While high-performance car culture on the East Coast was largely ignored by the enthusiast press during the 1950s and early ‘60s, all that changed when Motion Performance was formed in 1964. There were several GM Automotive lines that did factory authorized builds w/full warranties such as Yenko Chevrolet & by Dick Harrell Chevrolet both sporting large output 427 motors thru 1969. Motion was 1st located in Brooklyn, followed by a move to Long Island beside Baldwin Chevrolet in 1966, Motion Performance was quickly the place to go for the quickest street and race cars available anywhere. By 1967, new cars sold through Motion’s partnership with Baldwin Chevrolet delivered guaranteed mid-11-second quarter-mile performance while retaining the full factory warranty coverage. The good times rolled until 1973, when both the U.S. Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency threatened to levy massive fines on each item removed on each car Motion Performance sold, ending one of the most amazing chapters in high-performance automotive history.
As a 12 year old child I lived in Rockville Centre on Long Island. It was the Town next to us, Baldwin, where Motion Performance was located on Sunrise Hwy. I used to ride my new blue Schwinn Varsity 10 speed over to Joel Rosen’s facility to stare at all the cars in progress. I remember seeing a 1967 Corvette Coupe w/all the tricks added including large flairs & hood scoop & 3 taillights on each side…I was amazed at how beautiful she looked. Having always liked the Phase III GT Corvettes (as they had open headlights ala Ferrari), I always liked the look of the Gen 2 Camaros Baldwin Motion was building as they were quite stock yet looked like they were on steroids !
I am honored to have acquired this wonderful example of Joel’s best work…the last of the dozen or so Phase III Camaros completed by Motion Performance. I recently had a sit-down w/Joel at his home in Coral Springs, 20 minutes from me. After the fall of the Muscle Car market, by 1971, the US EPA was going to charge $10,000. per pollution control item to be removed, a $50,000. bill per car if Motion Performance continued producing cars, made it impossible to continue building cars for the general public. This basically shut down Motions connection w/Baldwin Chevy, disallowing any further partnership making factory authorized cars w/any GM backed GM.
This all-out 1973 Chevrolet Camaro is documented by Motion Performance co-founder Joel Rosen and also believed to be the last Baldwin-Motion Phase III equipped Camaro completed in-house and later sold. The Story states that it was originally built up & owned by Rosen’s best mechanic, Dominick LoPinto, who converted this Camaro into a full blown Phase III for his personal consumption at Motion Performance w/Mr. Motion’s blessings. The fact is that Joel Rosen was under major scrutiny by the Government & the EPA to stop building cars & as he removed smog equipment it would cost him huge fines. So he got creative & sold his last few Motion builds simply as “Used Cars” then it was put up for sale on Motion Performance’s front lot w/only Delivery & Test miles.
Along came its 2nd owner, Ray Ongaro, a trucker driving by w/a passion for Drag Racing & noticed the car, as he returned several weeks later to make a deal for $8,000. & took his new prize home. He then painted the car green & started attending many race events in the New York/New Jersey area over the next 10 years. After tweaking his new Camaro he was able to make 9.8 sec. 1/4 mile passes & actually won the “National Super Pro” title at Bristol Dragway in 1980. He finally sold the Camaro in 1983 to its 3rd owner, an unknown caretaker (as of this writing), as his 16 year old son wanted it for his High School driver LOL. After 10 years of being sold…his Son actually bought it back from its 3rd owner & the 2 of them, Father & Son, restored it nicely. The Ongaro’s kept it at that time for around another 10 years (20 years total of ownership). It was then passed on to essentially its 5th owner, Eugene Struthers of Tarpon Springs, Florida. At that time a car spotter friend, Scott, of its next owner Dave Belks from Davenport, Iowa, saw it for sale on the cover of an Auto Trader Mag around 2005. Mr. Belks became the next proud caretaker for the next 3 years & did a concours restoration putting her back to her exact original Baldwin Motion livery. He proudly displayed it at the Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals & got it in a feature article in “Super Chevy” magazine in June 2006 (included) when they were honoring the Baldwin Motion name. It was then sold to the Todd Werner Collection, famous for its fabulous Sox & Martin & Dick Landy Mopar race cars where it stayed until our recent acquisition from Todd’s Collection. Its restoration caliber is simply incredible having perfect paintwork w/a very detailed engine compartment yet still only showing a mere 19K original miles from new.
Featuring this unusual original ’73 color of Light Copper Metallic (#60) exterior base/clear coat paint with bold White Motion Performance stripes over a businesslike black interior, this wild Motion Performance Phase III Camaro features a really hot 454 LS-6 Chevy motor w/475 HP underneath its aggressive L88-style hood, backed by a TurboHydro manual shift automatic transmission w/4.10 gears set up for the 1/4 mile track. In addition to sporty bucket seats, the Camaro is equipped with a floor console with a wild race proven quick shifter, a basic AM radio, dual sideview mirrors and a complete Motion-installed racing roll bar. Casting a menacing presence with period-style American Racing wheels sporting a set of Mickey Thompson S/S Indy 70 Profile tires, this all-out 1973 Motion Performance Phase III Camaro marks the end of a legendary era.
The Collector Muscle Car market is full of clones, tributes & resto mods copying so many of these rare cars made during the late 50’s thru the 60’s. As this Camaro does not have the name recognition from the original batch of cars ordered new at “Baldwin Chevrolet”, it is an actual all original Phase III Camaro made & produced completely in-house at Motion Performance w/every go-fast item Joel Rosen had up his sleeve. Included w/this iconic Camaro’s paperwork are a few notarized letters from most all of its actual owners over the years as well as Joel Rosen’s blessing to its authenticity & provenance. Why drive a Resto-Mod when you can have the real deal for the same money…