End of an Era: Last C7 Stingray Corvette delivered to museum

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Last C7 Stingray Corvette delivered to National Corvette Museum after rolling off the assembly line at the GM Plant across the street in Bowling Green 11-20-19

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WTVQ) – The National Corvette Museum was created as a facility to house the history of the iconic American sports car, and a part of the car’s recent history has joined the Museum’s collections.

On Wednesday, November 20, the final C7 Stingray to roll off the GM Bowling Green Assembly line was officially delivered at the Museum.

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“As a company, from General Motors, the Plant and the Museum – we all try to work together to do everything we can to preserve the history of this car,” said Kai Spande, GM Bowling Green Assembly Plant Manager. “During the planning of the final production units, GM and Harlan Charles asked if there was an interest from the Museum in getting one of the last cars.”

Museum President and CEO Dr. Sean Preston was thrilled to have the opportunity for the Museum to own such an important piece of history. “GM offered the opportunity to purchase the car to us. The Corvette is an iconic car in and of itself, and the last Stingray Coupe with front engine and manual transmission is an iconic car itself as well.”

The car was spec’d out with a purpose – a white exterior and red interior just like the very first 1953 Corvettes. “I think it’s important that the Museum have the last front engine Stingray in the collection because it’s truly a milestone in Corvette history,” said Derek E. Moore, Director of Collections / Curator for the Museum. “The Stingray nameplate holds such significance in Corvette history with the first Stingray Racer, followed by the first production Stingray in the second generation, and though we still see the Stingray nameplate in the eighth generation cars, it’s a momentous time where we are moving from the front engine design to a much more advanced design of a mid-engine. We at the Museum want to capture that history when such a significant change happens.”

The Museum owns several Stingrays, from early models to the more modern generation, but Moore said having this one as a ‘bookend’ to that collection is important history. The next step for the Museum was raising funds to purchase the Corvette.

“We have many Museum supporters and donors, but one came to mind with regard to passion for Corvette history, education and the Museum,” said Moore.

Ivan Schrodt began his relationship with the Museum as a regular member, and like many others, began attending events and getting to know people at the Museum and other enthusiasts. Eventually he became a Lifetime Member and was later asked to join the Museum’s Board of Directors, serving a five-year term. “I really believe in the Museum and what it does to preserve the history of the Corvette, and serve the enthusiasts of the Corvette,” said Schrodt. “I became a supporter and donor over the years because I think it is important to preserve historic cars. It’s nice when the Museum can have some of those one-of-a-kind cars in their collection. This is the last front engine Stingray Corvette with manual transmission that will ever be made. It’s a lot of lasts of its kind.”

Schrodt shared what an amazing car the C7 is, owning a 2016 Z06 himself. “It’s an incredible car. Having a car that’s an absolutely fantastic car, but the last of its kind, I think that’s a great thing to have in the Museum.”

“I personally believe that this is just another example of the symbiotic relationship we have between the factory, the program team and the Museum,” added Spande. “We work together for the benefit of our customers, the benefit of the Museum and the overall history of the car, which is what the Museum is here for. We’re very excited that this car will stay in Bowling Green and it will be in the Museum forever.”

The ‘bookend’ to the seventh generation Corvette was presented in a ceremony at the Museum on Corvette Boulevard, which included a finishing touch of autographs on the engine cover by representatives of GM Corvette Assembly and Schrodt. The car was driven down the Boulevard and Victory Lane by Preston and Schrodt before being placed on display as part of the ‘Generations’ exhibit in the Museum’s Skydome. Thank to Ivan and his wife, Mary, for their continued support of the Museum, history and education of Corvette!

Visitors to the Museum can see the car on display seven days a week, from 8am until 5pm CT. The Museum is located at I-65, Exit 28 in Bowling Green. More information is available at corvettemuseum.org.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.