Today we got and headed an hour north to Bowling Green, Kentucky to visit the Corvette Factory. The Corvette was introduced late in the 1953 model year and is known as America’s Sports Car. In 1953 300 Corvettes were made, during the 2011 model year 13,222 cars were built bringing the total number built to over 1.5 million. During the tour today they said that about 80 cars roll off the line 4 days a week.
The original 300 Corvettes were built on a makeshift assembly line in Flint, Michigan. Production moved to St. Louis in December of 1953. GM moved Corvette production to a 1 million square foot factory in Bowling Green in June of 1981.
There are two assembly lines within the building – they build the chassis on one line and the body on a second line (called the trim line). The two lines come together and they marry a chassis complete with engine, transmission and drive shaft with body for the remainder of the assembly. We started our tour watching a safety video. After the video we joined the trim line near the start where they were putting fenders together. We followed the trim line watching them assemble the body of the car and witnessed the marriage of the chassis and body together (we had to go out for doughnuts later in the day). We the then followed the line watching the rest of the assembly process all the way to the point where the start the engine and drive it off the line.
It was really amazing watching the process and seeing individual parts turn into a sports car. Sorry no pictures they do not allow cameras or cell phones in the building.
After visiting the assembly plant we visited the National Corvette Museum. The museum was built in 1994 and was originally going to be a library to archive documents relating to Corvettes and the history of them. When someone offered to give a classic Corvette if a museum was built, the plans changed. We spent a couple of hours looking at beautiful cars.
The car in the upper left is Roy Orbison’s 1967 Corvette, the upper right is only Corvette ever owned by Zora Arkus-Duntov (known as the patron saint of Corvette’s). Bottom left is a group of Corvettes that served as Pace Cars in the Indianapolis 500, and the one on the lower right is the color that Leslie said hers would be.
Tomorrow – back to the Grand Ole Opry