The Rearview Mirror: A New Home for the Chevrolet Corvette

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The first Corvettes ended up created in Flint, Michigan. Only 300 were produced for 1953 — in advance of output moved to St. Louis for 1954.

It is the oldest consistently developed passenger car or truck nameplate in the entire world: the Chevrolet Corvette. But irrespective of its several decades in manufacturing, it is only been crafted in 3 factories. And this 7 days in 1981, it moved to its present-day location in Bowling Environmentally friendly, Kentucky. 

How it got right here

Right until 1981, St. Louis served as the Corvette’s property, despite an uncomfortable debut for 1953, when it appeared that America’s sports activities automobile didn’t have a lot of a foreseeable future. 

Debuting in 1953 adhering to its before unveiling at Normal Motors’ Motorama, the Corvette’s availability was to begin with limited to 300 units and sold only to the loaded and famed. The try to stoke drive for the new two-seater flopped.

When total production ramped up in 1954, the public’s consideration experienced moved on. With meager product sales, GM executives considered cancelling the Corvette — right until the arrival of Ford’s Thunderbird transformed their minds. 

An aged plant builds a new sports car

On July 2, 1992, the 1-millionth Chevrolet Corvette rolled off the Bowling Environmentally friendly assembly line.

To begin with built in a modest assembly operation in Flint, Michigan, production was moved to St. Louis, Missouri for 1954. One of GM’s oldest crops, Corvettes ended up crafted in the Wood Spoke Making, in which GM produced the wooden spokes for their wheels in the early 20th century.

But the out-of-date St. Louis manufacturing unit would continue to be the Corvette’s home in the following decades. But in the 1970s, the plant’s remaining 10 years of Corvette generation, it would be the site of a harassing strike by the UAW.

GM was lessening the range of employees at the plant, though raising the amount of money of work each and every employee was assigned. The strike lasted 3 days, but the acrimony, worsening environmental challenges, and the want by administration to strengthen the Corvette’s excellent led the enterprise to search for a new household for its athletics car or truck.

St. Louis was shut, and manufacturing shifted to a former Chrysler Airtemp factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky, wherever Chrysler created significant, rooftop air-conditioning models. Found approximately 60 miles northeast of Nashville and 100 miles southwest of Louisville, Chrysler sold Airtemp to Fedders Company in 1975. The following yr, the plant was closed and the facility’s ownership reverted to the city of Bowling Eco-friendly. GM took about the plant in 1979, which agreed to lease the plant for 30 several years, right after which position GM could purchase it for $1.

Robotic physique transfer on the body line, in the Human body Shop at the Common Motors Bowling Green Corvette Assembly plant.

Output was slated to start out on June 1, 1981, with production at St. Louis and Bowling Eco-friendly overlapping by numerous months. 

A new plant begets a new Corvette

The new GM facility measured close to 500,000 square feet, with an additional 500,000 sq. toes additional for a paint shop, powerhouse and sludge treatment facility. Supplied that Bowling Green’s output get started would come prior to creation finished in St. Louis, tooling wouldn’t carry about from the old plant.

The new plant also intended there would be a new Corvette. 

The third technology Corvette was the longest lived, obtaining debuted for 1968 and surviving by means of 1982. But GM’s outdated St. Louis plant and the variable establish top quality that emanated from it intended that executives would not eco-friendly gentle a new Corvette, a person all-new from the floor up, until eventually a new plant was up and operating. Once GM secured the plant, executives accepted enhancement of the C4 Corvette, with style operate starting in 1978.

Restoring the 1-millionth Corvette just after it was destroyed in the sinkhole that opened up beneath the Countrywide Corvette Museum in 2014.

At the time output started at Bowling Green three many years later on, it has been the Corvette’s home at any time given that. Originally building the C3, it would give way to the C4 in 1984, the C5 in 1996, the C6 in 2004, the C7 in 2013, and the extended-predicted mid-motor C8 in 2020, which the plant continues to create right now.

The facility also developed the Corvette-based mostly Cadillac XLR from 2003 via 2009. In 2016, GM invested $436 million in the paint and body line, and included 44,000 sq. feet of house in advance of the start of manufacturing for the new C8.

A be aware of infamy

Whilst Corvette supporters know of Bowling Environmentally friendly as its household, if mainstream The united states recollects Corvettes and Bowling Environmentally friendly, it is for the Countrywide Corvette Museum, which opened in 1994, a quarter-mile from the plant.

There, in 2014, eight vintage Corvettes sunk into a 40-foot huge, 30-foot-deep sinkhole. Six of the cars were owned by the museum, two by GM. Of the 8, five ended up set again on screen unrestored, and 3 were restored. These days, it’s just a different odd footnote to a automobile that has turn out to be an ongoing American cultural icon made in The Bluegrass Point out.

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