Third Corvette freed from sinkhole

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Black '62 Corvette is removed from the sinkhole in early March, 2014 | National Corvette Museum photo
Third Corvette is pulled from sinkhole | National Corvette Museum
Third Corvette is pulled from sinkhole | National Corvette Museum

The National Corvette Museum reports that the third of eight Chevrolet Corvettes swallowed by a sinkhole beneath the museum’s Skydome was extracted Tuesday and will be put on display beside the others already rescued.

Emerging Tuesday was a black 1962 Corvette.

“I see body damage. The chassis looks intact, the frame’s not bent, the interior (other than being a little dirty) is pristine. So, I think it’s some fiberglass work, some ornamentation work, and paint,” said John Spencer, manufacturing integration manager at the GM Corvette Assembly Plant, which is across the street from the museum.

Damage is surprisingly light | National Corvette Museum
Damage is surprisingly light | National Corvette Museum

“This car is in amazing shape considering what it’s been through,” he added. “I don’t see anything unrepairable.”

After the 2009 “Blue Devil” ZR1 and Ruby Red 1993 40th Anniversary car were removed from the hole Monday, a crew began work early Tuesday, first extracting a portion of a car lift that had become mangled around black ’62. The team also removed the hood from the ’62 and secured a strap to the engine bay.

Holes were drilled as anchors in a slab of concrete that appeared to be wedged into the car’s grill. However, while hooking lifting devices to the car, the crew discovered the car could be removed without lifting the slab.

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“Really, all that went better than I expected” said Mike Murphy of Scott, Murphy and Daniel Construction.

“I’m tickled to death that we were able to get those three cars out with no problems, and they were in good condition,” he added.

Murphy said the next step will be to remove the concrete slab and the rest of the car lift. After those are out of the hole, work will begin to stabilize and to secure the tall red spire that rises within the dome and to do the same to the walls of the sinkhole. After those tasks are completed, work will begin to remove the remaining cars.

[pullquote]

I’m tickled to death that we were able to get those three cars out with no problems,”

— Mike Murphy

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The three cars already removed are on display in the museum’s Exhibition Hall. The other five will join them, though perhaps not until late April, the museum said in its news release.

Plans call for a formal exhibit of the cars “as is,” along with various photos, videos, information and artifacts concerning the sinkhole and recovery, through August 3. After that date, the cars will travel to Michigan for restoration at General Motors.

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“While we don’t know exactly how long the repair and remediation of the sinkhole will take,” said museum executive Wendell Strode. “We feel confident that the Skydome will be as good as new in time for the museum’s 20th anniversary celebration (in late August).”

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.