Last month we took you behind the scenes at American Supercar in Hudson, Florida, and showed you how Phil Somers custom built Baldwin-Motion's wild Camaro SuperSpeedster. This month, we're here to show you the result of his handiwork, and it's unlike anything you've ever seen before.
The two-seat, coach-built SuperSpeedster is the second in the Baldwin-Motion Super Series. Last year, its Camaro SuperCoupe debuted at the 2005 SEMA convention in Las Vegas and blew the roof off the Convention Center. The two-seat custom bodied Camaro boasted a 540 cubic inch Kinsler Cross Ram all-aluminum big- block that produced over 700 horsepower. After getting the word out that Joel Rosen and the Motion name was back in the turn-key car business after 30 years, the SuperCoupe went to the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale the following January and fetched a cool $450,000.
Along with the Phase III and SS-427 Camaros, the Super Series may have generated more interest then the original Baldwin-Motion supercars built by Rosen from 1967-1974. Those were the pavement melting Camaros, Chevelles, Novas, Corvettes, and Chevrolets Motion Performance guaranteed would go mid 11s with a qualified driver.
Now it's 2007 and Motion Performance is back in the supercar business in ways never dreamed of 40 years ago. While the cars remain true to their big-block heritage, today's Baldwin-Motion SS-427 and Phase III Camaros are light years ahead of their forebears, bristling with the latest technology in brakes, suspensions, and audio systems. Clocking a 10-second quarter-mile, and then cruising home with the air on and Ludacris kickin' from a 2,200-watt Sony 10-speaker Xplod audio system is what you'd expect from these guys.
No, they're not cheap, but consider this. A genuine Baldwin-Motion Phase III Camaro built by Joel Rosen in 1969 will set you back $400,000, and you'd be afraid to drive it for fear of being rear ended by some 20-year-old in a Hyundai talking on a cell phone. A new Phase III or SS-427 Motion Camaro costs half that and is such a far better ride.
If the Phase III and SS-427 Camaros carry on the Motion tradition, the SuperSpeedster lays out big time braggin' rights for the Sarasota, Florida-based company. And don't think Rosen is just loaning out his name and cashing the checks; he's a big part of the development and engineering of each car. "Mr. Motion" is still magic with a big-block engine. His camshaft designs and techniques for building ultimate Rat motors weren't learned overnight. He's been doing this sort of thing since the early '60s when he opened a dyno shop in Brooklyn, New York.
That means the SuperSpeedster's massive 540 cubic inch engine, fitted with a Kinsler Cross Ram fuel injection, has the potential to tear your head clean off. Motion starts with a aluminum block with a 4.50-inch bore and 4.25-inch stroke to produce 540 cubic inches. The bottom end features a forged crank with Eagle 6.535 H-beam rods and 10.0:1 forged pistons. The Dart heads were treated to a complete cleanup, focusing on the chambers and valve seats as well as port and polish job. The Comp Cams stick is a secret grind by Rosen and bumps a roller valvetrain. Topside is a rare pair of original Motion valve covers and that exquisitely precise Kinsler Cross Ram with sequential electronic fuel injection for optimum performance and drivability.
The engine is set back 13 inches for superb front to rear weight distribution and is mated to a Tremec five-speed transmission. A trip to the state of the art chassis dyno cell at Areocomp Racing in Sanford, Florida, gave us an idea of just how well the Motion 540 engine runs. At 5,500 rpm the engine produced 522.2 rear wheel horsepower and 534.4 lb-ft of rear wheel torque at 5,000 rpm. We can tell you that there's lots more grunt in this engine because the charts were still climbing straight up before they shut it down. It's safe to say that the Motion 540 is making an easy 725 horsepower at the flywheel on pump gas, and it wasn't even breathing hard.
To get all that power planted firmly on the asphalt, a Motion independent rear suspension, with cast aluminum unequal-length upper and lower control arms with toe-control links and Penske coilover shocks is used. Nestled in the center of the narrowed rear is a Dana 44-4 Hydra-Lok speed sensing limited-slip differential, connected to the Tremec by a Precision Shaft Technologies driveshaft. Up front is an aluminum independent SLA setup with Penske coilovers and stabilizer bar.
By today's standards, a performance car has to have a balance between acceleration, and braking, steering and cornering. The SuperSpeedster's steering is a variable ratio, power-assisted rack and pinion setup. The braking system is up to the task as well. Two-piece, 14-inch Baer/Motion Extreme-Plus rotors are cross-drilled and slotted, and fitted with dual opposing Motion six-piston calipers. The front 18x10-inch Bonspeed wheels are fitted with 285/30ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport tires, and massive 19x12 Bonspeeds at the rear ride on 345/30ZR19 Michelin Pilot Sports.
Wrapped around all the gorgeous mechanicals is a sensually curved body that accentuates the already classic 1969 Camaro lines. Phil Somers took Motion CEO Larry Jaworske's basic speedster concept and designed a body so voluptuous it nearly vibrates. While the SuperSpeedster is based on a genuine 1969 Camaro convertible (Motion prefers to use real cars with VIN numbers for ease of registration and licensing), by the time Phil was done cutting, welding, hammering, and shaping, not much of the original body was left. The result of his handiwork is literally a rolling piece of art.
Every panel on the body is steel except the deck and the hood. The quarter panels were widened five inches ("stretched, cut and altered beyond description," Phil says) and a large functional brake scoop was cut and trimmed with billet fins to aid airflow to the rear brakes. The trunk and back panels were removed, and the top of the quarter-panels were reshaped and smoothed into the headrest mounts.
A hand-laid fiberglass tonneau replaces the standard decklid and snugs up the headrest mounts and the chromed "Motion hoops." The rear wing/spoiler was reshaped to mimic the lines of the back panel with a recess for the third brake light. The rear was tubbed and the trunk area modified with a huge box for the twin 10-inch woofers that channel sound through the center console tube and a large round opening between the seats. This in essence makes the body a component of the speaker system, which is powered by a Sony AM/FM/CD Xplod system with over 1,000 watts of power
To balance the symmetry of the SuperSpeedster's bulging rear quarters, Phil cut and stretched the front fenders by 2 1/2 inches on each side. The lower bodyline was welded up and smoothed. The side wind splits that begin at the front wheel openings and extend rearwards into the doors were brought out 1/2-inch and then repeated in the quarter panels. The doors were shaved and the inner frames reworked to accept the armrest/glove box and speaker assemblies. The windshield moldings were removed, the corners were cut, and the molding replaced in black.
The power-operated hood was lengthened six inches to incorporate the cowl panel. The Stinger hood scoop was modified by increasing its height by 1 1/2 inches to clear the Kinsler Cross Ram. The header is the only panel on the car that remains stock and unchanged ("I'll try harder next time to change every panel on the car," Phil promises). An octagon mesh was added to the grille and framed by the chrome trim molding. The bumper was narrowed, trimmed, shaved, and smoothed. The lower valance uses Marquez parking lamps, and a second set of outboard openings were added, and the bezels from another set of lamps were cut and fitted. Vertical fins were then welded-in to direct cold air to the front disc brakes.
The dazzling Motion Yellow paint is contrasted by a wide charcoal stripe that runs the length of the car on the top and the bottom sides of the panels. Open the decklid, look underneath and the stripe is mirrored. Same deal with the hood. The stripe also runs the length of the interior and separates the twin instrument panel pods. On the driver's side is a machine polished billet gauge cluster made from 1 1/2-inch sheet aluminum designed by Somers and fitted with ultra light, carbon fiber Auto Meter gauges. The passenger side of the panel is also machine turned with floating grab bar.
The leather-covered buckets are from the C5 Corvette and are fitted with four-point Simpson racing harnesses. The console top is trimmed with a matching machine turned panel. Phil chose a "machined" theme for all the interior hardware including pedals, door handles, shifter, and the four-spoke steering wheel. If you've been wondering where the master cylinders for the brake and clutch were hidden, they're under the dash, as is the Hydro Boost. The fuel and brake lines were run through the frame for safety.
You may be asking yourself how much green it takes to buy a SuperSpeedster. "Since the Motion SuperSpeedster is essentially a made-to-measure car, no two are exactly alike," said Joel Ehrenpreis, Motion's president. "You can use a base price of $475,000 to start, and then add on the options. It's safe to say this is a $500,000 car."
What can someone do with a supercar that costs a cool half mil? No doubt you'd have the admiration of your friends and neighbors. Seriously, few of the SuperSpeedsters will be built, making each one of them a unique example in the art of handcrafted, coach-built customs that recall an earlier age of artisans like Winfield, Barris, and Jeffries. And that could make the Motion SuperSpeedster even more collectible as the years go by.