The storied one millionth Corvette is now back to what it once was. The car was originally made in 1992 and featured a white exterior with a black roof and a red interior, just like the first Corvette ever produced in 1953. The millionth Corvette had a 5.7 liter LT1 V8 engine and had custom seats with "1,000,000 Corvette" embroidered on them. It was on display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky when it was swallowed up in a sinkhole in February 2014.
After more than four months and 1,200 man hours, the millionth Corvette has finally been fully restored. GM decided to do the restoration in-house, and the decision was made to restore as many of the car's original components as possible in order to maintain the vehicle's originality. A team of 30 was assembled from GM's Service Operations and GM Design's Mechanical Assembly group to restore the landmark car. The restorations were done at the Design Center on GM's Technical Center campus in Warren, Michigan.
This little white Corvette was one of the lucky ones as eight rare corvettes were swallowed up whole and many were completely devoured. Five other damaged cars are now part of a sinkhole themed exhibit at the company's museum. Car #1 million was pulled out of the sinkhole with a crane and luckily the frame popped up very close to its original position. The team used as many original parts as possible, rather than replacing them with spares. The car was covered in mud and had its windshield and A-pillar smashed in.
The team was able to save all but two of the original body panels, although the car's hood and front fascia were not able to be saved. A majority of the damage was suffered by the sub-frame, which had to be straightened out. The car also had damage to the seats, two wheels, and many of its suspension components. The lower panels between the front wheels and doors needed to be replaced, as well as some secondary components in the engine bay that came from a donor car of the same vintage and color.
One of the big things about the one millionth Corvette that the team wanted to save were the many employees' signatures that were a part of it. All but two of the original John Hancock's were saved, and those two were able to be scanned and reproduced from the originals. Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain said "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." David Bolognino, GM's director of Global Design Fabrications Operations said that the automaker "went to great lengths to preserve every autograph. In the end, we saved every one of them, which was an unexpected and important element to the restoration."
One of the final steps was replacing the "1,000,000" windshield banner on the vehicle. The team used the original computer graphic file from 1992 to reproduce that special touch. The one millionth Corvette was not the only car damaged by the sinkhole to be restored by GM. The team has already finished restoring a 2009 Blue Devil Corvette ZR1 prototype and up next will be a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette roadster.