Imagine watching a new Corvette roll off the assembly line, riding in one for a hot lap at the NCM Motorsports Park and then seeing icons throughout history on display at the National Corvette Museum. How could a visit to the Home of America’s Sports Car get any better? What if you could watch those classic cars being preserved and maintained, and even learn from an expert how it is done? That’s exactly the new experience the Museum is working to bring to visitors.
A 501 (c)(3) nonprofit created to preserve the history of America’s Sports Car, the National Corvette Museum is remodeling an area that will be dedicated to the care and maintenance of the Museum’s car collection. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch work in progress, and in some cases interact and ask questions. The new Maintenance and Preservation area will also provide a location for seminars and training classes on car care, maintenance or just basic mechanics.
“Several years ago we started offering a ‘Powder Puff Mechanics’ class for Girl Scouts and anyone who wanted to become better educated about what’s under the hood of their car as well as how to be a better automotive consumer,” said Katie Frassinelli, Marketing and Communications Manager. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to offer classes like that on a regular basis, as well as seminars during our events and other hands-on offerings.”
In recent years the Museum has been fortunate to receive a number of Corvette donations, bringing the collection to 72 cars owned, so in 2015 the Museum hired a full time maintenance and preservation specialist tasked with the upkeep of the cars.
“Some of the cars that were donated did not run when we received them, so we are excited that Daniel Decker was able to bring them all back to running condition,” added Frassinelli. “Each of the cars is now on a maintenance rotation so we can stay on top of the proper upkeep of the cars.”
Daniel, an ace mechanic, a restorer, painter and a life-long car guy who has been wrenching on cars since he was a kid, has enjoyed the challenge.
“When we got here, I began looking under car covers and I got excited. I came across a ’59 that had no brakes and wouldn’t start. I got to work on that one, and it’s my favorite at the moment.”
According to Daniel, the process to getting the cars where they need to be is a two-part endeavor. “We started by going through each car and getting them operational. The next step will be to go back and get deeper into them, getting them all to be mechanically sound, taking care of leaks and seals, getting into the motors, just to make sure that each one is ready to drive and perform as it did when it was new.”
After the February, 2014 sinkhole occurred the question became – who is going to fix the cars? General Motors took the reins on the 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil and 1992 One Millionth Corvette, returning them to their former glory and putting them back on display in the Museum’s Skydome. The third and final Corvette to undergo repairs is the 1962 Black Corvette.
“It’s going to be pretty awesome to work on the 1962, and it’s a real big honor to be able to do the work, to bring it back to life from the sinkhole.” Daniel said he expects the entire restoration process of the car to take about a year. “We want to do it right. The fiberglass really needs to set and cure so it doesn’t shrink later. We want the car to look immaculate.”
To aid in the construction costs of the Maintenance and Preservation Area the Museum has established a Go Fund Me campaign with the goal of raising $100,000. Contributions are tax deductible and can be made online at www.gofundme.com/preservecorvette.
“We’ve never really done a campaign like this before, but given the fact that we are here to preserve the history of America’s Sports Car, we really wanted to add this new aspect to the Museum experience,” said Frassinelli. “Every little bit helps reach our goal, and helping spread the word is equally important. We hope everyone will join us in making this project successful.”