CorvetteReport.com Exclusive Interview: A Chat With Joel “Mr. Motion” Rosen
For real, authorized Baldwin Motion Supercars are BACK! We go bench racing with the original “Mr. Motion.”
Note: Joel Rosen is the proud owner of the very first of the NEW Baldwin Motion Camaros. Be sure to check out the slide show of Mr. Motion’s new ride!)
Little did Joel Rosen know in 1960 when he bought Neclan Service Station in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, that over 50 years later, people would be writing about him and going to car shows featuring his creations. Motion Performance was officially born in 1963 and Rosen had a string of successful drag cars of his own, plus many cars that he super tuned. He relocated the shop from Brooklyn to the community of Baldwin on Long Island, on Sunrise Highway in 1966. The following year, Chevrolet unleashed their answer to Ford’s red hot Mustang – the Camaro.
Rosen pitched to Baldwin Chevrolet’s Ed Simonin a new way for buyers to get a brand new, turn key “super” muscle car, with a proven, reliable setup – ready to rock! By 1968 the full “Fantastic Five” lineup of cars was established, featuring Phase III SS-427 versions of the Chevy Biscayne, Nova, Chevelle, Camaro, and Corvette. For just $3,495 you could buy the ultimate street sleeper, the SS-427 Biscayne. Or, if your POCKETS were really deep, for $6,995.85 (an enormous amount of cash beck then) you could get the Phase III SS-427 Corvette. Each car was custom made to order, so every car was slightly different. What’a heady time to be into the high performance street scene.
As “they” say, the rest is history, and since you wouldn’t be here if you already weren’t familiar with the Baldwin Motion story, we don’t need to retell the entire story. Mr. Motion is now semi-retired and living the good life in warm, sunny Florida. With the Baldwin Motion brand back in action and in very good hands, thanks to his relationship with Howard Tanner, Redline Motorsports in Schenectady, and DeNooyer Chevrolet, Albany, New York.
I thought the Baldwin Motion fans would enjoy hearing from the original Mr. Motion, Joel Rosen. So, one evening in early July 2011, Joel and I had an interesting conversation. Here goes…
Scott – How did the new Baldwin Motion deal come about?
Joel – Well, it was a little bit of a bumpy start, but we turned it into a very positive deal. DeNooyer Chevrolet and Howard Tanner had been marketing Howard’s “HTR” Camaros and Corvettes for a while. It was kind of like what I was doing with Baldwin Chevrolet back in the day. DeNooyer and Tanner were building new Chevy supercars, ala the Phase III cars. A friend of ours contacted us letting us know that these guys in upstate New York that were using modified versions one of Marty Schorr’s old Baldwin Motion ads – WANTED! – in their advertising.
I didn’t know who they were but when I learned what they were doing, we worked out a deal for DeNooyer and Tanner to work with me and build and market Baldwin-Motion Gen V 427 & 454 Camaros. They even painted up the front showroom windows the same way we did at the Baldwin Chevrolet dealership. Just like that famous photo with “Fantastic Five” on the windows. It was pretty cool. And part of the deal was that I would be able to order Phase III 427-SC Camaro #01.
I did a lot of research on Howard and DeNooyer and must say that they have my full respect. Howard can do anything with modern performance cars, knows the electronics such that he can build the engines to specific horsepower levels, then adjust the electronics to get the car‘s emissions right. We couldn’t do any of that back in our day. They didn’t even have computers controlling fuel and spark. We were just told that we couldn’t remove ANY emissions devices. A lot’s changed.
Joel – Not yet, but we will be going there soon. We are very impressed with their skills and reputation. That was very important to us. After all, we were granting the use of the Motion and Baldwin-Motion brands and needed to be certain the cars would be right.
Scott – I see that the 427-SC Camaros are “limited production.” How many are they anticipating to build?
Joel – We’re anticipating a dozen of the Camaros.
Scott – Has your 427 SC Camaro been on the quarter-mile? If so, what was the car’s best ET?
Joel – Oh, I just got it a few weeks ago. I don’t know, I might take it to the track someday. At my age, I’m really not looking for low et and top speed experiences. I guess you could say I’ve had my share.
Scott – Your original Phase III SS-427 Chevies had 500-plus horsepower, how does your new car feel, compared to the cars you used to build?
Joel – The biggest thing I’ve noticed so far is a lot more torque earlier in the rpm range. When I was building cars, no one was supercharging.
Scott – Your cars were closer to Super Stock and Modified production race cars.
Joel – Right. Supercharging is definitely the way to go today. The new Kenne-Bell, Magnacharger & Edelbrock systems really deliver with these new engines. Towards the end of the Motion days, we build two blower cars. One was an ‘83 Camaro and the other was a ‘87 Aero Coupe Monte Carlo, you know, that NASCAR bubble back version. Both cars had lots of boost AND nitrous.
Scott – Have any more new 427 SC Camaros been ordered?
Joel – Yes, they just finished a yellow Phase III 427 convertible and the #002 427-SC Supercar is almost done. Like my cars, each one is custom, so we’re looking forward to seeing them.
Scott – Many of the modern supercharged cars can be setup to be rather tame so long as the driver doesn’t seriously get into it. I’m working on a story for VETTE about a local guy with a 765-HP supercharged ‘06 Corvette roadster that’s his daily driver. His other car is his wife’s Honda Accord. How comfortable is your new Camaro as a daily driver?
Joel – I haven’t put that many miles on yet, but it’s a blast to drive. It’s very streetable – fires right up and sounds like lots of power! If you get into it, it’s a real handful! And the color is just amazing. The pictures just don’t do it justice. When people see the pictures or hear that it’s “green,” they say, “Green?” But in the full sun, with the gold stripes, people stop and compliment the car. You just have to see it in person. The car has every option available on a Camaro, so it’s really loaded and a very nice car.
Scott – Any idea what your new car’s tops speed is?
Joel – (chuckles) No, and I probably never will. We made a few 100-mph passes at Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR) after the Super Chevy Show where we officially introduced it. It’s got 3.70 gears, so it’s plenty quick. Good 0-to-60 sprints are enough for me. (laughs).
Scott – How comfortable is the new Camaro as a GT car?
Joel – The buckets are snug, supportive, and conformable. It’s got every interior option from Chevrolet, plus they had my name embroidered on the headrests and there’s Phase III trim, too.
Joel – Ah, with 800-horsepower, it’s fair. I’d say about on par with the mid-year Vettes with factory side pipes.
Scott – Have you driven the new car enough to get a sense of the fuel mileage? A stock C5 with an LS1 engine can get in the low 30-mpg range if driven carefully.
Joel – We’ll see, but so far we haven’t taken it on any trips. But we will be. Anything will be better than what we used to get in the ‘60s and ‘70s with those old big-blocks. If you got 12-mpg, that was pretty good. That’s why I was big on the Hone Overdrive setups because it helped reduce the engine’s rpms for highway driving. It helped the car be little quieter and improved gas mileage somewhat. But the new engines are just so much more efficient, they make more power, and deliver much better mileage. They’re great!
Scott – The new Camaro passes all emissions tests, right?
Joel – Oh yes, it’s totally legal, except in California. It’s all in the computers. Back in the day, the government just told us to STOP building cars because there was no way to certify a modified engine. Not so today.
Scott – Would you like to be building modern supercars?
Joel – I was in the business for a very long time. I still love the cars, but I also like what I’m doing now with our Motion Models mail-order business.
Scott – Do you know if there’s a new Motion Phase III Corvette in the works?
Joel – Yes, Howard, DeNooyer and I have talked about doing Phase III Corvettes. Both Howard and I love Corvettes and we’re brainstorming about very fast, very beautiful Phase III Corvettes. Stay tuned! (Let me assure you, readers, as soon as there’s news on the C6 Phase III Corvettes, it’ll be HERE!)
Scott – How did Motion Models start?
Joel – I got into the model business because I always liked models. I had models all over the house, so we decided to start selling the kinds of models I like. The models we offer are mostly military planes, ships, tanks, armored vehicles and even some jet skis. They’re all hand crafted from precise plan drawings and accurately painted and decorated. We have sold models to four former presidents, a few secretaries of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff, Ross Perot, and a lot of other high-ranking military. We even have models in the US Naval Museum and the Smithsonian. And former GM Vice-Chairman and all-around car guy, Bob Lutz, has several of our jets. One model is of his personal L-39 and the other his Alpha Jet. Plus, he has a model of a blue Phase III Corvette. He’s a big fan. You can tell that we’re very proud of our models.
Scott – Joel, we could talk for hours, but I see that we’ve covered all of my questions.
Joel – Oh, I thought we were just talking. The whole Motion thing was really a surprise. I’m just a mechanic from Brooklyn. It’s really gratifying when we go to shows like the Motion Reunion at the MCACN Show in Chicago in November ‘10. There were so many fans of the cars and radio show interviews to do. Marty talked so much he lost his voice!
Scott – That’s called “bench racing.” We’ll have to do it again. Thanks Joel.
Joel – Sure thing Scott, thanks.
PS – For more info about the NEW Baldwin Motion Fantastic Five Supercars and the other supercars from Redline Motorsports, , CLICK HERE, or click the below image.
Rosen’s company, Motion Models, offers beautifully detailed military and commercial scale model jets, planes, helicopters from the pre-WW II, WW II, and modern era. To check out their staggering selection of top quality models, CLICK HERE, or click the above image.
We have covered numerous Baldwin Motion Corvettes here at CorveteReport.com. To access all of our posts, look for the “Search” tool at the top of this page and type in “Baldwin Motion.” Also, if Motion Performance cars get your motor running, you’ll like our BaldwinMotionReport.com site! To visit, CLICK HERE, or click the below graphic.
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