1979 Engineering Development Corvette Undergoing Conservation

It’s known as the Corvette that started the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. But this 1979 Corvette had a story prior to arriving in Kentucky.

1979 Pilot Car Frame

This 1979 Corvette has an experimental chassis that was utilized to develop the engineering changes coming in 1980 and 1981 to the third-generation of Corvette. This Corvette’s chassis was modified by A.O. Smith to accept different body mount locations and to utilize the aluminum rear differential housing and carrier introduced in 1980, used to lighten the Corvette.

The interior of this Corvette is also unique with several experimental components, including a power driver’s seat that became available in Corvettes in 1981, and an experimental center console gauge cluster.

After the Corvette’s life as an engineering development car, it was shipped to Bowling Green, KY to test the recently installed assembly line at the new Corvette assembly plant. This Corvette was photographed as it was lowered to the ground at the end of the line, and was featured on the cover of the June 1981 issue of Corvette news. This car, along with others that had been sent down for early assembly line testing, was also used to teach prospective new hires from the Bowling Green area how to assemble a Corvette, should they gain employment at the assembly plant.

The 1979 Engineering Development Corvette was acquired by the Museum in 2018 and, although disassembled, remains in mostly original condition. The National Corvette Museum Preservation Department is performing conservation treatments to the vehicle to preserve its original finishes, and will then reassemble the Corvette for exhibit here at the Museum. The treatments being performed include: cleaning the vehicle, stabilizing corrosion issues, and applying coatings to the vehicle’s surfaces to protect it from future degradation.

Visitors to the Museum are invited to watch our team preserve this unique Corvette and save this portion of Corvette history for future visitors to learn from.

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