A Review of “Motion Performance – Tales of a Muscle Car Builder.” The official history of the Baldwin-Motion Phase III Supercars told by the man behind the marketing and development of these uniquely American specialty supercars – Marty Schorr.
I was in the 8th grade when the ‘68 Corvette was released with its Mako Shark-inspired new body design. It was as if “the future” had arrived! A few months later, I bought the latest issue of CARS Magazine because of an OUTRAGEOUS yellow Corvette on the cover, called the “Baldwin-Motion Phase III SS-427 Corvette.” The first thing I noticed was the ‘67 big-block scoop on top of the ‘68 427 hood dome and there was a Pontiac hood-mounted tach. Side-pipes weren’t an option in ‘68, but this car was wearing a set of ‘65 – ‘67 side-pipes with the finned aluminum covers. COOL! The deep-dish Cragar mags were wearing fat, L-series tires, and the wheel well openings were flared to cover the wide tires. This was the COOLEST VETTE I have ever seen!
I shared the magazine with my car buddies at school, then a few weeks later, they went ballistic when I showed them my Motion-Performance catalog. Each of “The Fantastic Five” Phase III Chevys were guaranteed to run 11.5 in the quarter-mile! Over the next four years that I was in school, CARS Magazine paid plenty of attention to the Baldwin-Motion cars. It was truly, tons of fun! I’m certain that back in the day, Joel Rosen, the tuner and builder of the Phase III cars and Marty Schorr, the creator of all of those delightful, “in-your-face” ads and fun to read road tests, had no clue that they were creating legions of fans.
Early ‘09 I was talking with Marty for an interview in VETTE Magazine and I asked if he had any special projects in the works. When he told me that he was writing the history of Baldwin-Motion for Motorbooks International, I knew that Motion fans were in for a treat. There isn’t anyone on the planet with the knowledge-base and writing skills to tell this story. You won’t get a better accounting of the entire Motion Performance and the Baldwin-Motion Phase III Supercar experience than you do from Marty.
Schorr sets the tone of the book with a comprehensive look back at specialty car builders from the early years, right up to the early ‘60s when Rosen opened his Neclan Service Station, in Brooklyn, New York. You get the grand tour of all of Rosen’s racing efforts with Corvettes, his famous “King Cobra” 427 Cobra, the Motion Performance ‘68 and ‘70 Modified Production Camaros, and the Motion Minicar “Thunderbug.” Marty explains how they created and pitched local Baldwin-Chevrolet with an outrageous proposal to make Chevy supercars with a full factory warrantee. Honestly, I don’t think the owners of Baldwin Chevrolet really knew what they were in for.
Part of the M-P mystique is the variety of the cars. Each vehicle was built to the customers specifications and Rosen was the customer’s tour guide into the world of supercar performance. He knew exactly what combination of performance parts were needed to create a reliable high-performance car. Consequently, every car is different and, every car has a story. You’ll read all about the export cars, the Phase III Corvette that burned to the ground, the beat up Phase III Corvette movie car, the Phase III Corvette found in a salvage yard, and on and on. And not all Motion cars were Chevys. Rosen worked his magic on Olds cars, Pontiacs, AMC, and even lowly VWs. You will be treated to one amazing car story after another.
This book delivers! It’s all there Phase III fans – the prototypes, the drag cars, Astoria-Chas, the King Cobra, the Phase III Camaros, Chevelles, Novas, the 427 Biscaynes, Vegas, Corvettes, Phase III GT Corvettes, Motion Mini Cars, fast 454-powered speed boats, the cafe racer Spyder Corvettes, and Maco Sharks.
The last chapter brings the story full circle with the ‘05 Baldwin-Motion 540 Supercoupe and the Baldwin-Motion Phase III Gen 5 Camaros. Not only is this a great read, the pictures are a delight. Vintage black & white photos and full-color photos abound. You’ll want to look at the book many times after you are finished reading it. For Corvette and Chevy muscle car performance fans, this is a MUST HAVE for your car book collection. Nuff said! - KST
“Motion Performance – Tales of A Muscle Car Builder” by Martyn L. Schorr is available through Motorbooks International, Amazon, and all fine book sellers. You can check out the latest offerings from Motion Performance by visiting them at, www.OfficialBaldwinMotion.com/
This article was written by K. Scott Teeters, an editor for Alex Schult of www.SmokinVette.com and a freelance columnist and artist with VETTE Magazine. His monthly column, “The Illustrated Corvette Series” has been running consecutively in VETTE since 1997 and can be found on the very last page of every issue. You can find reproductions of his Corvette art at: www.IllustratedCorvetteSeries.com