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

2007 Ron Fellows Edition Z06 Donated to Museum

Volunteers are the lifeblood of most nonprofit organizations and the same is true at the National Corvette Museum. Many of you not only volunteer your time during our Museum events, but you also work the Corvette Store at car shows across the country, plan Corvette Club group visits to volunteer, and even visit us multiple times throughout the year – just to help out around the Museum.  Randy Pierce and Charla Heintz and two such people who come to Bowling Green, simply to help out where they can around the Museum.

“I got to know Randy and Charla when they started volunteering at the Museum,” said Betty Hardison, Library & Archives Coordinator. “That was probably 10-15 years ago. There’s no telling how many hours they spend here. They come at least 6-8 times a year for a week at a time just to volunteer.” 

Betty shared that you’ll often find them in the Corvette Store working, but that Randy also picks up oversized items across the country, typically things people have donated, and delivers them to the Museum.  “He picked up several pallets of little model Corvettes in Pennsylvania; about 2,600 automotive magazines in New York… he goes anywhere for us,” Betty added.

Gary Cockriel, Development Officer for the Museum, reiterated Randy and Charla’s commitment. “I don’t think we’ve ever called on them, and they not help us do something. Ever.” Gary shared that while Randy and Charla will volunteer for the Museum, they also are Lifetime Members, have loaned cars for display, are in the Duntov Society, participated in R8C Museum Deliveries and an Xperience, have Walk of Fame bricks, and more.

Randy came to Betty in January when he and Charla were volunteering at the Museum and told her he had a surprise. “He said he was going to be donating their 2007 Ron Fellows Edition Z06 Corvette to the Museum during the April Bash event, but he wanted to surprise everyone.”  Betty said that with the car being a Special Edition, they didn’t drive it much to keep the miles low.

“I figured because this one is such a unique car, it’s a numbered car… we might as well donate it now and get some fun out of it being down there,” Randy said.  “It’s probably the only one of that edition to be donated to the Museum, and we will get more pleasure out of it being down at the Museum.”
The 2007 Ron Fellows Special Edition Z06 was created to honor the famed American LeMans Series GT1 racer, and was the first signed limited edition in Corvette history. It was Arctic White with Monterey Red front fender stripes, and had a unique interior and exterior trim. Only 399 were built, including 300 for the U.S., 33 for Canada and 66 for other markets.

“This is a rare edition and we are excited to have it for display,” said Betty. “It is with the help of Randy and Charla and other Museum supporters that we are able to continue preserving the history of Corvette. Their car will be enjoyed by visitors for many years to come.”

“It’s part of our life anymore, the Corvette family,” Randy added. “We enjoy everyone at the Museum and the Museum itself, all the people that come with it, the volunteers and employees.”

Thanks to Randy and Charla not only for this generous donation, but for their on-going support of the Museum!