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The company I work for has operations in Bowling Green, KY - home of the Corvette production plant. I have been to Bowling Green a few times, but never visited the plant (the plant conducts 1.5 hour tours for $5). However, I was in Bowling Green this past week and decided to go on the tour.

The tour was definitely worth the time and the $5. The first thing I noticed when entering the plant was that it has a strong new car smell. Which I guess makes sense considering that there are hundreds of new cars in the plant.

The cool part of the tour occurred during the production stage when the chassis is “married” to the body. The car’s body is elevated about 4 or 5 feet off the ground and the chassis is lifted up to the body and connected. The chassis has the engine, tranny, axels, brakes assembly, etc. connected for this stage of the production process. Ignoring the subtle body differences, during this stage you could tell the difference between a base Vette and a Z06 by the brake rotors (the Z06 having larger, drilled rotors). However, one of the cars seemed to have much larger drilled rotors than even the Z06. This car was a metallic blue Vette with a dark roof. Additionally, instead of having the standard large white production ticket (which provides all of the details about the car so that the correct options are installed) attached to the front bumper, it had a smaller pink ticket. I thought, “can’t be” and walked forward to see what was written on the pink production ticket on this blue Vette. Sure enough, the only markings on the ticket were “ZR1”.

According to the tour guide, this particular ZR1 is a pre-production model that might be used for final testing, car shows, etc. I cringed when he said that all pre-production models are destroyed after testing.

We saw about 5 other pre-production ZR1s (three red ones, a yellow and a dark grey) parked in the factory. I must say that the car looks very nice. The performance is going to be insane.

If you are ever in Bowling Green, take the tour. It is fun to see the cars, and to laugh at all of the 60 year old guys decked head to toe in their Corvette gear.
 

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Factory tours like this are fun. I did a museum delivery with my Corvette Z06 a few years ago with my oldest son. We had a great time.
 
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