The GM Bowling Green Assembly Plant held a press conference last week, announcing that the Performance Build Center, currently located at the Wixom, MI facility, will move to the GM Chevrolet Corvette Assembly Plant by the first quarter of 2014. The current PBC employs 29, and builds engines for the Grand Sport Coupe manual, Z06, 427 Convertible and Corvette ZR1. 3,376 engines were each built by hand at the factory during the 2011 calendar year, and each engine bears the name of the person who built it.
"I'm very happy to announce today that GM will move its Performance Build Center, which allows engine enthusiasts to build their own specialty engines, from Michigan, and we're going to bring it right here to Bowling Green" said Arvin Jones, Manufacturing Manager for GM North America.
A program was first rolled out for the 2011 Corvette Z06 and ZR1 where car buyers had the option to pay $5,800 to participate in hand-assembling their engine. For the 2013 model year the program was available for the Grand Sport Coupe (with manual transmission), 427 Convertible, Z06 and ZR1. With the guidance of the world-class craftsmen who assemble these engines every day, buyers can enjoy an experience of a lifetime. The program, known as the Corvette Engine Build Experience, is believed to be the first of its kind, offering another level of customer involvement to the new car buying process and strengthening Chevrolet's ties to its most loyal customers.
“Corvette owners are some of the most passionate – and most involved – enthusiasts in the industry,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet marketing. “The Corvette Engine Build Experience offers customers an unprecedented opportunity to participate, hands on, in creating the car.”
A whole one-day process, it is supervised by the Build Center's skilled craftsmen, and all engines are tested and certified - plus receive a full warranty - before leaving the facility. Participants receive a flash drive documenting their experience, and their photo is placed on a wall near the entrance to the production floor. Additionally, the owner has their name affixed on a special plate next to the one bearing the name of the master builder.
With the Performance Build Center relocating to Bowling Green, there is the opportunity for the National Corvette Museum to become involved with the Engine Build Experience and further expand the offerings of the Museum Delivery Program.
"We’ve got lots of excitement headed our way." said GM Bowling Green Assembly Plant Manager Dave Tatman. "We intend to make the full transition to the Performance Build Center by the first quarter of 2014. Lots of details have got to be worked out yet, but obviously we wanted to share that great news with you. As you think about this, I know Wendell, that you and your team are jumping up and down thinking about [how] we can continue to combine our efforts between the National Corvette Museum and the Bowling Green Assembly Plant and this new opportunity, and we look forward to those discussions as well.
This program would join other programs currently offered by the Museum, including VIP Corvette Plant Tours, Corvette Photo Albums documenting the build of an individual's car, Corvette Buyer's Tour where you can watch your car being built and R8C Delivery where your pickup your new Corvette at the Museum and receive VIP tours of the Plant and Museum.