An intimate conversation with Marty Schorr – Baldwin Motion, VETTE Quarterly, and other adventures…
(Our conversation picks up with an enterprise that’s still being talked about! You can catch Pt. 1 of this interview, HERE.)
ST – That’s a great segue Marty, let’s talk about the Baldwin-Motion experience.
MS – Baldwin Chevrolet was an old, local, mom & pop Chevy dealership. Joel was friends with John Mahler, the parts manager, and it all started out as a sponsorship with a strippo, red, big-block Camaro that they dropped an L-88 427 into and went drag racing. It was an advertising / promotion thing. The car ran great and we put our heads together and pitched a program to the Baldwin Chevrolet owners for a full line of supercars called, “The Fantastic Five” that included a Camaro, Chevelle, Nova, Impala, and of course, a Corvette.
We would start off with the biggest optioned engine and heavy-duty suspension and drive train, then we would drop in a 427 with a lot of hot rod parts. Because we were starting off with the toughest stuff available from the factory, the cars were amazingly durable, and still under warranty. We added aftermarket wheels, custom stripes, and badges that created a complete brand. The cars put Baldwin Chevrolet on the map and everyone made money. I did all the branding, catalogs, and ads, we had a shop do the custom stripping, and Joel did the conversions and final tests. Every car was guaranteed to run 12.5 in the quarter-mile with a professional driver. For a time we were the biggest specialty car maker under Shelby. When we got into the V-8 Vegas, Baldwin Chevrolet really didn’t want to have them branded as “Baldwin-Motion” cars because they were front heavy and didn’t handle very well. So if you ever see any of the Vega cars we did, you notice that they are “Motion Performance” car and not “Baldwin-Motion” cars.
ST – I was a teenager when you were splashing those incredible Baldwin-Motion and muscle car road tests in CARS. You assembled a group of writers that made the magazine something to look forward to every month. How did that all come together?
MS – When it comes out right, you’re a hero, otherwise, you’re a bum. The perception was that East Coast magazines only sold to East Coast guys. Remember that back then, because Hot Rod and Car Craft owned the newsstands, it looked like nothing was happening on the East Coast. The image was that the West Coast shops were these giant sophisticated shops – palaces – at least, that’s the way they looked in print. The first time I went to the West Coast I was shocked to see the Bill Thomas’ shop was just a little place. Dana Chevrolet only did their high-performance cars for about 1-1/2 years. Baldwin-Motion made cars for six years. The East Coast places like TASCA, SRD, Stahl, Baldwin-Motion, and Grumpy hardly got any attention at all. (Grumpy became one of drag racing’s rock stars after Pro Stock exploded in ‘70 – ST) And the editors of the West Coast books were all treated like heroes and you had to get an appointment just to talk to them. We had a lot to work with on the East.
Joe Oldham was a street racer kid that used to deliver flowers in my neighborhood and then one day he came into the CARS office to sell a Pontiac-go-fast article. It turned out that Joe used to deliver flowers in my neighborhood and knew my red Bonneville Coupe with the eight-lug wheels. Joe is now the editor of Popular Mechanics and for a long time was my road test driver and a columnist.
Roger Huntington was an engineer that used to write tech features for us. Not many readers knew that Roger had been wheelchair-bound all his life, but he wrote good tech features.
One of our early guys, Fred Mackerodt, started with CARS in ‘64 and today he’s a PR guy with a GM account. Fred was a very good editor even though he never graduated from high school. He was a good humorist writer to and used to do stories under the pen name of “Dilbert Farb.” (His trash truck road test had me in stitches when I was a kid. – ST) Cliff Gromer was another one of our regular guys, along with Alan Root, Alex Walordy, Stewart Yale, Fred Cohen, Joel Rosen, and others. Continue reading “Interview With VETTE Magazine Founder & First Editor, Martyn L. Schorr – Pt. 2”