July 20, 2024

Wade Through Films

The Ultimate Driving Machines

FORWARD MOTION: This Unrestored 1968 Baldwin-Motion 427 Camaro RS/SS Represents a Snapshot in Time

FORWARD MOTION: This Unrestored 1968 Baldwin-Motion 427 Camaro RS/SS Represents a Snapshot in Time

FORWARD MOTION: This Unrestored 1968 Baldwin-Motion 427 Camaro RS/SS Represents a Snapshot in Time

By independent automotive journalist Steve Statham

2023 SCOTTSDALE AUCTION – 1968 CHEVROLET CAMARO RS/SS BALDWIN MOTION – NO RESERVE

In the 1960s an entire army of small manufacturers, dealers and tuners viewed factory muscle cars as mere raw material for the supercars they envisioned. You’ve heard the names — Yenko, Nickey, Shelby, Royal, Mr. Norm and others. In the northeast, Baldwin-Motion built the cars to beat for drag racers in the market for the fastest possible Chevrolet.

The New York-based Baldwin-Motion was a partnership between a speed shop and a Chevrolet dealership. In 1958 Joel Rosen opened his Motion Performance speed shop in a service station in Brooklyn, later moving to Long Island. He teamed up with nearby Baldwin Chevrolet in 1967 with a program to build Baldwin-Motion SS-427 Camaros centered around swapping the factory 396ci engine, the largest available in a Camaro, for the powerful 427/425hp V8 that was optional in the Corvette. Besides the added power, Baldwin-Motion addressed the Camaro’s penchant for wheel hop with its “Super-Bite” suspension package with traction bars. There were numerous speed parts options available as well, and the cars were even covered under warranty.

In 1968, Baldwin-Motion expanded the program to what it called the “Fantastic Five”: 427-powered editions of the Camaro, Chevelle, Chevy II, Corvette and Biscayne. In car magazine advertisements of the day, Baldwin-Motion guaranteed its dyno-tuned Phase III SS-427 Camaro would run 11-second quarter-mile times. The cars were certainly track-ready, but Joel Rosen knew the heart of their market was the late-night street racer. “Our market was street cars, but, if you will, ultimate street cars, because you could get whatever you wanted,” Rosen told this writer in an interview for a muscle car book project.

The unrestored black 1968 Baldwin-Motion Camaro RS/SS shown here, offered with No Reserve at the 2023 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction, has all that speed shop hardware on full display. It is a remarkably well-preserved example of the kind of super-tuned muscle car that dominated both clandestine drag races and the dreams of young magazine-reading gearheads across the country.

The car maintains its original 427/425hp V8 installed by Motion Performance, and still has the original GM intake with Motion Performance 3-barrel carburetor modification and an original 3-barrel Holley carburetor, fed by a trunk-mounted electric fuel pump and topped by a Motion-installed “Fly Eye” air cleaner.

Its M21 close-ratio 4-speed manual transmission with a GM matching VIN stamp is teamed with a Motion-installed early-style Lakewood bellhousing with a two-piece inspection cover and a Motion-installed original aluminum Schaefer flywheel. Underneath, the original traction bars made by LAB Machine are attached to the original GM 4.56 posi-traction-coded rear end with stick-welded tubes by Motion Performance.

The documentation is thorough on this special Camaro. A letter from the National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS) confirms its GM official production date as November 22, 1967, and the original dealer as Baldwin Chevrolet. The car’s original cowl tag confirms it was a factory black/black build. The engine has its original broach marks and a machine code of T1117ID indicating a November 17 assembly as 425hp; cast K77 indicating a November 7, 1967, casting pour with 840 square port heads; and cast K27 indicating a November 2, 1967, casting pour. The car has its original body panels and paint with some touch-ups, and the original interior features a Motion-installed Sun tachometer and the original Hurst shifter.

So many Baldwin-Motion muscle cars were cut up and thrashed at the racetrack or parted out after a brief career of street racing that encountering a genuine unrestored example with its original 427/425hp GM engine and speed parts installed by Motion Performance is a true find. This Camaro’s next performance won’t be a street race on a pre-dawn New York boulevard, but rather under the bright lights of Barrett-Jackson’s auction block, where it will enjoy a different type of competition as bidders race to see who will take the car home. Register to bid today.