Tucked away in a quiet office park in Sterling Heights, Michigan, lies one of the most extraordinary assemblages of motor vehicles in the Western Hemisphere--if not the world. Like an automotive Tower of London, GM's Heritage Center is the ultimate repository for the most coveted, the most coruscating, and, in many cases, the most costly automotive jewels in the General's possession.
These vehicles range in scope from mind-blowing technological showpieces conceived during the company's halcyon days to regular production cars noteworthy only for their date of manufacture. What they all share is a certain level of historical significance to the brand, one that elevates them above their vehicular peers and certifies them for inclusion in this elite collection.
In an era of self- and government-imposed fiscal austerity at GM, it's something of a wonder that the Center even exists. (Certainly, it has no analogue across town in Dearborn or Auburn Hills.) And while it might have seemed that company was trading on its legacy to make a quick buck when it auctioned off around 200 "collectible" show cars and other one-offs in 2009, the truth is that most of the vehicles liquidated in the sale were built by outside firms, and were therefore of limited historical importance to GM as a brand. ("We kept all the good stuff," says Heritage Center Manager Greg Wallace with a chuckle.) In addition to the main attraction--the cars--Center employees also oversee an unimaginably vast document archive, stocked with rows upon rows of owner's manuals, dealer brochures, technical bulletins, photos, and other printed materials stretching all the way back to 1908. (Many are available for download from the Center's website.) Even the most mundane items reflect the company's past, right down to the 1960s office furniture that was inherited from the old headquarters at Cadillac Place.
Of the roughly 600 cars in the Center's inventory today, 67 are Corvettes, a ratio indicative of the premier role the marque has played at GM throughout its 60-year history. Center employees rolled out several truly exceptional Vettes for our delectation when we visited in May, and each one had a story to tell. We'll take an up-close look at those cars--and the Center itself--in the photos that follow. While the GM Heritage Center is not open to the public, it can be reserved for club functions and other special events involving a minimum of 30 attendees. Visit the Center's website for more information.