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Building a Legend - 2006 Corvette

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Part I: The Plant Tour
I have a great affection for Corvettes and bought my first new one in March of 2005. I wanted to have it delivered at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky – right across the street from the Corvette Assembly Plant. I ordered it locally but, after a month they were not able to get the order placed so I cancelled it.
I became impatient and did an online search for an acceptable Vette and found it at another local dealer. It was Silver coupe with a 6 speed manual transmission. We put 5,400 miles on it in four months but I wasn’t totally satisfied with my decision so I sold it in July. I ordered a 2006 convertible for delivery in October or November of 2005.

As a member of the Corvette Forum I learned that the assembly plant offered tours to view the production of your car. I contacted Kevin at the plant and he kept me informed of the progress. I learned that the TPA (Target Production Week) was October 10, 2005. That means it would be built sometime that week. I arranged my schedule so we could be at the plant in the middle of the week. Then I got word that it would start on the line on Friday the 7th and finish on the 10th. Okay, change the schedule to be there early on the 10th. Then I got this message from Kevin.

“Your car will start on line Thursday 10/06/05 , and should come off on Friday 10/07/05, So your will need to be here on Friday, 10/07/05. Thank You Kevin”

So now I have to change my schedule so I can be there on Friday instead of Monday. No problem. I talked to Kevin on Monday the 3rd and his last words were, “I’ll see you on Friday.”

Then the bad news

Monday, October 3, 2005
That night on the Corvette Forum I learned that Kevin had been taken off the tours and put back on the line. Talk about a let down. I called Kevin but got his voice mail. The message said he wasn’t doing it anymore, end of story. I didn’t think it would be worth driving 300 miles and taking the public tour in hopes of seeing our car. How disappointing. I decided to make some calls and heard some good news. Since we were on Kevin’s list for the visit they would honor the tour. Someone else would do the tour but they probably wouldn’t be able to give us the same type of tour. It was on again, though maybe a watered down version.

Thursday, October 6, 2005
Arriving at Bowling Green about 2:30 pm, we went directly to the Museum. I wanted to meet Gary Cockriel who has been handling the Museum Delivery. I didn’t plan to go to the plant for fear of jeopardizing the tour on Friday. I didn’t even know when our tour was scheduled so he suggested we go talk to security to find out when our tour was scheduled.

We headed for the plant, only a mile away. As we were about to turn into the parking lot I got a phone call about my tour. It was scheduled for 10 am on Friday. “Was there any way to see the car today?”, I asked. The answer was "yes". WOW!!

Kyle would be our guide. He showed us the required film about safety in the plant and gave us our protective eyewear and metal covers for belt buckles, rings and watches. This is to protect the car from scratches. “Am I going to be able to get that close to it?” Kyle has never done this type of tour. He gives public tours which takes a group of people through the plant in about an hour, making brief stops to view the production process. Cameras aren’t allowed in the plant except on special occasions and by special people. Kevin would have had a camera but Kyle didn’t have one. No pictures to help remember this special occasion.

How do you find a specific car out of about 180 in different stages of production? We guessed at what stage it would be as it was to be #144 of the day. We approached the line as some bare bodies were coming from an elevated area. There was a convertible with a red threshhold. Could we be that lucky? Sure enough the VIN matched, it was our Corvette!

It had been on the line several hours. The body was attached to the frame but it had no fenders - just a shell. It had the wiring harness, dash and steering column (no wheel) and the Navigation system was there. Not much else. We started walking the line!

"I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line"

I had purchased a silver Sharpie pen to get signatures on the fuel rail (engine) covers but I forget to take it with me. I wasn’t sure who I wanted to sign them anyway. But I thought it would be great to have some workers' signatures on other parts of the car. Someone came up with a red Sharpie and they began signing away. The engine compartment was soon full of names.

As the car continued down the line, many of the signatures were covered up as parts were installed, but a few of them still showed. Here one of the workers signs the bottom of the right fender. Later, a lady was ready to sign the outside of that same fender. I quickly found another spot for her to sign.

   

The Corvette plant only has one shift. An eight hour shift would normally end at 2:42 pm, and it’s already after 3:00 pm. But they are working a 10 hour shift so we were able to watch them install the convertible top, carpet, tonneau hatch, trunk lid, rear fascia (bumper), the seats and doors. It was approaching the windshield installation at 4:42 pm when the line shut down for the day.

Kyle suggested we return at 8:30am on Friday. Great! We left the plant and went to Rafferty’s for prime rib as recommended by one the assembly line workers. We were able to get a seat near the large screen TV and were able to see the Cards win a playoff game with the Padres. Everything is going well!

Friday, October 7, 2005
We went to the Museum at 7:30 am. I had noted on the Corvette Forum that Clark Archer, (railgun) was taking delivery of his Silver Coupe. I met him and his friend Mike (C5Vett), took a couple of pictures and then we headed for the plant. Stuart was our new guide. Still no camera but the person with the camera would bring it to us when she finished. True to her word, we had a camera within the hour. Hooray!!!

It didn’t take long for us to find the car again. We confirmed it by all the signatures in the engine bay. Here is a picture on the second day. We had already watched them install the doors, headlights, transmission and engine.

Pictures of Production  
The engine, drive train and transmission meet the body.
I got to work on my own car.
Almost done but still airborne
Touchdown!
Glenda starts a
505 HP Z06
With a slight touch of the starter button at 1:49 pm on October 7, 2005 our 2006 Corvette Convertible sprang to life.

Victory Red Cashmere Interior Tan Top Automatic 6 speed

 

I was the first person to drive
our new C6 Convertible

No, that is not an XM wart on
top. Just some testing device.

“It’s a Corvette, it's our Corvette!”
 


Glenda and I were very fortunate to be there to see the birth of our Corvette. I hope GM continues this tradition. The workers at the plant are proud of their product and several of them told us "Thank you for buying a Corvette". It was an experience that will stay with us for a long time. The next step was the National Corvette Museum delivery on October 26, 2005.

 

See - Part II, The Museum Delivery.

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