In the middle of the afternoon on July 2, 1992, folks at the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green KY knew they were building a special Corvette, but it wasn’t until over two decades later that everyone finally realized just how special this little white Corvette would become.
With approximately one-million cars between them, these first and fourth-generation Corvettes show how technology has changed over the decades.
As the pieces flowed throughout the Corvette Assembly Plant, employees took opportunity to commemorate the occasion by signing the various parts and pieces that they’d so carefully used to create the one-millionth Corvette built by Chevrolet. Just like the first ones that rolled off the line in Flint, Michigan way back in 1953, the One-Millionth Corvette would carry the same color combination with a white exterior, red interior and a black drop-top. Another similarity with all Corvettes built during the first year’s production, this car featured an automatic transmission, although using twice as many gears as those built at Flint. The 700r4 automatic transmission now featured overdrive and torque converter lockup for increased fuel economy and drivability, a testament to how far technology had come by 1992.
The mindset back in 1953 was to throw more carburetors on an engine to garner more performance. By the time the One-Millionth Corvette rolled down the line, complete fuel control had become the main focus and electronic fuel injection was the means to obtain it. Instead of a controlled leak inside of however many carburetors an engine utilized, EFI allows for complete control of the fuel, including shutting it off entirely if not needed on deceleration. Coupled with the independent front and rear suspension, Passive-Key security system, Anti-lock brakes and driver’s side air bags, it was obvious that technology had become part of Corvette’s legacy, as well as its future. But little did anyone know of this commemorative Corvette’s future as it rolled down the line back in ’92.
The One-Millionth Corvette, perched precariously on a rock inside the sinkhole. The recovery team was able to hook one wheel and swing the car out into the opening to retrieve it.
The One-Millionth Corvette was parked alongside several other notable Corvettes on February 12th, when the ground literally opened up and swallowed it, along with seven other Corvettes. While the first ones retrieved were easily seen when viewing down into the sinkhole, the One-Millionth Corvette was perched precariously by one rock, just above the cavern opening. Danny Daniel from SMD Construction explains, “Initially, there was no intention to bring the Millionth out at that time, but as we got in there and saw more that morning, we felt that might be our best chance.” The recovery team was able to lasso one wheel of the car and used it to pull the auto free from the rock where it had been perched, allowing it to swing into the cavern. At that point they were able to place the car on its roof at the bottom of the sinkhole where they latched onto the Corvette more securely and pulled it from the sinkhole.
Once the car was back on all four wheels, the recovery team was able to wheel the car out of the Skydome and assess the damage.
After an initial assessment, it was determined to restore the One-Millionth Corvette, the work being completed by General Motors. The hardest part would be preserving all of the lovingly-applied signatures from the car’s initial assembly at the plant. Chevrolet was able to save all of the signatures except for one – from retired General Motors employee Angela Lamb.
The daunting task of restoring the car fell into the capable hands of the folks at GM. They dutifully rebuilt the car to the way it was when it rolled off the line, right down to the signatures put there by those who originally built the car at the plant.
GM completed the restoration process Thursday, September 3, 2015 during a special ceremony at the NCM where Angela Lamb was on-hand to personally apply her signature, thus bringing the One-Millionth Corvette full-circle for its second build process.
Chevrolet was able to save all of the signatures except for one – from retired General Motors employee Angela Lamb, who recreates her signature on a panel of the car before it is reattached – to complete the restoration process Thursday, September 3, 2015 at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. GM Global Design Fabrication Operations Director David Bolognino (left) and Executive Director Global Chevrolet Design John Cafaro hold the panel for Lamb. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)
The One-Millionth Corvette now resides next to the other seven Sinkhole brethren on display at the National Corvette Museum. Like the Blue Devil, the scars of the Sinkhole have been eliminated, but the One-Millionth’s membership into the special Sinkhole Corvettes fraternity is as secure as the permanent marker used on each signature during its build. If only they knew back in 1992.