This engineering exercise was created under the auspice of a Safety Proposal, a program headed by Frank Winchell. The concept car was designed to test the feasibility of a V8-powered rear-engine Corvette. Winchell claimed after experience with the Corvair program that it was possible and practical to mount a Chevy V8 behind the rear axle producing a balanced performance car.
Zora Duntov was unimpressed and opted for a mid-engine design with more stability and continually pursued his idea. Larry Shinoda was assigned as the design leader along with John Schinella. It reflects several of Shinoda's later C3 design characteristics in the fender line, rear window deck area and swooping rear clamshell. The center of gravity is about eight inches in front of the rear wheel at a height of 14.5 inches. The completed car was brought to GM's test track.
Duntov was proven correct when it crashed during a high-speed lane change test conducted on a wet track. Chevrolet ordered XP-819 destroyed in 1969 and turned over the duties to Smokey Yunick's 'Best Damn Garage in Town' in Daytona Beach, FL. The car was cut apart and unceremoniously stored in Smokey's paint booth until it was discovered by Steve Tate. Years later it was purchased in pieces by a collector who enlisted Kevin MacKay of Corvette Repair, Inc. to complete frame-off restoration.