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    The Rear-Engine Corvette That Was Never to Be

    The Rear-Engine Corvette That Was Never to Be

    Published: January 11, 2013
    New York Times

    TIME LAPSE The 1964 XP-819 had the unmistakable proportions of a rear-engine car, but its shape previewed the third-generation Corvette of 1968

    ON Sunday evening, just ahead of two press preview days for the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Chevrolet will unveil the seventh generation of the Corvette. While the two-seat sports car accounts for a small fraction of Chevyís total sales, it is a vital element of the brandís image ó and, in fact, its longest-running passenger-car nameplate.

    The debut of the redesigned 2014 model, known among the Corvette faithful as the C7 and set to go on sale in the fall, will answer questions that have swirled around enthusiastsí online forums for years. Among the unknowns to be resolved is the carís basic layout: will the engine be in the front as it has been for 60 years (most likely), or will it at last be positioned behind the passenger compartment (quite doubtful), as many fans of exotic sports cars have long felt it needed to be?

    As details of the new car are being revealed in Detroit, some 600 miles to the east a storied Corvette engineering prototype will be progressing toward the final phases of a restoration. The XP-819, a one-of-a-kind research vehicle developed by General Motors engineers in the 1960s, is one of the cars that has given rise to recurring rumors that each new generation of Corvette may be the breakthrough model elevating the Chevy to supercar status. Long out of sight after a crash during testing, the XP-819 is being brought back to life at the Long Island shop of Kevin Mackay.

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