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TRAVEL JOURNAL INDEX >So, That's How They Get All Those Horses in There

Bowling Green, KY   05/26/06 (Day 31)

So, That’s How They Get 500 Horses in There


Chevrolet did not have to twist our arms very hard to get us to pay a visit to the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, KY. First: it’s a factory where they make big, shiny things and that’s about all you have to say to Eric to get him on board. Second: it’s where they make the zippy new Corvette V06 (18 of them per hour, to be exact) and that’s all you have to say, period.
We expected the tour to be mired in all kinds of dull safety-first rules and regulations, but apart from the “mutilation prevention kit” that we are handed prior to take off (this turns out to be pieces of fabric that cover your watch, rings, etc and they’re meant to prevent mutilation of the cars, not of you), the tour ($5) takes you shockingly close to the action.  Nothing is behind glass, the workers aren’t swathed in hazmat suits, various work stations have radios playing classic rock. It almost feels like a club full of friends who occasionally get together to build cars when they feel like it.

We saw everything from neatly stacked rows of exhaust systems to workers checking every inch of paint under special, super-bright lights to the monsoon room where every car is bombarded with water to make sure all the seals are properly sealed to the lady who gets to carefully put the Corvette logo on the hoods.

Every Corvette is made to order and a surprising amount appears to be done by hand (no robots in sight), which is part of the reason why it takes 32 hours to make just one car. For the truly obsessed, Chevrolet has just started a program that gives new Corvette buyers a VIP tour of the factory during which they get to watch their car in the final stages of being built. 

If you’re a true Corvette lover (or happen to be the daughter of one), your next stop needs to be the National Corvette Museum just down the road from the factory. This is where you can see around 70 vintage Corvettes—60% of which are owned by General Motors, the rest are loaned from private owners or owned by the museum.

If you’re really, REALLY lucky you can even pick up your Corvette here as almost 40 people a month do. We settled on a visit to the gift shop where you can pick up less pricey pieces of Corvette-ness like coffee mugs covered in Corvette logos, race car red nail polish, even cookies (and cookie cutters) in the shape of a Corvette.




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