By Rick Morwick
On a fateful February night in 2014, a giant sinkhole opened beneath the showroom floor of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky. Miraculously, no one was injured. But the freak occurrence sent eight of the vintage American-built sports cars crashing to the bottom of a rocky 45-foot chasm.
One of those vehicles, a 1962 tuxedo black Corvette, belonged to David Donoho, an Indianapolis resident who, through the efforts of Zionsville attorney and close friend Beth Sease, had gifted the classic car to the museum in 2011. He did so to assure it would be meticulously cared for upon his death. A lifelong bachelor with no children, he died in 2013 at age 76, one year before the sinkhole swallowed his prized possession.
“When the sinkhole happened, thankfully he was gone, because it would have been devastating for him,” said Sease, who served as Donoho’s estate attorney for 20 years. “I began to see how it was his closest friend, almost. It was kind of a part of him. He purchased it when he was in high school.”
Fortunately for Donoho and Sease, the car’s story didn’t end at the bottom of a muddy sinkhole. Four years to the day after it fell in, the fully restored car was put back on display during a special Feb. 12 ceremony at the museum.
Sease, of the Burrus & Sease law firm in Zionsville, was invited to tell the car’s story, which is actually the story of an unassuming, blue-collar working man who had two passions: Corvettes and model trains, but especially Corvettes — and his 1962 machine, in particular.
“He kept it totally in its original condition,” Sease said. “The only thing he changed on it was when the convertible fabric was cracking with age, he replaced it with a hard top. But other than that, he used a certain kind of fuel and oil in it. He was really, really particular about it.”
Restored by the museum at an approximate cost of $28,000, the Corvette had significant damage to the rear end, frame and windshield. But of the eight cars that went into the sinkhole, it was one of only three that was salvageable.
“The car is absolutely stunning,” Sease said. “It looks just like he left it, absolutely just like he left it. The paint’s probably a little shinier. They just did a fabulous job on it.”