Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ike Dodrill Donates Late Brother Jim's Corvette

Sandra, James and Jim Dodrill at the Lone Star Corvette Classic
It was April 22, 1989 - 100 years after the Oklahoma Territory Land Run and many in the Sooner State were commemorating the occasion with various deals and specials. One such promotion was at the Chevrolet dealership in Oklahoma City, which advertised all cars on sale for only $89 over invoice. Jim Dodrill saw this as the perfect opportunity to score a much lusted after Corvette. Luckily, the lot had three to choose from, and it was a brand new 1989 Medium Blue Metallic Corvette that he brought home.

Younger brother, Ike (Lifetime Museum Member), fondly remembers the day Jim came home with the car, and the memories that were made over the next 20 years. “We took many trips in that car… to Bloomington Gold, it’s been driven in the Caravan, and several times to the Lone Star Corvette Club event at the Texas Motor Speedway.”

Sadly, Jim suffered a massive heart attack in 2009 and unexpectedly passed away. Over time, Jim’s widow, Sandra, and son, James, decided the car might make a good vehicle for James to drive. It wasn’t running at the time so Ike stepped in to fix it, and before long James was driving the Vette. As with most cars over 20 years old the Corvette started to have issues. James reverted to driving an old truck until it hit 200,000 miles and was ready to be retired for something more reliable. Sandra thought trading in both the Corvette and truck for something newer would be best – prompting Ike to issue a proposition. “I asked if I could buy the car, get it running and then donate it to the Museum in memory of Jim. The car had 28,000 miles on it,” Ike said.  “They discussed it and decided it was the best thing to do.”

Ike Dodrill donates his late brother's Corvette
Ike rebuilt the headlight motors, alternator, replaced the fuel pump/sender unit, fuel injectors, cleaned the throttle body, replaced the top, changed out plugs, wires, ignition system, coil cap, and gave it a basic tune up, a new battery and new tires. “I essentially tried to make it as reliable of a car as we could with the hope that the Museum would be able to use it for any kind of parades, track events, VIP events, anything like that,” Ike said. “My hope is that you guys will have some wonderful times with the car, too.”

When asked what Jim would think about the car’s new home Ike can’t help but smile. “I think he’s up there smiling right now, looking down on us. I think he’s very pleased. I am. I think this is a wonderful thing that we can do for the Museum and I hope that more and more people are able to do the same thing.”

Thank you, Ike, for your generosity and dedication to seeing Jim’s legacy live on. We are sure there are many more memories to be made with the car.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Museum Gifted Two Corvettes

William (Bill) Engel, Jr. a.k.a. “Sweat Hog” of Albany, NY; Ridgewood, NJ and now Summit, NY has owned three Corvettes, equally spaced 20 years apart and each with its own memories. The first was a 1967, bought May 24, 1971 as the third owner. “At the time of purchase the engine was dismantled and there was a swallowed valve which had put a hole in the #7 cylinder,” Bill recalled. “I rebuilt the engine and put a sleeve in the #7 cylinder. The car was functional and on the road by 1972,” he added.

Bill joined the Tri Vettes Ltd. Corvette Club of East Greenbush, NY and while in the club he raced the car on closed course tracks and in road rallies. He was one of the members that was instrumental in winning the North East NCCC Championships in 1974. Today, the car is still road worthy and about 85% original.

In 1986 Bill purchased Corvette number two… a 1987 Coupe that he picked up from McGuire Chevrolet in North Bergen, NJ on New Year’s Eve. It was his daily driver for about ten years.
Finally, to complete his collection spanning 40 years, Bill purchased a 2007 Atomic Orange Corvette. The car had to be shipped from a dealer in Illinois to Hawthorne Chevrolet in New Jersey as it was the last one of this color.

Sadly, Bill was diagnosed last December with inoperable liver cancer. Like most Corvette owners, he didn’t want to sell his cars, and didn’t want anything changed on the 1967.  “I had been a member of the Museum for awhile and had been reading articles in the magazine about recent car donations,” Bill said.  “Donating my 1967 and 1987 was a good way to ensure the cars would be cared for.”

Thanks to Bill for his generosity and passion, ensuring the history of Corvette is passed down to future generations and enthusiasts to come!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

GM Corvette Assembly Plant Announces New Plant Manager

Kai Spande
General Motors announced today the new Plant Manager for their Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Kai Spande, Director of European Powertrain Test Facilities, Engineering Operations and Quality will take the helm, reporting to Arvin Jones, Manufacturing Manager, North American Manufacturing, General Motors. Kai replaces Jeffrey Lamarche who was promoted to the position of Plant Manager Flint Assembly and Stamping. The organizational change is effective September 1st.

Kai has been instrumental in accelerating the implementation of GMS in the European Laps and PPO operations, and in leading a 250M Euro upgrade of the Powertrain test facilities in Turino, Italy, Ruesselsheim, Germany, and at the Dudenhoffe Proving Grounds in Germany, according to an email from GM. He has also been a key contributor and valued member of the European Powertrain Engineering staff. Kai's replacement will be named at a later date.

Congratulations and welcome to Kai! We look forward to having you be a part of Team Corvette and the Bowling Green community!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Chevrolet Releases 2015 Corvette Final Model Counts

While the last Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Bowling Green, KY just over a week ago (Wednesday, June 17 to be exact), Chevrolet has already shared with us their final model year counts for the 2015 Corvette. Corvette sales were down 8% from 2014 (37,288 vs 34,240), but model year 2015 was shorter than 2014 which would account for the dip.

The Museum delivered 1,049 of the 2015 model year cars, the 2nd highest number of Corvettes delivered when compared to Chevrolet Dealerships, and as Harlan Charles, Chevrolet Corvette Product Manager said, "If you were your own country, you would be 3rd after the US and Canada."

Let's take a look at some of the stats:

Stingray Coupes were the most popular model with 60.6%, followed by Z06 Coupes at 20.4%, Stingray Convertibles at 14.1% and Z06 Convertibles at 4.9%.

The 2LT Package was the most popular for the Stingray with 42% of the models having it, but Z06 buyers preferred the 3LT, boasting 69% with that option.

The Z51 Performance Package was another popular option with 53% of buyers opting for it while the Z07 option was added to only 39% of the Z06s.

At the April 2014 Bash at the National Corvette Museum, Chevrolet revealed two new appearance packages: Atlantic and Pacific. If you went with either package - you now have a pretty rare Corvette as only 17 Corvettes are optioned with Atlantic, and 97 with Pacific.

Automatics once again took the top spot with 68% of Corvette buyers selecting a paddle shift transmission. The Z06 for the first time gave buyers the chance to option the performance Corvette with an automatic, and 48% of buyers did so. 90% of Corvette buyers also added Performance Exhaust.

Black wheels took the cake for both Stingray and Z06 models with 36% of Stingrays optioned with Painted Black ZF1/Z51 wheels, and 54% with Black Z06 wheels (note: the Stingray offered a wider selection of wheels than the Z06). Red calipers were also popular, with 54% of Corvettes having them.

Black was also popular inside the car with 45% of Corvettes having Black Leather Interior. 82% of the convertibles had a black top. GT seats were also popular being used in 86% of the cars.

And finally, the exterior colors. Arctic White took top honors with 18.9% or 6,461 of the cars followed by Torch Red (16.4% or 5,625 cars); Shark Gray (15% / 5,130); Black (15% / 5,128); Laguna Blue (8.8% / 3,015); Crystal Red (6.4% / 2,191); Velocity Yellow (6% / 2,065); Blade Silver (5.2% / 1,791); Night Race Blue and Daytona Sunrise Orange (each with 4.1% or 1,417 cars per color). Of course if you add together the two "reds" you get 23% which would then make red the most popular.

To download the complete list of final counts for the 2015 model year, click here.

To see the specs and details for 2015 Corvettes click here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sinkhole-Swallowed 1 Millionth Corvette Restoration Underway

Milestone damaged when earth opened beneath National Corvette Museum

Craftspeople and technicians at the General Motors Design Center are painstakingly restoring the historic 1 millionth Chevrolet Corvette damaged nearly 16 months ago when a sinkhole opened beneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky.

The restoration crew is part of GM’s Mechanical Assembly group at the Design Center, which typically spends its time building prototype and concept vehicles. The white 1992 Corvette is a challenge because rather than build an all-new vehicle from the ground up, the workers are trying to preserve the original appearance of a production vehicle.

It is the second of three sinkhole-damaged Corvettes that Chevrolet has pledged to restore. 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 will oversee the restoration of the third car, a 1962 Corvette.

Five other Corvettes swallowed by the sinkhole will remain in their as-recovered state to preserve the historical significance of the cars. They will become part of a future sinkhole-themed display at the museum.

Sinkhole summary

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, at 5:44 a.m., National Corvette Museum personnel were notified by their security company about the burglar alarm going off in the Skydome area of the museum. Upon arrival at the museum, a sinkhole measuring about 45-by-60 feet wide and 30-foot deep was discovered.

Security camera footage showing the Skydome floor’s collapse has been viewed more than 8.5 million times on YouTube.

Eight historic Corvettes – two on loan from GM and six owned by the museum – were swallowed that day:

  • 1993 ZR-1 Spyder (on loan)
  • 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” prototype (on loan)
  • 1962 Corvette
  • 1984 PPG Pace Car
  • 1992 1 millionth Corvette
  • 1993 40th Anniversary Corvette
  • 2001 “Mallett Hammer” Z06
  • 2009 1.5 millionth Corvette

On March 3, 2014, the 2009 Blue Devil was the first car recovered and despite significant damage was started and driven out of the Skydome. The 1.5 millionth Corvette and Mallet Corvette were the last cars pulled from the sinkhole, on April 3 and April 9, respectively – after workers were initially unable to find them amid the collapsed earth.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chevrolet Corvette Plant Gets $439 Million in Upgrades

New, environment-friendly paint shop drives efficient production, retains 150 jobs
North American Manufacturing Manager Arvin Jones
Torch Red, Shark Gray Metallic and Laguna Blue Tintcoat, three popular palate choices on the 2015 Corvette, kept the marketers who make up names working late. Now they can dream about more painstakingly precise pigments, thanks to a new paint shop that is among $439 million being invested at the only plant in the world that builds Chevrolet’s iconic sports car.
General Motors announced the moves today that include retaining 150 jobs and building the 450,000 square-foot paint shop that is almost half the size of the entire current production facility. The investment builds on approximately $135 million GM has invested in the plant over the last four years for the new Corvette Stingray and Performance Build Center. The announcement was followed by a groundbreaking event for the new paint shop.
 “The Corvette is one of Kentucky’s most-cherished icons,” said. Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen. “Such a significant expansion of the Bowling Green Assembly Plant will help the company remain competitive in the region and around the world.”
Construction of the new paint shop, which includes substantial technology upgrades, is planned to begin this summer and take approximately two years to complete. Corvette production schedules will be unaffected by the construction.
Along with new tooling and robots, the paint shop’s state-of-the-art environmental and efficiency enhancements include:
  • Dry Scrubber Booth Technology with Limestone Handling System designed to eliminate sludge water and waste
  • Light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting for process decks for improved visual inspection as well as energy savings
  • State-of-the-art FANUC robots with Versa-bell 3 electrostatic applicators for an extremely smooth finish and maximum transfer efficiency, saving 25 percent of the paint material used, which also benefits the environment
  • Longer, high-efficiency baking ovens for exceptional paint finish and lower energy use.
“With this major technology investment, we can continue to exceed the expectations of sports car buyers for years to come,” said North American Manufacturing Manager Arvin Jones. “These types of investments are evidence that the customer is at the center of every decision we make.”
Said UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada: “This new paint shop will mirror the efficiencies and technologies of the new body shop, installed with the launch of the Stingray. Hardworking UAW members have proudly built vehicles in Bowling Green for more than 30 years, and we are pleased to be a part of such a significant facility upgrade.”
Corvette production began in 1981 in Bowling Green following assembly in Flint, Mich., and St. Louis. Each has been an exclusive home of the Corvette, contributing to its distinction as the world’s longest-running, continuously produced passenger car. More than 1.6 million have been produced in 62 years.
Since the launch of the all-new 2014 Stingray, the Corvette has won more awards than any other car in the industry, including the 2014 American Car of the YearCar & Driver’s 10 Best and Automobile Magazine’s Automobile of the Year.
Building on that recognition, Corvette sales reached an eight-year high in 2014 with almost 38,000 cars sold globally. The plant welcomed a record 56,000 tourists last year.
The new Performance Build Center opened last year and in March began hosting customers in the Build Your Own Engine program. More information about Bowling Green Assembly is available at
The investments in Bowling Green are part of the $5.4 billion that GM said April 30 it would invest in U.S. facilities over the next three years. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

From Moonshine to Finish Line: Corvette Museum Showcases History of NASCAR with New Exhibit

Well before modified race cars plastered with sponsor logos took to oval tracks across the country, small, fast stock cars could be seen speeding around the Appalachian region carrying bootleg whiskey, attempting to evade police. Drivers would modify their cars to make them quick and nimble, maximizing speed as well as space to carry their precious cargo. The sport of “runnin’ shine” eventually evolved and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was officially founded in 1948 by Bill France, Sr. Today the sport is second to the NFL among professional sports franchises when it comes to television ratings in the United States.

The National Corvette Museum’s Exhibit Hall is hosting a special exhibit to pay homage to the sport, from its early roots of moonshine running, to today’s multi-billion dollar industry. The exhibit includes 14 cars from a 1940s Moonshine runner, to recent race winners. The line-up includes: #3 - Dale Earnhardt Wheaties Chevrolet 1997 Monte Carlo; #3 - Junior Johnson 1963 Chevrolet Impala SS; #6 - Mark Martin 1994 Valvoline Ford; #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS; #16 - Greg Biffle 2013 3M (1,000th NASCAR win for Ford); #17 - Darrell Waltrip Tide 1987 Monte Carlo; #24 - Jeff Gordon DuPont Fire & Flames Design, 2005 Monte Carlo; #27 - 1953 Corvette NASCAR; #43 - Richard Petty 1986/87 Pontiac Aero; #48 - Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Power of Pride Design 2003 Monte Carlo; #72 - Benny Parsons 1973 Chevelle, Winston Cup Winner; #88 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 2008 Impala SS; and #97 - Kurt Busch 2004 Nextel Championship Winning Taurus.

The special exhibit opened Friday, May 15 and runs through Sunday, September 13. It is included with regular Museum admission. To learn more about each car and see photos, visit