Bowling Green Kentucky has been the home of the Corvette since the early 1980’s. The intimate Corvette Factory Tour takes you out onto the factory floor inches from the assembly line to see almost every aspect of the build.
The first step, have a reservation. Visit their website here or here for more details. Make sure you arrive early, the website will warn you when you make a reservation but they are serious. Just because you have a reservation doesn’t mean they won’t bump someone into your spot. The reservation online is subject to change based on tour groups and how busy they are. Arriving early helps secure your spot. There is a nice waiting room with about 70 chairs, water and restrooms for your comfort. A continuous video will keep you entertained for a few minutes. However, you can’t bring any cameras, cell phones, tablets or electronics of any kind. We had a difficult time keeping the kids amused while waiting. They were so excited they kept asking, “When do we start? Are we next?”
Note: Children under 7 are not allowed on the tour.
The tour itself is guided and about one hour and a mile long. It was an easy walk and the kids didn’t feel tired. The only hard part was trying to keep up with the group when walking between areas. There is a lot to see and it’s an active plant. There are forklifts driving around and cars being built within a few feet. I never felt the kids were unsafe or in danger. We did, however, make the younger kids hold an adult’s hand (for our sanity). The plant was loud there are items constantly moving but I didn’t think the kids got too overwhelmed. They were thoroughly engaged with the tour although the talking might have been a tiny bit boring for them (but not for adults). There were only six children in our tour group and two assembly workers stepped off the line to hand two of the kids Hot Wheel corvettes, signed by the workers. Of course, since they are signed we had to keep them as keepsakes. Therefore, dad was obligated to purchase identical Hot Wheels from the gift store (not at your typical $1 price, sigh). The gift store had some other fun things.
During the tour we saw robots assembling some items overall but this car is assembled mostly by hand. It takes a lot of people to make one car. We saw the safety performance tests and even a special area where you can build your own motor (Performance Build Center). At the end of the tour one lucky tour member was able to crank up a Corvette for the first time. People who buy a Corvette can even go there to drive their car off the assembly line.
If I remember well, there was no bathroom break on the tour. This presented a problem for the smaller kids. I’d recommend controlling their liquid intake an hour prior to the tour.
This tour was over-the-top fun and educational. I feel the kids have a better understanding of the science and engineering that goes into making a car. They can see the manufacturing process and understand that it takes a lot of people and a lot of steps to make a quality product.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I hope we can tour other manufacturing plants as a family. I really enjoyed touring Ford’s Rouge Assembly Plant in Detroit.
Now every time we pass a Corvette the kids talk about the factory and how they’re going to get one when they get older. Can dad have a ride?
Bowling Green has two Corvette activities worthy of any urban explorer or enthusiast. The second is the National Corvette Museum which is within a mile of the assembly plant. The facilities are two independent entities and there are currently no discounts for touring both. If you time your factory tour properly you can easily visit both facilities the same day. In front of the factory they have a small section of 7-10 Corvettes on display. The kids enjoyed seeing the different models. I wish we would have had time for the National Corvette Museum.