Rare Corvette To Be Shown
Part of Amelia Island Show in March
Larry Jewett - December 06, 2011 12:56 PM
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is famous for featuring unique and rarely seen “star cars”. The radical rear engine experimental Corvette XP-819 will keep that tradition alive on the weekend of March 9-11, 2012.
GM legend and Corvette godfather Zora Arkus-Duntov didn’t like the rear engine Corvette XP-819 concept. It was created in 1964 despite a disagreement between Duntov and Chevrolet engineering chief Frank Winchell about the viability of a rear engine Corvette.
Experience with the Corvair project caused Winchell to believe that a Corvette with a rear-mounted aluminum V-8 engine was conceptually and commercially sound. Duntov disagreed. Famed GM designer Larry Shinoda was given the task of improving Winchell’s mold-breaking rear engine Corvette design. After refining the concept and designing a car that was to Duntov’s liking, the experimental rear engine Corvette was running in just two months. While the XP-819 couldn’t be mistaken for anything but a Corvette some GM insiders claimed it bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the new mid-engine Porsche 904.
The XP-819 did not see production. While the engine’s weight and position were at the core of the XP-819’s shortcomings, its dynamic problems were also blamed on the use of standard size Corvette wheels and tires.With the weight of the V-8 engine behind the rear axle, proper balance was not achieved and the XP-819 was crashed during a high-speed lane change test.
What was left of XP-819 was sent to Smokey Yunick’s legendary “Best Damn Garage in Town “in Daytona Beach, Florida, where it was cut up and stripped of usable parts. The rest was bought by a Corvette collector. The XP-819 was rebuilt and is now owned by Corvette aficionado Mike Yager, founder of Mid America Motorworks , one of the nation’s leading suppliers of Corvette parts.
“So many valuable prototypes disappear or end up in the junk yard once their usefulness ends,” said Bill Warner, Amelia’s founder and chairman. “I’m glad this one made it back to tell its story. It’s a unique piece of GM heritage and a design that might have worked if it had more development and testing time; just look at the Porsche 911.”
The 2012 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance will be held March 9-11 on the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. The honoree for 2012 will be rally and endurance legend Vic Elford and the iconic Ferrari GTO will be featured. The show’s Foundation has donated nearly $1.8 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Inc. and other charities on Florida’s First Coast since its inception in 1996.
For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org or call 904-636-0027.