Seen at Amelia Island

Larry Jewett - March 11, 2013 10:03 AM

ImageBill Erdman
ImageBill Erdman

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Visitors to the recent the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance got a chance to see the latest chapter in the controversial history of the 1964 XP-819 rear-engine Corvette. The car appeared as a drivable chassis, unveiled to the public for the first time. Photographer Bill Erdman provided these exclusive pre-show shots.
Mike Yager, founder and Chief Cheerleader of Mid America Motorworks, acquired XP-819 in 2002 when he bought it at an auction in Monterey, California. He quickly enlisted the help of Kevin Mackay, expert restorer and owner of Corvette Repair, Inc. in Valley Stream, New York, to complete a frame-off restoration. As Mackay dug into the restoration, he realized that this would be the most challenging project he ever worked on when each missing part had to be handmade, as no other car in the world shares XP-819’s build.
The drivable chassis cruised onto the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance show field with fully functional brakes, steering column and two seats. Mackay, who has more than 3,500 hours into the restoration, hopes to have the finished car, including the body, ready to debut in 2014 at the same show.
“I am looking forward to the day when XP-819 finds its way back home to MY Garage Museum,” Yager said. “It will be exciting to show guests a Corvette that I can confidently say they have never seen before!”
This engineering exercise was created under the auspice of a Safety Proposal, a program headed by Frank Winchell. Zora Duntov was unimpressed and opted for a mid-engine design with more stability and continually pursued his idea. XP-819 reflects several of Larry Shinoda and John Schinella’s later C3 design characteristics in the fender line, rear window deck area and swooping rear clamshell.
Chevrolet ordered XP-819 destroyed in 1969 and turned over the duties to Smokey Yunick. XP-819 was cut apart and stripped of usable parts and then unceremoniously stored in Yunick’s shop out of Daytona Beach, Fla. until it was discovered by Steve Tate, a Chevy dealer out of Gallatin, Missouri.