The Corvette Museum: Learning the History of Chevy Corvettes

For the lovers of everything Corvette, there is only one place on this earth that properly amasses everything that we adore about them. In south-central Kentucky, in the United States, those who decide to pick up a map and pay a visit will be able to notice two havens dedicated to admiration for the Corvettes, their significance, and their history. On one side, we have the Corvette assembly plant. On another, the National Corvette Museum rises proudly as one of the greatest homages brought to the history of the Corvette.

Both the assembly plant and the Corvette Museum are located in the city of Bowling Green. There’s less bowling going on the area though, with the focus being on the Corvettes and all. So, assuming you’re also a Corvette enthusiast, a trip to Bowling Green is obligatory if you haven’t journeyed there until now. We won’t be spoiling any of the things that you’ll be able to find inside, but we will provide a little guide talking about how the museum came to be, the evolution of the Corvette that’s so neatly showcased by it, and the famed sinkhole that had everyone mourning eight innocent Corvettes.

Bowling Green Assembly Plant Sign

A Short History of Corvette Museum

The man with the idea was called Terry McManmon, a fellow Corvette enthusiast who took his passion to the next level by joining the National Corvette Restorers Society. Even though he attended his very first meeting in 1984, he came already prepared with a suggestion that eventually paved the path to the Corvette Museum as a concept. He proposed to the NCRS that they could try to gather archives, pieces, and other various Corvette-related items and then store them in a technical library.

He knew what he wanted – a non-profit organization that would cherish the heirloom of the Corvette. However, it wasn’t as simple as it sounded. Despite the fact that the members of the NCRS were all united by their common love for Corvettes, the issue of bureaucracy and the troubles regarding funding and resources became a major obstacle in the way of the project’s materialization.

McManmon struggled to turn his dream into reality for a couple of years. Even though he had the support of several other members and he ventured on a campaign meant to promote the benefits of the library/museum, support wasn’t quick to flock his way.

corvette museum outdoor view

On March 18, 1986, McManmon expressed his concerns and voiced his urgency by writing a letter to the board, addressed to John Amgwert. His main worry was that the longer they dwelled and dilly-dallied, delaying the project, the more precious time was wasted. As they still struggled to determine whether the Corvette Museum would become a reality or not, precious materials fundamental to restoration and Corvette preservation were getting lost.

McManmon eventually manage to come forward with his idea through a presentation at one of the NCRS’ conventions hosted in Sparks, Nevada. It seemed to have been his ticket to dream accomplishment, as he was eventually granted a committee that would eventually keep pushing the museum forward until the very finalization of its construction.

Either way, as they say, the rest was all history. The Corvette Museum managed to open its doors in 1994 after ten years of struggles, collaborations, and attempts to make the museum grow and keep it steady. The most noteworthy thing about the Corvette Museum is that it was raised out of the idea of a simple man, who simply desired to contribute in more ways to his passion toward the legacy of the Corvette.

By constantly insisting and pushing forward with his idea, he managed to gain enough support from the people of Bowling Green, Corvette lovers, and Chevrolet itself to establish a compound that doesn’t look like it’s ready to shut its gates any time soon.

corvette shot up close

Source

Corvette Museum Presenting the Corvette Timeline

Both on their website and through their exhibits, the Corvette Timeline manages to cover all aspects of the Corvette. They provide both insightful and shortened versions of the stories behind their concept and creations, starting with the very first full-scale ’53 Corvette and continuing to get updated as new models get released.

Here are some of the key points in Corvette history as displayed by the Corvette Museum.

C1

  • 1953: The first fully-fledged Corvette was presented at GM’s Motorama. The automobile was advertised as a “dream car.” Later that year, on June 30, the first tangible Corvette rolled through the gates of the assembly line located in Flint, Michigan. The car proved to be a success, as displayed by the fact that only a few months later, plans for the 1954 model were already in the works.
  • 1956: The Corvette gets a make-over. Adapting to the trend dictated by the time, the freshly redesigned Corvette flaunted chrome outlines, rolled-up windows, sculpted sides, and headlamps. The new model also represents a beginning for factory-installed features, which now included removable hardtops and seatbelts.’

1957 Chevrolet Corvette White

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  • 1963: The super popular 1963 Corvette becomes a reality and it’s as refreshing as it gets. The new design combined style with the unmistakable vibes a sports car and it was heavily inspired by Bill Mitchel’s 1959 Stingray. It was also the first year of the Corvette coupe, but the first and last of the split-window coupe.
  • 1966: Another factory-instilled premiere – driver and passenger headrests. They debut with the 1966 model under the form of optional equipment.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rear Split Window

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  • 1968: The Corvettes get funky once the third generation kicks in. The new model is yet another revamp that brings in a new and fresh look. The 1968 Corvette sets an example for other production cars by providing T-top removable roof panels.
  • 1969: A big milestone is hit – the 250,000th Corvette comes out of the production lines of the St. Louis factory. The car was a gold convertible, which had the Stingray script embedded above the fender louvers.

1970 Corvette Blue on Blue

And we’ll call it a halt over here. Not because we ran out of information, but because of the literal opposite. We only covered one hundredth of the history and information the Corvette Museum has to offer, so we encourage to pay them a visit to find out the continuation of this fascinating timeline.

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