Back in the automotive glory days of the Sixties and early Seventies, Muscle cars were available in a head-spinning array of different shapes and sizes. There were small blocks and big blocks, intermediates and pony cars, strippers and fully opted rides — all with a unique combination for making fun and fast tracks. However by 1967, another combination began to appear on the scene that somehow left the term “muscle car” somewhat lacking. The new genre found smaller enthusiast companies taking the best that domestic manufacturers had to offer and enhancing them to an even higher level. In short, the Supercar was born.
The recipe for the Supercar was pretty simple. Combine a Muscle car chassis with a high-performance full-size engine, perhaps even modified — and voila, you had something that would knock the socks off anything else on Main Street USA. Recall that prior to this point, the Big Three weren’t putting their biggest engines in mid-size cars due to either corporate policy or beancounter analysis. This left the door wide open to the likes of Shelby, Yenko, Mr. Norm and others — including Baldwin-Motion. Of course the teaming of Chevrolet dealer Baldwin Auto Company with Motion Performance, Joel Rosen’s nearby speed shop in Baldwin, New York, resulted in some of the best Supercars to ever roam the streets. Not only were Baldwin-Motion cars extremely fast, but they were visually some of the most outrageous and flamboyant of the era.
In the spirit of the awesome machines of the day, Rosen and several close associates reintroduced the Baldwin-Motion name a few years back and have been busy building modern Supercars ever since. This ’69 Camaro represents the vintage side of the current business, but the company is also building brand-new Camaros with modified drivetrains — just as in years past. This particular car was the first of a run of 12 Baldwin-Motion ’69 Camaros built during the mid-2000s and is by far the most extreme of them all. According to Martyn Schorr, editor of Hi-Performance CARS magazine in the late Sixties and author of “Motion Performance: Tales of a Muscle Car Builder,” “No one before or after has built a ’69 Camaro like this one.” That’s a big statement considering the background of Baldwin-Motion cars, but one that becomes obvious after reviewing the details.
The official title given this ’69 is “Baldwin-Motion Camaro SuperCoupe.” As if you couldn’t tell, it’s a completely custom built automobile in the best tradition and winner of the 2005 SEMA “GM Design Award.” The overall aesthetics were penned by noted stylist Kris Horton and then executed by Phil Somers and the crew at Time Machines Inc., in Hudson, Fla. The highly modified body sits on a rigid custom backbone style tubular chassis, allowing for a radical 13” engine setback, DANA 44-based adjustable independent rear suspension and super-low stature.
The interior is completely handcrafted, including the integrated dash and console, and features a unique two-seat configuration. Said buckets are 6-way leather-wrapped power units with Simpson harnesses, and complement the other high-end components such as air conditioning, power windows and locks, Motion/Classic Instruments gauges and a booming Sony Xplod sound system. Imagine that anyone could tire of the sweet sounds coming from under the hood.
In the greatest of Baldwin-Motion traditions, the engine is nothing short of spectacular. Bill Mitchell built the all-aluminum big block Chevrolet based on World Products’ bulletproof Merlin block and cylinder heads. Displacing 540 cubic inches, it features the best of the best — Eagle forged steel crank, Mahle pistons, Comp Cams solid roller camshaft, and has been dyno tuned to over 700 horsepower. A Kinsler Cross-Ram sequential fuel injection setup was custom built for this particular application, featuring 44-lb. injectors, Accel Gen-7 DFI and looks that kill. Of course, being it’s a road car dictated a combination that blends drivability with overall horsepower and torque, so consider the Steve Keech custom tune nicely done.
Making the final link to the street are five-spoke Bonspeed forged wheels — their generous 18 and 20” diameters providing space for Baer’s 14”/six-piston 4-wheel disc brakes. Flared rear fenders incorporate functional brake cooling scoops — where original ‘69s had just chrome ornamentation — the kind of creative retro theme found throughout this one-of-a-kind showstopper. To be sure, the blending of legendary bloodlines with a modern custom build isn’t a totally new concept, but the Baldwin-Motion Camaro SuperCoupe sets a new high-water mark for how it can — and should — be done.
— By Eric English