National Corvette Museum Sinkhole Corvettes: The Blue Devil

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Whether attributed to its youth relative to the other Corvettes in the sinkhole, or simply fate favored it more than the others, there’s no denying that the 2009 ZR-1 Corvette, better known as the “Blue Devil”, bore the least amount of damage from its fall into the cavern under the National Corvette Museum.

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You would be hard-pressed to see any damage on the Blue Devil from this photograph. Landing on its wheels help save many body panels but the land did have an effect on a few, along with some suspension components.

The Blue Devil was quite comfortable garnering all the attention before it became one of the star players in a late-night surveillance video of eight Corvettes going subterranean in seconds. When the entire world was clamoring to get their first view of the new 638-horsepower ZR-1 Corvette, it was this particular car that was used in the photos dispersed to help appease the appetites of enthusiasts.

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Most of the world got its first view of the then-new ZR-1 thanks to the Blue Devil. This exact car was used for many press images and displays while its older brother was the one that made runs on the Nurburgring.

Life began for the Blue Devil as a 2008 Z06, but it was re-fitted with all the necessary bits to make it into a 2009 ZR-1. After its conversion, it made the rounds to various shows and on the covers of many magazines.

As saleable versions of GM’s supercar made it out into the wild, this one-off example was no longer needed to highlight the car’s existence. Because of the car’s notoriety, and the fact that GM can’t ever sell it due to legal constraints, the next best thing would be to donate it to the NCM so that it could bide its time, continuing to lift the ZR-1 RPO code among the greats within the walls of the museum. Little did anyone know that it would soon find itself on the front pages and news feeds of the world once again.

The Blue Devil found itself on the top of the heap deep in the sinkhole. It was the first one to be removed after spending almost a month inside the sinkhole.

Again, whether by fate, or due to its lightweight materials in construction, the Blue Devil found itself upon a pile of rubble deep within the sinkhole that formed during the early morning hours under the spire of the National Corvette Museum. Its precarious drop ended with the car firmly planted on all four wheels and right-side up, much more than could be said for many of the cars that now resided under it.

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Immediately after recovering it from the sinkhole, the ZR-1 was started and driven out of the museum under its own power.

During its fall, the car suffered some bruises, the damage at the time being best described by GM’s John Spencer, manufacturing integration manager for Corvette, “The ‘Blue Devil’ is in remarkable shape. Cosmetically, the carbon fiber running boards are shattered, there’s some minor paint damage, and a small crack in the windshield. Mechanically, the worst damage is a split in the oil-supply line for the 6.2L LS9 V-8. If you fixed that, you could drive the ZR-1 back to Detroit. Mechanically, the car was deemed unscathed enough to fire up immediately after being pulled from the rubble on March 3rd, almost one month after it fell into the sinkhole.

The Blue Devil went back to GM to where the folks who built her the first time could work their magic once again. Most of the repairs were cosmetic and the car was ready to unveil in GM's booth at the SEMA show later that year.

After all of the cars were extracted and the fate of each one decided, the Blue Devil went back to the people at GM that had originally built it into its ZR-1 configuration and they dutifully re-built it back into its former glory.

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Mechanically, the worst damage is a split in the oil-supply line for the 6.2L LS9 V-8. If you fixed that, you could drive the ZR-1 back to Detroit. – John Spencer, manufacturing integration manager for Corvette

Panels were replaced, bent suspension components were swapped out for new and the blue paint that gave the car its name was re-applied. The car was unveiled in GM’s booth at the SEMA show in 2014, eight months after being pulled from the sinkhole. The car now resides back at the NCM and although it may not show the scars from its scary ordeal, it will forever share its history with the other seven sinkhole Corvettes.

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About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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