History was made in 1968, when Motion Performance took a Baldwin Chevrolet Corvette and made the first high-performance Baldwin-Motion C3. Motion founder Joel Rosen recounts, "The first Baldwin- Motion Corvette was a very-early-delivery 427/425 blue convertible. All we did to that car was dyno-tune it, add a few bolt-ons, and badge it. The first real Baldwin-Motion Corvettes were the '68 Phase III models, which had flares, scooped hood, high-horsepower [500hp] single-four-barrel 427, gears, mags, and more."
It's always a topic of discussion as to whether a particular Corvette is a real Baldwin-Motion car. To qualify as authentic, a car had to have been purchased, ordered, or traded to Baldwin Chevrolet and then customized at Motion before the buyer took delivery. Over the years, many people ordered parts or sent their cars to Motion after picking them up from the dealer. Although this sort of post-purchase enhancement does add value, cars so modified are not considered genuine Baldwin-Motion vehicles.
This '71 Corvette sporting Texas Tech colors is an excellent example of a Baldwin-Motion replica. It's very well executed, however, and only the most discerning of experts could distinguish it as anything but the genuine article. The iconic Baldwin-Motion paint scheme, along with the flared rear quarters and distinctive hoodscoop, would eliminate all doubt from the minds of the incredulous. But even though the car might pass as real in many circles, it most assuredly isn't.
Rosen explains: "Clones, replicas, tribute cars are two-edged swords. It's always flattering when people want to copy what you do. However, the problems with these cars are many. The biggest is that, while the builders reference their cars as 'tributes,' years later they filter in the market, and people try to sell them as the real deal. We see this all the time, and lots of people get hurt financially."
This particular clone was purchased at the Mecum High Performance Sale in Indianapolis in May 2009. At the time, it was clearly represented as a "replica." But to the car's new owner, Jeff Souter, that really didn't matter. Souter is no newcomer to the Corvette marketplace, and he wasn't fooled when the car crossed the auction block.
"I'm into flared-fender Corvettes and custom Corvettes that stand out from the crowd, but I am also into value and driveability," he says. "If it really was a Baldwin-Motion car, it would have been in the $100,000 range, and it would have been out of my price point. Plus, if it was a real Baldwin-Motion car, I couldn't bring myself to drive it, and I like to drive my cars."
Given Souter's experience, it seems there is a place in the market for replicas, after all. But, as Joel Rosen pointed out, there is no way to tell if the "replica" designation will disappear from a car's record over time. For that reason, it's critical that prospective collector-car buyers demand verifiable proof of a car's heritage. Because a story is just a story without supporting documentation. While searching the Internet for Baldwin-Motions available for sale, we found an example at Carsonline.com. The whole advertisement was very detailed and painted a compelling picture of a piece of automotive history, but the supporting documentation was absent. A portion of the ad read:
"Let me be clear, this car wasn't originally assembled by Motion Performance, so I guess by rights it should be called a clone, but all the parts used to make this car are authentic Motion Performance parts and all were purchased and installed on this car when it was NEW."
This rather circumlocutory description underscores the difficulty of establishing the provenance of a Baldwin-Motion (or other vintage tuner) Corvette. Just remember that the amount of documentation present can mean the difference between a $30,000 price tag and one in the triple digits. Consider the well-documented '69 Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT coupe that struck gold at Barrett Jackson in 2005, with a sale price of $231,000.
These days, with the amount of information and the number of research tools available online, it's considerably more difficult to pass off clones and tributes as the real deal. And as Jeff Souter's experience shows, many people will be more than satisfied with a nicely done, driveable replica. It all comes down to what your goals areàand the size of your bank account. vette