Bowling Green KY, home of the American super car, the Corvette. As you drive around the city you are reminded of this fact from the names of the business, often referencing ‘Vette City.’ It’s a small example of the effect manufacturing has on towns across the country. It not only provides jobs and a strong economy, but pride and an identity.
As you exit the freeway for the GM plant and come to the first stoplight, you have a choice: turn right to go to the plant for the factory tour, or turn left to visit the National Corvette Museum. Make time for both experiences.
As you drive along the frontage road on your way to the ‘Factory Tour’ parking lot, you are reminded numerous times, no cameras & no phones. Once parked you make your way under a bridge and into an atrium where a patriotic mural is painted referencing the pride of Made in the USA. Walk through the front doors, pay for your ticket and take your time looking at the glass cases that have corvette clubs photos, patches and trophies on display. You’ll be called into the video room for a short video introduction before proceeding through the plant doors and into the factory floor.
The tour follows a nearly 7 mile long assembly line from the Corvette’s frame production to the first spark of the ignition, ready to be driven off and onto route 66. The most impressive aspect of watching these cars be assembled, of which no two are identical, is the timing and organization of each part according to the order sheet. Every Corvette is custom ordered from dealers so there’s something unique about each car. As you watch the conveyer belts above loop and twist around like a freeway interchange, and then drop off its products at the assembly line just in time to be joined with the exact car it was pulled for, is truly mind boggling. Sometimes they will pull someone from the tour to turn the ignition (push-button) for the first time on a new Corvette. After the car has come to life is when the real test begins on the dynamometer and then the water booth where it is bombarded with a torrential down pour. As the tour concludes you have a great deal of respect for this plant, and the appreciation why it is rated as one of the top in quality control.
Head across the street to visit the National Corvette Museum where you learn about the history of the car and see a lot of nostalgic club gear and race imagery. This is also where new Corvettes can be picked up by their new proud owners.
FACTORY TOUR DETAILS:
Reservations: Not required unless in a large group
Tour Duration: 1.5 hours (including video introduction)
Factory hours: M-F Tours at 9AM & 1PM
600 Corvette Drive
Bowling Green, KY 42101