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Corvette Plant Will Go Temporarily Offline

The year Corvette production shifted from St. Louis, Missouri to Bowling Green, Kentucky was 1981. The proud men and women working at Bowling Green have been producing America’s greatest sports car ever since, and they’ll continue to do so in the years to come. However, the assembly line has remained relatively unchanged since the introduction of the C5-gen Corvette.

There’s no denying the plant is long overdue an upgrade, and that upgrade is expected to be made at the end of the 2017 model year. General Motors earmarked $290 million for Bowling Green for new assembly technologies in 2016. This money comes atop two earlier investments: $439 million for retooling and a new paint shop, plus $44 million for the build center.

Citing insider information, our friends at Corvette Blogger are adamant that an “official announcement from the plant is coming soon.” The closure is expected to come at the end of June, after the final 2017 C7 Corvette rolls off the line. The Bowling Green shutdown is said to last three months or so.

The cited publication might be onto something here, chiefly because plant tours are closed from August 23 through the end of the year. “We believe that once the upgrades are complete, the plant will continue building the C7 Corvettes as 2018 models,” the publication highlights. “Widely expected is a new addition to the C7 lineup, the 2018 Corvette ZR1, which has been under development for the last year.” Speaking of which, the ZR1 is rumored to pack something more than just a big wing. More to the point, an all-new engine.

The rumor started after someone identified the LT5 engine in a 2018 model year GM models service document. Previously used as the handle for the C4 ZR1’s beating heart, the second-generation LT5 boasts a DOHC configuration. For a Corvette, that’s a radical change from the pushrod design of the LT1 and LT4 units currently found in the regular model and almighty Z06.

A bit later on, the 2019 model year will see General Motors write a new chapter in the Corvette book. Profane or not, GM would really like to show Ford that the GT isn’t the only American mid-engine supercar around.

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