The National Corvette Museum is home to many special vehicles – from mint classics, to one-of-a-kind prototypes, much-loved special editions, race cars and more. While the Museum now owns nearly 70 Corvettes (with all but one donated), a good portion of the display cars are also on loan from private individuals and General Motors. Cars are constantly shuffled and swapped, so no two visits to this Corvette mecca are the same.
In 2013 the Museum was gifted its largest donation to date – a collection of ten Corvettes, from the late Don Messner and his wife Marlene. The pristine set contains many collector and special editions, low mileage and stunning examples of America’s Sports Car. The carefully assembled collection were Don’s pride and joy, and were left to the Museum upon his passing with the hope that they would inspire others to do the same.
“He said he wanted to plant a seed,” wife Marlene said. “He wanted others in similar situations with rare Corvettes to see the Museum as a place for them. Most of all, he wanted to inspire future generations to work hard to buy their own Corvettes some day so that they, too, could enjoy the lifestyle that goes with owning them.”
In 2014 all ten came together for a special display in the Museum’s Exhibit Hall, and today – you can see five of them on the floor throughout the Museum while the other five remain behind the scenes, awaiting the next opportunity to return to the spotlight. Each of the cars has a great story – so we hope you enjoy reading about those you can see on your next visit!
1965 Custom Built Race Corvette (currently on display in our lobby turntable)
This Corvette bears a paint color similar to Cyber Gray and is not a standard 1965 exterior color, but does it turn heads! The car features a complete wide body kit, roll cage, period correct exhaust, custom built big block by Lingenfelter, custom chassis, custom sheet metal intake, Recaro race seats with harnesses, aluminum radiator and 5-speed transmission.
1967 427 Convertible (currently on display in the Dealership)
The Marina Blue beauty was the 2nd most popular color for 1967 and features a stinger stripe on the hood. It is optioned with a 390hp V8 turbojet engine, positraction rear axle, whitewall tires, side dual exhaust, AM/FM radio, softray tinted glass, white convertible top, 4-speed close ratio manual transmission and white and bright blue vinyl interior. It was produced in St. Louis on June 1, 1967 and sold by Penske-McKean Chevrolet of Philadelphia for $3,995.95. Don purchased the car April, 2012 and joined the NCRS, replacing a few parts on the car that had deteriorated while keeping the car period correct.
1996 Grand Sport (currently on display in the Skydome)
This model of Corvette is listed as one of the “10 most valuable Corvettes” by CNN Money because it was “available for one year only, was almost as fast [as the high performance ZR-1], easier to work on and is actually worth a good bit more.”
1996 Collectors Edition (currently on display in the Skydome)
This car was manufactured December 6, 1995 in Bowling Green with option RPO Z15 (“Collector Edition”), making it a Sebring Silver Corvette with special trim. The May 1996 edition of Motor Trend magazine touted the car “a keeper and is likely one of the best all-around Corvettes ever hatched out of the Bowling Green, KY plant.”
2012 60th Anniversary 427 Convertible (currently on display in the Skydome)
The 2013 model marked Corvette’s 60th year, and was the final year for the sixth generation of Corvette. This special package was offered for all models for 2013, and the 427 Convertible combined the convertible with Z06 elements, including its 505hp, 427ci LS7 engine with dry sump, but retained the convertible’s steel frame structure.
Don’s story is a special one that’s we’ve put together as part of a new Heritage Series. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!