Museum Hawk: National Corvette Museum

March 18, 2006

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The unique thing about the National Corvette Museum is that it’s the only one in America where you can also get delivery of your new car of the same make.


That’s because the Museum, celebrating its twelfth anniversary this year, is a mere quarter-mile across the road from General Motors’ Corvette and Cadillac XLR assembly plant along I-65 at Bowling Green, Ky. Last year, when 37,372 C6 Corvettes were produced at the plant, 773 retail customers took delivery at the National Corvette Museum by selecting the “R8C” option when they ordered at their dealerships.


If Ford Motor Company had devised such a scheme for delivery of Thunderbirds at its Wixom plant outside Detroit — and properly promoted it — sales of the roadster might have been boosted and the model’s life prolonged. Perhaps life of the Wixom plant itself — now on the kill list — could have been prolonged if a VIP delivery program for Lincolns had been added.


It “yoostabee,” fifty years or so ago, that many new-car buyers of various makes would journey to the Mecca of Motordom, Detroit , to watch their new car being assembled and then take delivery “at the factory.” I know for sure that such deliveries were made through the Ford Rouge Plant and the famous Ford Rotunda as well as at Plymouth ’s Lynch Road Plant. No doubt others such as Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler, Lincoln, Packard, Cadillac, and Hudson with Detroit plants did the same. That was because, besides the obvious visceral pleasure, delivery charges from Detroit made it economical to bypass the system — and automakers allowed it. Today, “destination charges” are baked into the sticker price and there’s no way to beat it.


Corvette owners, of course, are a special breed, a cult you might say. They pay a $490 premium for the R8C privilege of getting delivery of their new ‘Vette at the twin facilities in Bowling Green. Included is a membership in the Museum, a private tour of the assembly plant and the Museum, plaques, decals, photographs and, most important, a super-duper pre-delivery preparation by the Museum staff.


In addition, the Museum offers a separate VIP treatment called the NCM Xperience for owners of Corvettes other than the current model. This $350 program has many of the same features as the R8C new-car delivery. Obviously, they can’t have an old car “pre-delivered” but they do get a spiffy cleaning and their ’Vette is then displayed on the floor of the Museum for photos.


Incidentally, public tours also are offered of the Corvette/XLR assembly plant, where all ’Vettes have been manufactured since 1981. Last year, a minor five-dollar charge per person started for the tour. To celebrate the plant’s Silver Anniversary this year, there will be a no-doubt memorable program at the plant and Museum August 31 through September 3.

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