Joel Rosen launched the Phase III GT Corvette program at the 1969 New York International A
In 1962 Joel replaced the wrecked Vette with a new '62 fuelie which he prepped for competition. Rosen raced the '62, finishing the season in the top standings for local club events. Later, when the all-new '63 Sting Ray was announced, Rosen sold the '62 and put his money down on a 360hp fuelie. As they say, timing is everything. Rosen lucked out, taking delivery of the first fuel-injected split-window coupe. Nicknamed "The Skunk" because of its Daytona Blue paint with an added-on white racing stripe, it too was prepped for competition, raced by both Joel and Judith, and driven daily.
Rosen both drag raced and soloed the Sting Ray, finishing the 1963 SSSC & BDS (South Shore Sports Car & Beer Drinking Society!) gymkhana season with "Overall Champion" honors. It was also a local drag racing champion. Running the long-gone Roosevelt (Long Island) eighth-mile dragstrip, Rosen unseated the reigning champ in 1963, blowing off his much-modified 409/425 Chevy. The street-driven, Motion-tuned, Atlas Bucron-shod fuelie Corvette became the car to beat at Roosevelt in 1963.
In 1966 Rosen relocated to Long Island, opening Motion Performance on Sunrise Highway in Baldwin. Shortly after the move, Chevrolet started hyping the introduction of what was to be Chevy's Mustang fighter, the Camaro. The rest is history.
Typical Motion Corvette big- and small-block engine compartments
Rosen's first nationally-recognized Motion Corvette involvement was the legendary Astoria Chas KO-MOTION Sting Ray. This is the L88-powered '67 convertible that was built for Charlie Snyder from Astoria, New York. After Charlie lost his life in Vietnam, the car was campaigned in his memory to a National Record and then stored for three decades. The car, its history, and the man who unearthed it was the subject of the January 2002 VETTE cover story, "The Awakening."
By 1968, one year into building 427 Camaros, Joel Rosen had spread his tuner magic to all the Chevrolet nameplates, except Corvair. The Baldwin-Motion Phase III GT Corvette (prototyped in 1969), of which approximately 10 were built between mid-1969 and 1971, remains one of the rarest and valuable of the Baldwin-Motion-badged cars.
What most people never realized at the time was that Mr. Motion, the man who turned a simple Camaro engine swap (adding 31 ci and 50 hp) in 1967 into the stuff that legends are made of, was actually a die-hard Corvette enthusiast. Because of the Camaro's low price and mass appeal, it got the nod over the Corvette when he started building Baldwin-Motion specialty cars. While he did offer modified SS-427 and Phase III SS-427 Baldwin-Motion Corvettes as part of the Fantastic Five (1968) and Sensational Six (1969) programs, it was not well into the 1969 model year that Rosen debuted the Phase III GT and established a real link to Corvette enthusiasts.
What started as a personal high-speed touring GT for Rosen, blossomed into a highly-desirable, very-low-production collectible. Unlike the tire-frying Baldwin-Motion big-block Camaros, Chevelles, Novas, etc., the Phase III GT had a truly unique custom appearance and functionality to match its powertrain and chassis upgrades.
Rosen launched his first Corvette marketing effort in conjunction with Chevrolet's introduction of the Mako Shark-influenced '68 Stingray. It was a slow start as he had partnered in 1967 with a local mom-and-pop Chevrolet dealer, Baldwin Chevrolet. It existed primarily by selling econo people-movers and trucks. Principals Dave Bean and Ed Simonin were not really connected at the local Chevrolet Zone level or in Detroit, and their allotment of high-performance models, especially Corvettes, left an awful lot to be desired. They didn't understand the appeal and lure of high-performance cars.