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History of the 1991 and 2001 Corvettes - Sinkhole Corvettes: Part 4

Exploring the History of the ’91 and ’01 Sinkhole Corvettes

Walt Thurn Dec 22, 2014
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This is the final installment of our National Corvette Museum (NCM) sinkhole series. Parts 1, 2, and 3 provided you with information about the ’09 ZR1, ’62 convertible, ’92 1-millionth, ’93 40th anniversary coupe, ’09 1.5-millionth, and the ’84 PPG Pace Car. Part 4 covers the two remaining Corvettes that received significant damage and might not be repairable.

1991 ZR-1 Prototype Spyder

On January 12, 1991, Don Runkle, GM’s Chief of Advanced Engineering and the American Sunroof Company (ASC), unveiled this unique ZR-1 prototype Spyder. Mechanically, it started life as a ’90 ZR-1 coupe before being converted by ASC in late 1990. It carries a unique EX (experiential) VIN # (000DRZEX386640962). The DR in the VIN stands for Don Runkle. The exterior was Blade Silver with a startling Day-Glo yellow leather trimmed interior. It featured unique hood and front quarter-panel vents to aid engine cooling. It also featured custom billet wheels that were highly polished. The windshield was chopped to half its normal height and the seats were bolted directly to the floorpan to lower them by several inches. A small custom top was stowed behind the seats that could be raised in case the driver was caught in an unexpected rainstorm. The center high-mounted safety light (CHMSL) was located in the fuel filler door and popped up when the brakes were applied. The 5.7-liter ZR-1 engine remained stock at 375 hp. This Corvette was built to gauge the public’s reaction to a ZR-1 convertible and remained on the show circuit for several years (a ZR-1 convertible was never offered). It was sent to the Bowling Green assembly plant in 1993 to be refurbished. It was painted Sapphire Black and the Day-Glo yellow interior was replaced with Torch Red leather. The plant workers autographed the underside of the hood, so their work would become part of this unique car’s history. GM loaned this Corvette to the National Corvette Museum in 2006. On February 12, the Spyder dropped into the void at the NCM and was unfortunately found near the bottom of the pile of other Corvettes. The Scott, Murphy & Daniel Construction crew located it and carefully uncovered what remained of this special Corvette. It was raised from the bottom of the sinkhole on April 1, 2014 and now rests in the NCM exhibit hall. It does not appear that it can be repaired but experts will carefully examine the remains before making their final decision.

1991 Chevrolet Corvette Zr1 Sinkhole 2/9

This is all that remains of that once beautiful and unique ZR-1. The crew had difficulty locating areas that were secure enough to withstand the stress of the lift. It was successfully raised on April 1, 2014.

1991 Chevrolet Corvette Spyder Rear View 3/9

This is how the ZR-1 Spyder looked when it arrived at the Bowling Green assembly plant to be refurbished. Notice some of the discarded Corvette body parts in the background.

1991 Chevrolet Corvette Zr1 Spyder Black 4/9

The assembly plant repainted the Spyder black and added a Torch Red interior. This is how it looked when it was displayed while on loan from Chevrolet. The ZR-1 engine remained stock.

1991 Chevrolet Corvette Zr1 Remains 5/9

This is all that remains of the ZR-1 Spyder. The right side door is bent forward from the cockpit and the safety side door beam is exposed. The autographed hood can be seen in the background leaning against the wall.

2001 Mallett Hammer Corvette

Kevin and Linda Helmintoller donated their ’01 Mallett Corvette (Mallett serial #009) to the National Corvette Museum on December 2, 2013. The couple gave the car up to help the NCM grow. In addition, they felt that the Mallett would be a good training vehicle for the new Motorsports Park. They are both lifetime members of the Museum and have participated in many R8C Museum Deliveries. This Corvette carries VIN# 1G1YY125415134460 and Mallett completed its conversion in June 2002. AntiVenom installed an AV436ci engine into the Mallett in June of 2008. It produces 700 hp at the flywheel and has been clocked at 10.6 seconds at 128 mph in the quarter-mile. It had a total of 16,000 miles on its clock when Kevin and Linda donated it to the museum. This car was featured on the cover of GM High-Tech Performance magazine. It was the last car to be found and it was located at the very bottom of the sinkhole. It took some time to uncover it and it was raised with a chain wrapped around its rear crash bumper. The Corvette was so badly damaged that it now rests on a specially constructed wooden dolly with wheels. The remains of this once proud Corvette rocket are now on display in the NCM exhibit hall.

This concludes our four-part series about these eight significant National Corvette Museum Corvettes. The good news continues to be that nobody was injured or lost when this event happened. Recently, the museum board developed three options on how to proceed with the sinkhole repairs: fill it, keep a portion of it, or preserve the entire sinkhole. It appears that the board favors filling half the hole and the repair estimate is between $3 and $5 million. How much the insurance will cover is still being determined. It must be mentioned that the NCM staff has handled this event in a professional and open manner. If you are in the area we highly recommend stopping by for a visit. For updates go to corvettemuseum.org.

2001 Chevrolet Corvette Side View 6/9

The Mallett Hammer is shown entering the NCM exhibit hall after its owners Linda and Kevin Helmintoller donated this highly modified Corvette to the museum.

2001 Chevrolet Corvette Hammer 7/9

AntiVenom LSX Performance in Tampa, Florida, did extensive engine work on this Mallett and added a custom-designed carbon-fiber hood to cover the fuel injection system.

2001 Chevrolet Covette Damaged 8/9

It is difficult to even identify this completely destroyed mess as a Corvette. It appears to have been crushed flat by two large boulders.

2001 Chevrolet Corvette Remains 9/9

Very little remains of the Mallett Hammer Corvette. Since it appears to be the first car to fall into the void, it received the most extensive damage.

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