Except for Joel Rosen's personal Demo cars that were sold periodically, all Baldwin-Motion vehicles were custom built to order and powered by big-block engines displacing up to 482 cubic inches, with horsepower to over 500. A small number of modified, dual-four-barrel Z/30 small-block ‘Green Meanie' Camaros were built for sports car enthusiasts. Unlike some Chevrolet dealers marketing specialty cars at the time, Baldwin-Motion never re-badged a single factory COPO 427 Camaro or Chevelle.
Unique Baldwin-Motion catalogs were produced in 1968 and 1969 by Marty Schorr and today are rare, highly priced collectibles. During the early-to-mid-1970s, ordering information on Baldwin-Motion cars was included in the large Motion Performance mail order catalogs.
Prior to the launch of Baldwin-Motion specialty cars in mid-1967, Joel Rosen and Jack Geiselman set numerous track, regional and national drag racing records with Motion Performance 289 and 427 Shelby Cobras. The highest-profile Motion-built Cobra is the 427 KING COBRA that brought $525,000 at the 2005 Russo & Steele Auction in Scottsdale, AZ. It is now owned by muscle car and Cobra collector, Len Perham.
Baldwin-Motion drag racing Camaros from 1967 through 1972, first driven by Joel Rosen, then Bill Mitchell and Dennis Ferrara, were consistent AHRA and NHRA Modified Production national record holders. Bill Mitchell, who built and drove the Motion Supercar Club big-block Camaro, often traded the NHRA A/MP crown with Bill 'Grumpy' Jenkins. He continued his winning ways into the mid-1970s with the legendary Motion Minicar NHRA H/Gas record-holding Thunderbug. Mitchell is best known for his Merlin performance engines. Motion Minicar was jointly owned by Bill Mitchell, Joel Rosen and Marty Schorr. During the late-1960s and early-1970s, Motion was well represented on the NHRA circuit. Motion-equipped/sponsored Camaros raced by **** Arons, Mike Fons and Ralph Ridgeway were consistent record-holders. Bo Laws' unbeatable drag racing Corvettes were also Motion-equipped.
After Baldwin Chevrolet and its successors, Williams Chevrolet and Lyons Chevrolet, closed their doors in 1974, Joel Rosen sourced his new Chevrolets from other dealers as well as customers. Compact Chevrolet Vegas were later added to the Motion portfolio and Motion Super Vegas could be ordered with naturally aspirated as well as turbocharged small and big-block V-8s (350 to 454 cubic inches).
It was an article about the 454 Motion Super Vega in Car Craft, ‘King Kong Lives On Long Island,' that set off alarms at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1974 and forever changed the nature of Joel Rosen's business. Joel Rosen was presented with a Cease and Desist order from the EPA (to halt the building of new cars with powertrains not available from the factory), executed by the Department of Justice. The bottom-line: If Motion did not cease production of its specialty vehicles, it would be fined $10,000 per emission device removed in the build process. This translated to $50,000 in fines for each V-8 Vega!
Rosen settled with Uncle Sam in 1975, paying a $500 fine and agreeing to the terms outlined in the EPA and DOJ documents. While this put a major crimp in business, Motion did continue building and marketing ultra-high-performance specialty Chevrolets. However, all vehicles were special-ordered (and invoiced) 'For Export' or 'For Off Road Use Only.'
Except for a short run of super-trick Motion IROC Camaros and Monte Carlos in the 1980s, and specialty work on 5.0 Mustangs and Buick Grand Nationals, Joel Rosen has kept a very low profile in the industry. Since 1995, Rosen has been running Motion Models (www.motionmodels.com), specializing in custom, highly detailed museum-quality military, commercial and personal aircraft and boat models. He is also a consultant to Racing Champions/Ertl and other companies that have produced thousands of models of Baldwin-Motion cars for collectors and hobbyists.