Empty exhibits, eating outside, and cars staged 6 feet apart: What it's like to take delivery of the historic mid-engine Chevy Corvette during a pandemic

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  • As the US now claims the world's largest coronavirus outbreak, passing China and Italy on March 26, novelty "museum deliveries" of the new mid-engine Chevy Corvette continue.
  • The $995 optional delivery is done at the Corvette Museum in Kentucky, where buyers get a guided tour and their car put on display, rather than just picking it up at a dealership.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, a spokesperson for the museum outlined all of the precautions being taken, which include signage about the virus, a ban on handshakes, and regular wipe downs of surfaces. 
  • The federal government has extended its social-distancing guidelines through at least April 30.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The eighth-generation "C8" Chevy Corvette - meant to be a historic, decades-in-the-making debut of a mid-engine supercar for the masses - hasn't exactly gotten the spotlight as planned due to a series of, well, unfortunate events

But the latest of those, the coronavirus pandemic, hasn't stopped one thing, even amid federal guidance to practice social distancing through at least April 30: novelty $995 deliveries at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where visitors pick up their new Corvettes in as much of a VIP experience as can be offered from six feet away.Advertisement

"When we arrived, we had to take precautions and the cars were all six feet apart, of course," Victoria Falz, who recently took museum delivery of a bright-red C8, told Business Insider over the phone. "When we got to eat, we couldn't eat inside, we had to eat outside. And I made sure, and my family made sure, we wiped down everything with Lysol wipes and used hand sanitizer constantly."

National Corvette Museum
Falz's visit happened during the US's ongoing upswing of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has thus far infected more than 874,000 people and killed more than 43,000 worldwide. The US topped China and Italy for the world's largest coronavirus outbreak on March 26, which was about a week after the Detroit Big Three - Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors - shut down US plants after pushback from the United Auto Workers union about keeping them open as cases racked up. Multiple UAW members have died of the disease.
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The Corvette Museum, situated down the road from GM's Bowling Green Assembly plant that produces the model, closed to the public on March 18 - the same day GM announced it would suspend US production "until at least March 30." The company later suspended production indefinitely, and deferred 20% of its 69,000 salaried employees' pay in order to "help ensure that [GM] can regain [its] momentum as quickly as possible after this crisis is over."

But the museum stayed open to private visitors, like the customers picking up the new C8 Corvette through GM's "R8C" delivery option. R8C deliveries for the C8 model began on March 10, and the package includes a VIP museum tour, where owners' cars are put on display, as well as a car orientation and commemorative souvenirs.Essentially, it's just a fancy custom-delivery option for people excited about their Corvette. Advertisement

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A spokesperson for the museum, Katie Ellison, told Business Insider that given the coronavirus pandemic, "about half" of the customers who originally chose to do museum delivery instead decided to have a transporter pick up their cars and "will take advantage of their day in the spotlight on a future date." A General Motors spokesperson added that Chevy is working with customers who opt out of museum delivery to have their car diverted to a nearby dealership, and said they'll get credit for the option if they decide not to use it. 

But for those who choose to go through with it in spite of the pandemic, Ellison said the museum is still allowed to conduct R8C deliveries under state guidelines.Advertisement

"Our state has allowed us to deliver these cars as they are bought and paid for," Ellison said, adding that as of March 26, Bowling Green had nine confirmed coronavirus cases. "We do not want to hold people's cars or prevent them from picking up their property."

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Ellison said the museum has signs up on every door, including a big stop sign, saying that anyone who is sick or has been in the past 24 hours isn't allowed in. There's also signage about preventing the spread of germs, hand sanitizer around the museum, shorter-than-normal deliveries, and some staffers are choosing to wear gloves. Advertisement

The museum is wiping down surfaces multiple times per day and monitoring the conditions of staff and guests, Ellison said. There are no handshakes, the tours are socially distanced and the groups are small, and staff have been allowed to take time off if they aren't comfortable at work - but the deliveries continue. 

Falz, whose entire family of Corvette enthusiasts was supposed to go to the big day before the pandemic broke out, ended up going with a much smaller group. The museum was already closed to the public when they arrived, and Falz said it was "definitely weird" to go at a time like this, but that the family wanted to get away from their New York home - especially given that New York City has become the epicenter of COVID-19 in the US, with more than 36,000 confirmed cases and nearly 800 deaths as of a few days ago.

"We actually drove," said Falz, who posted a YouTube recap about trailering the car 900 miles back from the museum. "Even if the flight was empty, we just didn't want to take the risk and be exposed to anything, so we decided to drive. We had the hitch on the car, we towed the car back up ourselves, loaded it on ourselves, and took it back off ourselves, and it was quite an experience." Advertisement

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When asked if it felt like the museum handled things safely from a customer perspective, Falz said: "Yes, 100%," even if it was a little surreal. "It was very different because it was empty - usually, there are a lot of people there," Falz said. "It wasn't like a normal museum, it was just us and our tour guide.Advertisement

"We were kind of expecting something that was a little bit more grand, but with what the museum did for us, we did really have a good time and they did it to the best of their ability. We really all enjoyed ourselves, but it definitely was different from what it could have been if the virus wasn't taking over like this."

Now, they're back home, while the coronavirus rages on - just like the Corvette deliveries.

Do you have a personal experience with the coronavirus you'd like to share? Or a tip on how your town or community is handling the pandemic? Please email covidtips@businessinsider.com and tell us your story.Advertisement

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