Earth swallowed cars to be restored

BRUCE SCHREINER
Last updated 14:16 14/02/2014
Reuters

Closed circuit cameras capture the dramatic moment a sinkhole swallows a number of vintage vehicles from the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.

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What Mother Earth devoured, Chevrolet plans to resurrect. The carmaker says it will oversee restoration of the classic cars swallowed by a huge sinkhole beneath the National Corvette Museum in the US state of Kentucky.

General Motors Design in Warren, Michigan, will manage the painstaking work to repair the eight prize vehicles, the automaker said Thursday (NZT Friday).

The cars were consumed when the earth opened up early Wednesday (NZT Thursday) beneath a display area when the museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was closed. No injuries were reported.

Mark Reuss, GM's head of global product development, said the damaged vehicles ranked as ''some of the most significant in automotive history''.

''There can only be one 1-millionth Corvette ever built,'' he said, referring to one of the damaged cars.

''We want to ensure as many of the damaged cars are restored as possible so fans from around the world can enjoy them.''

Just how the cars will be pulled out of the ground remains to be seen, said museum executive director Wendell Strode.

The local fire department estimated the hole was about 12m across and up to 9m deep. The hole opened beneath part of the museum's domed section.

The GM Design team has helped restore other historic cars, but the Corvette project looks to be its biggest, he said.

''These Corvettes are part of our history, and they want them restored properly,'' Strode said.

''We're thrilled they're doing this.''

The cars looked like toys as they plunged into the hole, piled in a heap amid dirt and concrete fragments. The museum owns six of the cars while two - a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder and a 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil - are on loan from General Motors.

The other cars damaged were a 1962 black Corvette, a 1984 PPG Pace Car, a 1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette, a 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette, a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette and a 2009 white 1.5 Millionth Corvette.

Pictures of the sinkhole showed a collapsed section of floor with multiple cars visible inside the hole. A few feet away, other Corvettes sat undamaged. They were later removed from the damaged area.

Sinkholes are common in the Bowling Green area, which sits in the midst of the state's largest karst region, where many of Kentucky's largest and deepest caves run underground.

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- AP

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