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The eight cars swallowed by a gaping sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum will be exhumed in the coming weeks and sent to Michigan where Chevrolet will repair them.

GM's head of global product development Mark Reuss said Thursday the damaged vehicles are some of the most significant in auto history.

"We want to ensure as many of the damaged cars are restored as possible so fans from around the world can enjoy them when the Museum reopens," Reuss said in a prepared statement.

Museum officials hope to have damage caused by a 40-foot sinkhole that swallowed eight cars Wednesday repaired by the time the museum celebrates its 20th anniversary in August.

Sometime before 5:30 a.m. CST, the sinkhole started to form and by 5:44 a.m. motion detectors started going off, the museum said. No one was in or around the museum at the time, said Executive Director Wendell Strode.

Construction crews will begin work Friday to repair the museum and will take up to three weeks to stabilize and secure the area, said Mike Murphy, Scott, Murphy & Daniel Construction's CEO.

Murphy said during a news conference at the museum Thursday that his company will secure the sinkhole and its surrounding areas to prevent future sinkholes from affecting the museum.

Once the area is secured, crews will need up to six days to extract the cars. The ground beneath the museum will be replaced, and a new flooring system will be installed, Murphy said.

The sinkhole consumed eight prized cars like they were toys early Wednesday when the museum was closed. Six of the cars are owned by the museum in Bowling Green, Ky., and two are on loan from General Motors.

The cars include a 1992 white 1 millionth Corvette and a 2009 white 1.5 millionth Corvette.

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