When Steve Keech hit the start button on the Motion Camaro SuperCoupe, you'd think he lit the candle under the space shuttle. As the monster Merlin/Motion 540 roared to life, the ground shook, and the viscera vibrated. This was one badass Camaro.
It's also like no other Camaro you've seen. Sure, everyone wrenches together some sort of monster-block Camaro at some time in their life, but this one's got pedigree-and lots of it. Its heritage goes back to the brutal Phase III Baldwin/Motion Camaros of yore that literally tore apart the pavement and humbled other supercars on the street and strip. Joel Rosen was the man behind Motion Performance back in the 1960s, and he personally guaranteed his cars could run the quarter in 11.50 seconds at 120 mph with a qualified driver. That was typical Rosen-no brag, just fact.
So when Rosen and his partners in the new Motion Performance decided to build a Camaro for the 21st century, it would retain the spirit of the old Phase III cars but with modern technology. At $450,000 it wouldn't be cheap, but only 12 handcrafted SuperCoupes would be built, so the chance of seeing another one would be somewhere between slim and none. This one-Serial Number 001- was sold at Barrett-Jackson to Ron Pratte of Chandler, Arizona, and is now part of his 200-plus car collection.
Renowned automotive custom designer Kris Horton styled the lines that blend the traditional look of the '69 Camaro with a modern, wider, lower profile. Phil Somers of Time Machines in Hudson, Florida, turned Horton's creation into reality. He began with a 2x3-inch steel tube chassis with an integrated backbone that attaches to the console hump and is welded directly to the body. An independent SLA front suspension boasts adjustable TNT Motorsports billet coilover shocks and a large-diameter stabilizer bar. At the rear is an independent suspension with a Dana 44 Posi pumpkin with high-torque axles and a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind, one-piece billet cover with the Motion name machined in the aluminum. A special set of Motion/Baer Extreme Plus 14-inch cross-drilled and slotted rotors and six-piston calipers were installed on the SuperCoupe.
The business end of the SuperCoupe is a dyno-tuned, 700-plus-hp, 540ci Merlin/Motion all-aluminum engine designed by Joel Rosen and built by Bill Mitchell, president of World Performance. Mitchell started with World's Merlin block and added a forged crank, Eagle 6.535-inch H-beam rods and 10:0.1 forged pistons. The Merlin III aluminum heads were treated to a COMP Cams roller valvetrain and a special Rosen-designed camshaft. The crown jewel atop the engine is the exotic Kinsler Cross Ram electronic sequential fuel injection. Everything on the Merlin/Motion engine is either polished or chromed and is just mind-blowing, even when it's not rumbling through the big 3-inch pipes. A full technical analysis of this engine appears in the February, 2006 issue of Super Chevy. Steve Keech of Keech's Performance in Sarasota, Florida, completed the final assembly, detailing and tuning. Strapped to the Merlin/Motion 540 is a Tremec TKO five-speed manual gearbox.
From its Rally Sport front end to the custom billet taillamp bezels, the all-steel Motion SuperCoupe shares the basic '69 Camaro design, but that's where the similarity stops. It's significantly wider in the quarters to accept the gargantuan 20x12-inch Bonspeed Intense custom wheels with Motion three-blade spinners mounting fat P335/30/20 Michelin Pilots. Functional inlets ahead of the rear-wheel opening funnel cold air to the brakes. The handbuilt, L88-styled dome hood is cantilever-designed to electrically lift up and forward to ease access to the engine for maintenance. Hundreds of hours went into the body's preparation, and it shows in the ripple-free panels, perfect seams and exact fit. A wide, silver center stripe and Motion badges on the grille, fenders and taillamp panel highlight the flawless Motion Red paint.
Since the engine sits back 13 inches from the stock location, there's no back seat. Instead, the rear is packed with high-tech audio/video Sony Xplod hardware. The handcrafted instrument panel is seamlessly integrated into the console. Rosen designed the special Motion gauges made by Classic Instruments that feature white backgrounds with black alphanumerics and red trim. To keep things cool, a Hot Rod Air A/C system was built into the dash. The six-way power seats were stitched by Hoyt's Auto Upholstery in Cha Cha red leather, with the Motion logo computer-stitched into the headrests. Simpson six-point harnesses remind you this is no vanilla big-block Camaro.
The Motion Camaro SuperCoupe debuted at the 2005 SEMA convention in Las Vegas and was the talk of the show. The biggest compliment came from General Motors, who awarded the SuperCoupe its Best GM Vehicle Design award. "In a crowded field of restyled GM products at SEMA this year," said Kip Wasenko, General Motor's Director of Special Vehicles Design, "the Baldwin/Motion 540 Camaro SuperCoupe literally stole the show with its extraordinary design, execution, attention to detail and flawless fit and finish."
Plans call for 12 SuperCoupes to be built. When those are gone, they'll join the other Baldwin/Motion legends of the past. That won't be the end of the new Motion program, however. Plans call for a new Phase III Camaro, and knowing Joel Rosen, it will be a take-no-prisoners, no-compromise supercar in the Baldwin/Motion tradition.