Joel Rosen at Baldwin Auto...
Joel Rosen at Baldwin Auto in 1968. Left-to-right; Dave Bean, VP of Baldwin Chevy; Joel Rosen; and Ed Simonin, President of Baldwin Chevy.
Editors Note:Marty Schorr, president of PMPR Inc., is the founding editor of VETTE and was an integral part of the Baldwin-Motion specialty car program from 1967-74. He created all the advertising, produced the catalogs and promotional materials, and worked with Rosen developing product concepts and building the brand. He's currently working on a book about Motion's golden years. He can be reached at MLschorr@aol.com
Mention the name Joel Rosen and what usually comes to mind is Mr. Motion, the hands-on hot rodder from Brooklyn, New York, who produced ground-pounding, adrenaline-pumping Baldwin-Motion 427 and 454 Camaros that were supported by then-edgy advertising and promotional materials which captured the hearts of those who believed that there was no such thing as too much power for the street! Built at Motion Performance in Baldwin, New York, (delivered by Baldwin Chevrolet), Rosen's big-block Camaros represented the birth of the independent Chevrolet "tuner" car. Baldwin-Motion Camaros were essentially build-to-order super cars, limited only by a buyers imagination and financial resources.
Joel Rosen with a prototype...
Joel Rosen with a prototype of the Phase III GT built on a leftover '68 427/435 Corvette.
Unlike similar products from Rosen's popular and well-connected Chevrolet dealer competition, Baldwin-Motion 427 Camaros and Chevelles were never re-badged COPO cars. Truth be told, neither Rosen, myself, or the people at Baldwin Chevrolet knew about COPO cars in 1969, and didn't find out about their existence until years later! Mr. Motion "made his bones" the old-fashioned way, by winning on Sunday and selling on Monday. "You can question hype, but you can't argue with time slips," reminisces Rosen. "It wasn't rocket science. We raced what we built. It worked for Ford during its 'Total Performance' years, and it worked for us. We went one step beyond however, guaranteeing in writing that an up-level, totally streetable Phase III 427 Camaro would turn 120 mph in 11.50 seconds or quicker, driven by a Motion-approved driver on an NHRA or AHRA-sanctioned dragstrip. If the car wouldn't deliver, the customer could get his money back. That never happened though."
It would be approximately two years from this point before Rosen changed his shop's name from Neclan Service Station (a then small repair shop) to Motion Performance and redirected his energies from tuning and repairing grocery-getters to making hot cars go quicker and faster. "The name Motion came from a high-performance electronic ignition called 'Motion EI' that I had installed on many Corvettes, including my own, a '58 fuelie. I figured anything would sound better than Neclan Service Station!" With the addition of a Clayton chassis dynamometer, the new specialty of the house became fuel-injected Corvettes and Chevy-engined street machines. Almost overnight business soared thanks to Rosen's knowledge of Vettes and the appeal of a chassis dyno that made it possible to power-tune cars under a controlled load.
It was during this transition that Rosen married. He and his wife, Judith, took off after their wedding in the '58 and headed to Ellenville, New York, for their honeymoon. Ellenville just happened to be the location of a popular high-speed sports car hill climb where Rosen decided to exercise his passion for racing. "Rollbars weren't required, and we decided to go for it. At around 100 mph I flipped the '58 and rolled three times, destroying the car. Somebody must have been watching over me, all I got were bruises and lacerations. We took the bus back to New York. Some honeymoon," said Rosen. Judith concurs!