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Retrieval Of Sinkhole Swallowed Corvettes Begins

By now most people have heard about the sinkhole that opened up at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY, on February 12. Eight of the museum's prized, collectible Corvettes were swallowed up by the Earth.

Recovery has now begun this week. As of today, three of the eight vehicles have been recovered in front of an audience of cheering spectators and thousands of online viewers as the cars were lifted by crane and placed at ground level.

Among the vehicles recovered were the 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil, which is on loan from General Motors, and the 1993 Ruby Red 40th anniversary edition. The Blue Devil, which had plunged nearly 30 feet but landed on it's wheels, seems to have survived with only minor damage including a ruptured oil line, a broken window and cracks on the lower part of it's door panels. Once it was lifted, workers were able to get the car running again, and drove it 20 feet to the museum's doorway.

The Ruby Red 40th anniversary edition didn't fare so well. It sustained severe front and rear end damage as well as broken windows. It's said to be in good shape mechanically, the frame pretty straight, steering gear in working order and the underbody intact. The body panels and windows will need to be replaced though.

These two collectible Corvettes were followed by a much trickier recovery, a black 1962 model that was resting under a five-ton slab of concrete. The recovery team used two cranes simultaneously; one to lift the car and the other to lift the concrete slab. Workers in a crush-proof cage hooked straps around each car, before lifting them from the giant pit very slowly with a crane.

Still underground lies the 1-millionth Vette that was built in 1992, as well as a 1984 PPG pace car, a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06, a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder and the 1.5-millionth Corvette that was built in 2009. Total value of the eight cars exceeds $1 million. It's been said that the millionth corvette could be worth millions alone to the right buyer.

The next step is to further stabilize the sinkhole, before an attempt can be made to retrieve the other vehicles down there. Recovery of all the missing Corvettes is expected to take through mid-April. The eight will continue to be displayed at the museum until August 3, when they will be shipped to Detroit for restoration at GM Design.

The giant sinkhole measuring about 40 feet across by 60 feet deep opened up beneath a display area at the museum last month while the museum was closed. No one was injured. Sinkholes are not unusual in the area, which has many large and deep caves running underground. Mammoth Cave National Park is about 20 miles from Bowling Green.

There are webcams positioned around the sinkhole, and can be viewed on the museum's website.

Here is a video look of the sinkhole and the retrieval of the Corvettes.

By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca

 

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