A longtime supporter of the National Corvette Museum was a passenger in a big piece of the legendary sports car’s history as it drove right down Corvette Boulevard on Wednesday, providing the facility with an appropriate bookend for the highly significant Corvettes displayed there.
Once General Motors made it available to the Museum, Lifetime Member and former board member Ivan Schrodt stepped up to the plate and provided the funds for the NCM to purchase the last C7 Stingray ever produced and, for now anyway, the last with a manual transmission.
“Ivan was one of the first names I heard when I joined the Museum family over the summer,” said NCM President and CEO Dr. Sean Preston, who was behind the wheel of the special Corvette as it rolled down Corvette Boulevard. “I had a chance to meet with him at the reveal, the C8i reveal, in Tustin, Calif., and I simply made the ask. Ivan, we have an opportunity to add to our collection an iconic car within an iconic brand, and before I could finish the ask, he said yes.”
“I thought it was an awesome opportunity,” Schrodt said, “and something that would be great for the Museum, and I jumped right aboard.”
Appropriately enough, the last 2019 Stingray is finished in the same colors as the original first 300 Corvettes built in 1953 – white exterior with red interior. It was actually the next to last front-engine Corvette as the last C7 was a black Z06 that brought $2.7 million at auction for charity.
“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, himself the owner of a 2016 Z06. “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.”
The Museum was thrilled with Schrodt’s gift.
“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.”
Bowling Green Assembly Plant Manager Kai Spande said General Motors, the Plant, and the Museum work together to preserve the history of the Corvette. “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,” Spande said.
Naturally, the answer was yes, according to Preston, who pointed out the iconic nature of the Corvette and the last Stingray coupe in particular.
“Well, this is the end of an era,” Preston said. “We’ll never see a front-engine Corvette again, we will likely never see a manual transmission Corvette again, so this car represents the end of an era, the end of the front-engine Corvette, the end of the manual transmission Corvette. It absolutely belonged in the National Corvette Museum.”
Spande added that he believes the car “is just another example of the symbiotic relationship we have between the factory, the program team and the Museum. 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 car was produced last Thursday, Nov. 14 on the final day of C7 production before the plant began changing over to assemble the eagerly awaited C8 mid-engine Stingray.
It was presented to the NCM Wednesday during a ceremony there on Corvette Boulevard, including a finishing touch of autographs on the engine cover by representatives of GM Corvette Assembly and Schrodt.
Preston, with Schrodt riding shotgun, drove the historic car down the Boulevard, and it will be displayed at the Museum seven days a week as part of the “Generations” exhibit in the Skydome.
“Thanks to Ivan and his wife, Mary, for their continued support of the Museum, history, and education of Corvette!” an NCM spokesman said.
As Moore says, “it’s very much a bittersweet ending because the car has been so wildly successful.”
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