It’s not often that Corvette enthusiasts can say they will have a chance to see a car they’ve never seen before.
But come the week of March 8-10, at the 18th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida, the 1964 rear engine experimental Corvette known as the XP-819 will be unveiled to the public for the first time ever.
It’ll mark the debut of the nearly 50-year-old car after expert restorer Kevin Mackay’s more than 3,500 hours of restoration at the request of Mike Yager, the founder and Chief Cheerleader of Mid America Motorworks who bought it at an auction in California 11 years ago.
The XP-819 is a rear-engine Corvette built under the auspices of a Safety Proposal program headed by Frank Winchell. Zora Duntov didn’t care much for the car and preferred a mid-engine design instead.
XP-819 is significant since it shows some of the later C3 design characteristics of Larry Shinoda and John Schinella in the fender line, rear window deck area, and swooping rear clamshell.
Chevrolet ordered the XP-819 destroyed in 1969 and asked Smokey Yunick to do the honors. The car was indeed cut apart and stripped of usable parts and then stored in Yunick’s shop in Daytona Beach, Fla., where it remained for years until it was found by a Chevy dealer out of Missouri.
Since the car had been dismantled and stripped of some parts, Mackay soon found out that the restoration job would definitely not be an easy one. Each missing part had to be made by hand since no other car in the world shares XP-819’s build.
“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!”
Thanks to Yager and Mackay, the XP-819 will drive onto the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance show field next month with fully functional brakes, steering column, and two seats.
Corvette enthusiasts can be grateful that these two men were willing to sink so much time and money into making sure that a unique piece of Corvette history, once in danger of disappearing forever, will once again live on forever.
Mid America Motorworks