A 2002 Torch Red Corvette Coupe
Near the southern border of a state known for raising world-class thoroughbreds sits a rather unassuming building.
Located on the outskirts of the quiet town of Bowling Green along Interstate 65 is the home of the Chevrolet Corvette Coupe, Corvertible and Z06 -- the Chevrolet Corvette Assembly Plant.
While the plant may not look special, it has the spartan, nicely-landscaped face that adorns many GM's assembly facilities. To millions of Americans it is a national treasure.
While it's true that the plant employs high-tech computerized assembly methods, an advanced paint process and a thousand skilled craftspeople who ensure quality every step of the way, there's an intangible quality to the place that can't be explained by a process designed by mere mortals.
The Corvette is a car with an appeal and a mystique so strong, it's almost magical.
Corvette--Kentucky's Piece of Americana
Corvette didn't always call Kentucky "home."
In 1953, GM unveiled the Corvette as a "dream car" in the Motorama show in New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel, and soon after began building Corvettes by hand in Flint, Mich. Only 300 were built the first year, and in 1954, Corvette production moved to St. Louis.
On June 1, 1981, General Motors moved production of the Corvette from St. Louis to Bowling Green, which remains today as the exclusive home of Corvette. Previously an air conditioning factory, the building was completely renovated into a modern automotive facility twice the size of the previous structure.
Since then, the Bowling Green plant has twice made Corvette history--first on October 26, 1983, by producing the 750,000th Corvette, and again in July 2, 1992, by producing the one-millionth Corvette.
Today, Corvette is more than a sports car. It's a symbol of pure driving pleasure and an icon of achievement. The Corvette brand identity is so strong that other manufacturers license its use. To millions of Americans, the sleek sports car built in Kentucky is the ultimate dream car. More than 40 years after it was introduced, Corvette has remained true to its orginal vision.
A Thoroughbred Without Equal
In January, 1997, Chevrolet introduced a new fifth generation of the beloved Corvette to the world. As they had done with every previous generation of Corvette, engineers did the impossible: They took a successful combination of performance and style and improved upon it even further, creating a world-class thoroughbred among sports cars.
Today, the Kentucky-bred Corvette has expanded its horizons, appealing to a global customer base. According to Dave Hill, Vehicle Line Executive and Corvette Chief Engineer, "We examined our weak points and turned them into strengths. Things that were good, we made great. Things that were great are now even better."
For anyone in the market for a serious sports car like the Corvette, that's great news. The new Corvette features better ride and handling, more interior space, a brand new small-block V8 engine and more storage space than before. In fact, the new Corvette's trunk has nearly doubled inside, and can accommodate two large sets of golf clubs.
The Corvette is more refined, to appeal to those who might not have considered Corvette "their car." But to the purist, today's fifth-generation Corvette has everything a purist would expect, and more.
Measured as "co-efficient of drag," Corvette has better aerodynamics than any other production car made in America except GM's own electric vehicle. It's sleeker than most Winston Cup race cars, and boasts a lower drag co-efficient than any competitive high sport car in the world!
Corvette is, and always has been, on the cutting edge of technology. It features an engine made largely of sturdy yet lightweight aluminum that provides more power, better fuel economy and reduced emissions compared with the engine it replaced. Its tires can run for hundreds of miles at zero inflation pressure, giving the driver time to get to a service facility. Corvette's optional Real Time Damping suspension allows the driver to adjust the shock abosorbers to match his or her driving preference. And the list goes on.
There may be other sports car on the road. But none can match Corvette's level of power, technology, style and image.
A Facility That Breeds Quality
Constantly refining the manufacturing process is a key to achieving quality levels that are competive in the global market. The newest Corvette was engineered to be easier to assemble through reduced part count. Today's Corvette has 1,462 fewer parts than its predecessor, but it also has a stronger underbody structure, which helped promote a quieter, more vibration-free environment and enhances long-term quality.
The Corvette plant uses "high-tech computerized assembly techniques". Sophisticated laser and photo technology provide continual quality checks on dimensions, allowing plant personnel to make necessary adjustments before a vehicle leaves the assembly line. The result: Every Corvette off the line is consistent in terms of quality.
A special paint process is preceded by a high-tech cleaning in a dust and contaminate-free environment to provide a clean appearance. Before leaving the plant, every Corvette is subject to a rigorous water-test, which helps ensure every vehicle is leak-free.
The Corvette Assembly Plant has become a destination in itself for Corvette lovers from all over the world. In one day, visitors can take in a tour at the Assembly Plant, and visit the National Corvette Museum located about 1/4 mile away, within sight of the plant. (See link to the National Corvette Museum.)
*The Plant annually attracts tourists and tourist dollars to the city. Close to 50,000 people tour the plant each year from around the world.
*The plant's payroll topped $50,363,648 for UAW represented employees alone in 1997. Current employment levels are approximately 1,050 people.
*United Way contributions are traditionally among the highest of any area corporation: 2001 pledges total $161,000, with an additional $6,000 collected to support the efforts of the American Red Cross September 11 Fund.
*Corvette's fame around the world brings positive attention to Bowling Green.
*The 1998 model was named Motor Trend Car of the Year, North American Car of the Year and was the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. The car also won the J.D. Power APEAL award for the '98 '99,2000 and 2001 models. The 2001 model also achieved it's ultimate award with the J.D. Power "Best In Segment" for a Premium Sports Car, beating out such prestigious names as Mercedes SLK, BMW-Z3 and the Porsche 911.