Thursday, March 01, 2007

Shutterbug took 'Vette for joyride

Saturday, February 24, 2007
Shutterbug took 'Vette for joyride
Eric Morath / The Detroit News

A Romulus loading dock worker not only took spy photos of a top-secret Chevrolet Corvette -- he took the super high-performance sports car for a test drive, according to a police report.

The employee drove the prototype car, valued at $1 million, around a parking lot on Monday, and used a camera phone to take some 23 photos of the vehicle, the report states.

The report was obtained Friday by the automotive blog and posted to its Web site. Romulus police would not release the report to The Detroit News on Friday afternoon, saying it was part of an ongoing investigation.

The incident took place at the Central States Trucking Co.'s facility near Detroit Metropolitan Airport the day before the vehicle was shipped to Germany

Several photos showing the Corvette's exterior and engine began appearing Thursday on auto enthusiast Web sites. The police report specifically said the pictures were sent to

Pictures were removed from that site at Central States Trucking's request, but remained on other sites, such as

The car was identified as a prototype of the 2009 Corvette SS, a 600-plus horsepower supercar dubbed the "Blue Devil," after General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner's alma mater, Duke University.

The police report said the loading dock worker was fired and civil action may be pending. He had worked for Central States Trucking since June.

A source close to the situation, who asked not to be identified, said it is odd that such a highly sensitive vehicle was packed in such an unsecured fashion, to the point it could be driven, rather than completely crated.

Automakers have struggled in recent years to keep a lid on photos of cars in development as Web sites aimed at auto enthusiasts have proliferated.

GM spokesman Terry Rhadigan would not confirm that the photos that appeared online were of the Corvette prototype. He also said he didn't believe it was GM that called police about the illicit photos. He said GM is continuing to investigate how the photos were leaked.

"Clearly this is a security violation," he said. "But we're still in the midst of investigation. As far as any next step, we're not in position to talk about that."

A receptionist at Central State Trucking's Bensenville, Ill., headquarters said company officials would not discuss the situation.

Rhadigan said he didn't know how police came to value the car at $1 million and said not all concept cars are valued at that amount.

A production Corvette Z06 starts at $70,000.

The Internet has been abuzz in recent weeks with speculation about GM's rumored development of a 600-plus horsepower Corvette supercar.

© Copyright 2007 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.


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