Outreach Program. In addition to the Boys & Girls Club, service projects included work at St. Vincent DePaul, New Beginnings Therapeutic Riding, the International Center of KY and KY Legal Aid.

The 2015 Bowling Green grant funds will support the following organizations and community programs: 

Barren River Area Safe Space, Inc. – The grant will be used for emergency assistance, resources and programs for regional domestic violence and homeless shelter residents.

Boys & Girls Club of Bowling Green – The donation will support reading programs to help ensure all Club members are on track to graduate from high school and are ready for college, trade school, the military or employment.

·         The Friends of the Lost River, Inc.Funds will be used to purchase a compact dump trailer to improve efficiency and sustainability, as well as tandem kayaks, allowing two people to travel in one kayak. These tandem kayaks will make the cave’s kayaking program safer for minors and those with impairments.
·         Public Theatre of Kentucky Funds will be used for the Sunburst Youth Theatre educational programming, including day camps where children ages 7-12 build their own props, do scenic painting, sound, lighting, costuming and acting, monologue workshops for 13-18 year-olds and other productions.
·         United Way of Southern Kentucky – Funding will be used to provide help in the areas of education, income and health & safety net for Warren County residents. It is clear that these issues are fundamentally connected; when one area is impacted, others may be impacted indirectly.

·         Family Enrichment Center – The grant will be used to provide more full-time childcare services to children whose families put them at risk.

·         African American Museum – Funds will be used to purchase electronic equipment and software that will enable audio/video, interactive and multimedia displays, along with other display essentials including stanchions, fiberboard display panels, mannequins, pedestals, stands and easels.

·         Bowling Green Alliance for Mentally Ill – The grant will be used to train two PTSD dogs and two veterans through the PETS-4-VETS (Providing Effective Therapy through Service Dogs) program, providing recovery support for veterans and their families.

·         CASA – Funds will be used to train 20 new volunteers, enabling them to serve 20 new families including approximately 30 or more dependent, neglected, abused and sexually abused children.

·         Center for Courageous Kids – The grant will support the Summer Camp Program for Critically Ill Children. The program is a traditional overnight camping experience held during 9, one-week sessions, where children meet other children living with the same condition and learn self-care skills while engaging in activities such as horseback riding, swimming, bowling, theatre, woodshop, boating, fishing and archery.

·         Recovery Kentucky Foundation, Inc. – Funds will be used to support their computer labs in western Kentucky recovery centers. These computers, printers and IT support services help residents complete their GED as well as develop skills related to job applications, resume writing and information technology.

“Through the GM Foundation Plant City Grants, these vital community organizations will be able to fund critical programs that help so many local families,” said Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Assistant Plant Manager Nora Roper. “We couldn’t be happier to support these local organizations.”

Friday, August 21, 2015

Macy's Awards Education Grant to Corvette Museum

The National Corvette Museum has received a $1,000 grant from Macy's to support youth Engineering with Minecraft Camps.

Across the country, support from Macy's and Bloomingdale’s giving programs helped sponsor free admission to museums and exhibits, special musical performances, art exhibits, and art and theatre workshops for children.

"In the past year we have hosted five Hooked on Science Engineering with Minecraft Camps, and all five of them have sold out with long wait lists," said Museum Education Coordinator Kellie Steen. "Through this support from Macy's we have already scheduled three more camps for September 21, 2015, January 18, 2016 and February 15, 2016 when many of the area school children are out for holidays. We are thrilled with this new partnership to bring more kids out to the Museum for educational opportunities."

Bowling Green's Macy's has continued to partner with the Museum by offering a Corvette Store presence within their Greenwood Mall location. Additionally, the Museum loans Corvettes to the store for display as a way to cross promote the brands. Labor Day Weekend, as part of the Museum’s 21st Anniversary Celebration, Macy’s will be display two additional Museum-owned Corvettes, a 1959 and a 1966.

“Macy’s prides itself on offering products from iconic American brands, and Corvette is THE American Sports Car. It was only natural for our Bowling Green store to form a meaningful and on-going partnership with the National Corvette Museum,” said Terry Busing, VP Store Manager at Macy’s. “We are excited that our grant will help bring additional Minecraft camps to the Museum.”

View and register for upcoming camps on our website at

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Museum Gifted 35th Anniversary Corvette

Rick and Deb Seymour with the 1988 35th Anniversary Corvette
It was 1988. The Seymours were in their early 30s and already owners of a 1985 Corvette. After seeing the new 35th Anniversary Edition on the cover of Vette Vues magazine they started to think about upgrading their Corvette to a newer model. “At first, our dealer didn’t think he was going to be able to get one of the special limited editions,” recalls Rick. But then the phone call came that they did indeed score one. “It was May 28 and we decided to go to the dealership to see it,” says Rick. “We walked into the showroom, and that was it.” The Seymours told the dealer they wanted it, to rope it off and they would be back for the car. “Our car payment was more than our house payment,” laughs Deb.

It doesn’t take long to understand why the Seymours get emotional when talking about the car. It was driven just a little here and there (racking up only 380 miles), and it was pampered, never being washed with a hose, except for when the wheels and tires needed cleaning. It is all original except for the battery, and gloves even kept body oil from making their way onto the steering wheel. “You might consider it a little nutty,” Rick chuckles. We reassured Rick that, while few in number, we do have a couple of cars with the plastic still covering the interior. But overall, this car is unlike most. It is a true Museum quality show piece in the same condition it was in when it rolled off the line. A well preserved example of those 2,050 35th Anniversary Corvettes made for 1988. The quality of the car’s condition would not go unnoticed.

When Bloomington Gold moved to the Seymour’s hometown of Champaign, IL they knew it was time to get the car certified. “We shipped the car in an enclosed trailer, and turned the trip into a wonderful celebration,” remembers Deb. “Lots of friends and family came to see the car get certified.” The car earned Bloomington Gold, Survivor and Benchmark Certifications before being returned home to Garden City, ID.

It was a 2006 trip to Bowling Green that convinced Lifetime Museum Members Rick and Deb that their baby should eventually return “home” to Kentucky. The couple participated in a R8C Corvette Delivery, picking up their new 2006 Z06 at the Museum and touring the GM plant, even getting to start up a car fresh off the assembly line. “That trip convinced us that this is our car’s home,” said Deb.

The couple had put the 1988 in their will for the Museum, but after reading that the Museum was seeking a 35th Anniversary Corvette for display, decided that now might be the time to go ahead and donate it.  “After it was certified, all it did was sit on a rack, covered,” explains Deb. “We decided we might as well donate it while we are still alive so we can come see it, and others can see it.”
The car was again loaded onto a transporter and shipped to Bowling Green, arriving at the Museum at the end of July. “This is a big part of our lives,” says Deb. “The opportunity to share it with so many people is just the best thing that could happen to us.”

Thank you to Richard and Debra for entrusting your beautiful piece of history to the Museum. The Corvette is now featured in the Skydome as part of an Anniversary and Special Edition display and is sure to be enjoyed by many visitors for years to come.