Since befriending John Murphy at Corvettes at Carlisle several years ago, George Rubistello has been a man on a mission. In his shop in Lake Peekskill, New York, is a historic '69 Baldwin Motion Phase III GT which, after 33 years in the same family, was finally restored to be sold to the highest bidder. "I did all the work on it-paintwork and restoration to the body," Rubistello says. "The car is going up for sale soon. We're taking it to Barrett Jackson. I've been taking it all over the place to get [the word] out there."
One of those places was Bloomington Gold, where we ran across the car. Obviously, documentation and promotion is the name of the game today. "Some people walk right past and don't realize what it is," Rubistello commented. "To them, it's just a modified."
What makes the Baldwin Motion Corvette more than a modified is the connection to Baldwin Chevrolet. The cars were invoiced brand new on the window sticker, with full body mods and engine upgrades. In this way, the Baldwin Motion Corvette (not merely the "Motion" Corvettes, meaning customer cars modified by Joel Rosen or with Rosen parts) are OEM stock.
John Murphy admits, "I like Corvettes. I go to the shows. But I'm not a die-hard where I would run to all the shows with it. So that's why I had it restored and George has been handling everything for me. That's where it stands."
Michael Murphy, John's brother, was the man who bought the Baldwin Motion Corvette in 1971, when cars like the Phase III GT were not yet collectible. By 1990, Murphy was getting lots of attention with the car. John remembers his brother turning down offers around $100,000 a little over 10 years ago.
Marty Schorr told us in his decidedly New York accent, "Now people will pay big bucks to have a real one. Joel documents them for people." Schorr, who was editor of Cars magazine in the glory days of the Baldwin Motion super cars (1967-1971), is referring to the legend himself, Joel Rosen, owner of Motion Performance, located at 598 Sunrise Highway in Long Island, New York. Five to ten minutes away was Baldwin Chevrolet in Baldwin, New York. In close proximity was Schorr's residence and the offices of Cars magazine. If you've ever looked at old copies of this East Coast mag, you've noticed Motion advertisements and editorial write-ups on Rosen's cars.
At last year's Supercar Reunion held near St. Louis, Rosen and Schorr were guest speakers. Schorr revealed to his audience he was a business partner with Rosen. He explained to Corvette Fever, "I was part and parcel of that program from 1967 to 1974. I did all the catalogs, advertising, promotion, naming of the options, and naming of the cars. I had a financial interest. Joel and I were business partners in other companies. Most of that was kept quiet for obvious reasons."
Today, the history is much more important than the complicity between advertising and editorial. Schorr's involvement partially explains why West Coast enthusiast magazines such as Popular Hot Rodding and Hot Rod did not cover the Baldwin Motion cars to any great extent. Schorr told us, "The problem was, the California books wouldn't write about it 'cause I had everything first."
However, Schorr, who is now writing a book on Motion cars, added, "Having the financial interest or partnership involvements with Joel didn't sway me editorially because the cars were legitimate and fast."
Rosen offered the famous written guarantee that his Phase III cars would run 11s in the quarter-mile. That guarantee applied to this Corvette, which is one of only 10 built on the Corvette platform for three model years, 1969, 1970, and 1971. Rosen offered his "Fantastic Five" in the Impala, Chevelle, Camaro, Nova, and Corvette lines.
Schorr told us, "All these cars were built one at a time, to the owner's custom order, and everything was delivered to a Chevrolet dealer. And you could get L88s, you could get anything you wanted on your car."