History Of Baldwin Motion Corvettes - Mr. Motion And His Corvettes - Part Two

Martyn L. Schorr Dec 1, 2002 0 Comment(s)
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We started building Phase III GTs to order in 1969, with production ending in 1971," Joel Rosen told us. "The GT was just too expensive for the audience that we had cultivated for big-block Camaros, Chevelles, Novas, and our $3,000 SS-427 Street Racer Special Biscaynes. The most expensive GT built, the air-conditioned '70 Daytona Yellow GT that Thomas Squire ordered on February 2nd, 1970, went out the door for over $13,000 including delivery to Los Angeles, Calfornia. It's one of only three GTs accounted for today." Squire's Phase III GT, powered by a blueprinted 535hp Phase III 454, had been clocked at 0-to-60 mph in 4.4 seconds with a top speed of over 150 mph prior to delivery. The engine was backed up by a modified Turbo 400 automatic fitted with a Hone Overdrive which allowed high-speed cruising with the 4.88 rear gears. It spent most of its life in the Warner Brothers studio fleet and was found by Rosen in the early 1990s finished in black paint that looked as though it were applied with a brush! It was restored for Rosen by New Jersey Corvette specialists Randy Bianchi and John Walleck for its "coming out party" at the 1993 New York Auto Show. Fortunately, Rosen was able to supply the car's original paperwork including customer invoice and shop orders, insuring the restoration would be totally accurate. It remained in Rosen's personal collection until last year. "Although we only sold few GTs, we ended up doing an incredible business marketing individual GT body parts and conversion kits to shops that specialized in customizing Corvettes," said Rosen.

Aside from the obvious performance and styling that Corvette enthusiasts couldn't get from Chevrolet, the Baldwin-Motion GT Corvette offered an A/C option with its highest-horsepower solid-lifter engines. That's right, 500-plus-hp, open-chamber heads, solid lifter cam, and air conditioning! When a Baldwin-Motion Corvette customer ordered an ultra-high-performance powertrain and air conditioning, Rosen simply ordered the Corvette from Chevrolet with the highest-horsepower engine option that was available with air conditioning. With the in-car plumbing in place, it was possible to build a monster air-conditioned Corvette. To keep the revs down during high-speed cruising and extend air-conditioner compressor life, Rosen suggested also ordering a Hone Overdrive which worked with automatic as well as four-speed transmissions. It reduced the final drive ratio (numerically) by a full 30 percent (4.88/3.42:1).

During this period Rosen limited Motion's racing activities primarily to big-block Camaros running in A/Modified Production. By winning a lot and setting AHRA and NHRA records with a succession of big-inch Camaros (driven first by Bill Mitchell and later by Dennis Ferrara), Rosen insured a big-following for the Baldwin-Motion Camaros that formed the basis for his specialty car business. He sponsored some high-profile small- and big-block Camaros campaigned by name-brand drag racers to keep Motion in front of the fans. In addition to KO-MOTION Rosen was also a sponsor of the NHRA record-setting drag racing Corvettes campaigned by Floridian Bo Laws.

Not long after successfully debuting the Phase III GT Corvette Rosen got involved in building and marketing replicas of Chevrolet's Mako Shark Corvette showcar, the concept car that was the forerunner of the production '68 Stingray. He showed a prototype in 1970, complete with louvered and tapered backlight, tilt frontend and a multihued blue shark paint job. Badged as the Baldwin-Motion "Maco Shark" (to avoid a conflict with GM), Rosen did a brisk business building replicas and marketing body conversion kits.


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