April 9, 2014 / 11:09 PM / 5 years ago

Last Corvette pulled from Kentucky sinkhole that swallowed museum cars

(Reuters) - The last of eight rare Corvettes to be extracted from a sinkhole that opened under a Kentucky car museum in February was pulled from the pit on Wednesday, showing damage from its 40-foot (12-meter) tumble.

After finally being located on its roof under rubble on Monday, the 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette was lifted on Wednesday from the pit at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The car - a Corvette modified by collectors who donated it to the museum - was one of eight collector Corvettes that were swallowed by the sinkhole on February 12.

As expected, it took weeks to retrieve the cars, which included the millionth Corvette built in 1992. All are historically significant and General Motors Co will attempt to restore them, Mark Reuss, executive vice president of GM Global Product Development, said in a statement.

The final car had been buried beneath dirt and rocks, said Katie Frassinelli, marketing and communications manager.

“They have been excavating in the dirt, dig a little here, dig a little there and they eventually uncovered the rear portion of the car (Monday),” Frassinelli said.

“The next thing is to recover all the pieces. They’ll be pulling pieces out of the hole for several days, probably,” she said.

Visitors to the museum, which has reopened, have watched the excavation efforts and observed the seven previously recovered Corvettes, dubbed the “Great 8” by the museum.

Some of the cars were spared major damage, including a 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” that landed on its wheels, while others were covered with rubble.

Six are owned by the museum: the Mallett Hammer, the white millionth Corvette, a 1962 black Corvette, a 1984 PPG pace car, a 1993 ruby red 40th anniversary Corvette, and a 2009 white 1.5 millionth Corvette. The two others were on loan from GM: the Blue Devil and a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder.

The region of south central Kentucky where the museum is located contains many caves and sinkholes. Mammoth Cave National Park is about 20 miles from Bowling Green.

GM builds Corvettes at a plant near the museum, which opened in 1994.

Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Walsh

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