Joel Rosen and Marty Schorr kept us Corvette and Chevy Supercar fans TOTALLY STOKED back in the day!
I was just in junior high school in October 1967 when the new, C3 Mako Shark-inspired Corvette made its splash on the car scene. It looked like a sports car from another planet! Although it was different from the Mako Shark-II show car, it was still futuristic and very cool.
Sometime in the spring of 1968, I was hunting for my favorite car magazine at my local drug store newspaper and magazine stand. Then I saw the latest issue of Hi-Performance CARS magazine. CARS was an East Coast, New York-based monthly newsstand car magazine that was unlike the bright, glossy mags of the West Coast Hot Rod, Popular Hot Rodding, and Car Craft magazine. All great publications, but CARS came out of New York City and had a wonderful, New York, “In-Your-Face” style.
On the cover was a bright yellow 427 Corvette, branded, “Baldwin-Motion SS-427 Phase III Corvette”! On top of the standard ’68 big-block hood bulge was a grafted-on ’67 Stinger 427 scoop that totally looked like it belonged there. On the sides of the Stinger hood were badges that read, “SS-427”. WOW! Right in front of the driver-side of the hood was a hood-mounted tachometer, the same as the units installed on some GTOs. Very cool. The deep-dish chrome Crager mages were shod with the widest tires of the day; L60x15 meats. Side pipes had been optional on Corvettes since 1965 but were not available in 1968. Instead, this brute of a Corvette wore ”65-’67 side pipes along its rocker panels.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Even though I was only thirteen, I knew this was the ultimate Corvette.
What I was looking at was the inventive handiwork of Motion Performance owner, Joel Rosen and CARS magazine editor and chief, Marty Schorr. Joel and Marty’s relationship was that when Marty acquired muscle cars from the manufacturers, Joel would supertune the cars to perform better for the CARS road test stories. Made sense.
But it was the 1967 SS-396 Camaro that launched the entire Baldwin-Motion experience. Motion Performance was located on Long Island, New York, just up the road from Rosen’s Motion Performance Speed Shop and race car shop. Joel and Marty came up with an idea to keep Joel’s shop running and at the same time provide super cool, ultra-performance big-block Chevy supercars.
Here was the plan. Customers would order a new SS-396 Camaro, and then choose the options and color they wanted. When the car was delivered to Baldwin Chevrolet, the car was then driven to Rosen’s shop for transformation. The 396 engine was swapped out for a 427/425 Corvette big-block, along with tricks Rosen learned racing in A/Modified Production. Rosen and Grumpy Jenkins swapped the NHRA A/Modified Production back and forth in the late ’60s. Rosen knew how to build a drag car and dial it back a little to make it street-able.
When the car was complete, it was still under the car’s Chevrolet warranty because it was a new car. The 427 was a bolt-in swap. Rosen would custom-make each car according to what the customer’s plans were. The black ’67 SS-427 Phase-III Camaro was featured in CARS magazine road tests and advertisements. The Camaro had slotted aluminum wheels, fat tires, ’67 Corvette side pipes, and a Stinger hood. It was just “BOSS!”
The response was good enough that Rosen and Schorr decided to expand the “Phase III” branding to Chevelles, Novas, Biscaynes, and even Corvettes. Rosen loved Corvettes ever since he bought a new ’63 Fuelie Coupe that he hill climbed. He felt that the Corvette had all the underpinning for a great GT – Grand Touring performance car. It had a strong frame and chassis, a powerful big-block 427 engine, four-wheel disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension, and astonishing good looks. Joel decided to take the new Shark Corvette to another level.
Joel Rosen spun the wrenches and Marty Schorr spun the spin by keeping us loyal and faithful Chevy and Corvette fans stoked with regular articles, road tests, and “In-Your-Face” ads. It was just so much fun!
As Corvettes was Rosen’s passion, he constantly pushed the envelope for his specialty Corvettes. So, we want to share with you Joel Rosen and Marty Schorr’s Corvettes. Many of the cars had extensive, custom bodywork, so they were very expensive for their time. One Motion Corvette went out the door for nearly $15,000, (around $130,000 in 2023 dollars!) a HUGE amount of cash back then. A new ’68 Corvette with options could cost $5,000!
Some of the custom body designs worked better than others, but they’re all great time capsule examples of a unique time. Every Motion car was guaranteed to run 11.5 seconds in the 1/4-mile, with a qualified driver. Stock 427 Corvettes typically ran in the low 14s to high 13s. An 11.5 street machine was astonishing back then.
Rosen and Schorr’s enterprise came to a halt in 1974 when the Department of Transportation went after them for illegally modifying cars. The Fed wanted them shut down and succeeded. Rosen continued to build race cars and modify customer cars, but no more new cars from Chevrolet.
Years later, the public caught up to the uniqueness of the Baldwin-Motion cars and for decades Rosen had a cottage industry of verifying Motion cars, as he kept all of the build records and VIN Numbers of all the cars he built.
To get the absolute history of Joel Rosen and Marty Schorr’s Baldwin Motion Supercars story, you MUST read Marty’s book, “MOTION PERFORMANCE: Tales of a Muscle Car Builder”. Marty’s prose is exactly what it was like reading CARS Magazine back in the day. You’ll feel as if Marty is right there, telling you the story. And the book is loaded with great photos, many by Schorr himself.
All this happened a very long time ago and on October 9, 2023, Joel Rosen succumbed to bladder cancer. His long-time friend and business partner Marty Schorr wrote a beautiful tribute to Joel that you can read HERE. – Scott
PS – Here are a few more images of Rosen’s Corvettes…