David Newhardt, courtesy of Mecum Auctions
  • Documented Phase III Motion Camaro
  • Original owner was Joel Rosen’s mechanic, who built the car at Motion
  • Believed to be the last Baldwin Motion Camaro built
  • Signed by Joel Rosen
  • 454-ci V8 engine
  • Automatic transmission
  • Motion-installed roll bar
  • Mickey Thompson S/S Indy Profile tires

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1973 Chevrolet Camaro Baldwin Motion Phase III
Years Produced:1970–74 (second-gen Motion Camaros)
Number Produced:Approximately 500 total (all Motion cars)
Original List Price:$8,000
SCM Valuation:$90,200 (this car)
Tune Up Cost:$400
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side of dash, under windshield
Engine Number Location:Pad on front of block ahead of cylinder head
Club Info:1969 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro, 1970 Chevrolet Nickey Camaro, 1970 Chevrolet Baldwin Motion Phase III Corvette

This car, Lot S114, sold for $90,200, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s Harrisburg, PA, sale on August 3, 2019.

Joel Rosen started Motion Performance in 1963, working out of a gas station in Brooklyn, NY. It was there that he installed a Clayton chassis dynamometer, which gave him the ability to super-tune engines and drivetrain configurations. By 1966, he moved his shop to Long Island, right next door to Baldwin Chevrolet — and the Baldwin Motion legend began.

Motion Performance tweaked, upfitted and super-tuned new Chevrolet cars sold through Baldwin Chevrolet. Not only were the cars brutally fast, they also retained a full factory GM warranty. Sales literature of the day included a bold guarantee that the Phase III cars would produce mid-11-second quarter-mile performance right off the showroom floor.

The essence of what Joel Rosen did was to take the “day two” garage build and professionalize it. His cars removed the trial-and-error of seeking out the right aftermarket parts to go faster. In the case of Motion Performance cars, it was much, much faster.

How fast do you want to go?

Going fast came with a hefty price. To illustrate that, our subject car sold off the Motion Performance lot for a crisp $8,000. Given that a brand-new no-frills V8-powered Camaro sold for about $3,300 back in 1973, the Motion-installed goodies could easily double and nearly triple the cost of the car. That’s a staggering amount of money for what some consider a radical “day-two” street car. Put in today’s dollars, that $40,000 2019 Camaro would sell for about $100,000 or more with the Motion magic installed.

As reported, our subject car is believed to be the very last Phase III Motion Camaro ever built. The ownership trail is well documented as it was originally owned and sold by Joel Rosen’s mechanic, Dominick LoPinto. LoPinto had actually built the car at Motion for his own use from a stock 350 LT Camaro. As the story goes, LoPinto sold the car off the Motion Performance lot to its next owner, Butch Ongaro, for $8,000.

Under Ongaro’s ownership, our subject car was immediately put to use as a quarter-mile track terror. It was raced for about 10 years before Ongaro sold the car. Interestingly, the car found its way back into the Ongaro family when Butch’s son, Chris, tracked it down and purchased it several years later. By the 1990s, Butch and his son Chris freshened the car with some additional custom touches before it was eventually sold to a collector in Florida.

Never restored

This Phase III Camaro has never been fully restored. It reportedly carries its original engine — or at least a proper date-coded mill — built to the 475-horse Phase III specifications. Many of the Motion Performance goodies are still intact. It was also signed by Joel Rosen.

The interior had been modified with a custom tweed pattern but has since been returned back to factory stock — including the Motion-installed roll bar, which has never been removed. At some point the car was repainted in green, but it has been returned back to its original gold exterior with the white trademark Motion Performance angular racing stripe.

Over the years, other Motion gear, such as the Superbite traction system, has gone missing in action. But overall, the car presents as it would have back in 1973.

A known car

There aren’t a lot of surviving Motion cars out there and they don’t change hands very often. That said, our subject Motion Phase III Camaro has been widely photographed and featured in numerous magazines. It’s a known car, which is generally a good thing. It was also the subject of several supercar blogs, especially before and after the Mecum sale. Some well-known experts in the classic-car business speculated that the car would likely sell for over $200,000, which wouldn’t have been over the top several years ago.

I don’t speculate about what a car is worth without having some pretty hard data to back it up. As of late, most of the well-presented Baldwin Motion Phase III builds have been selling right around the $100,000 mark, give or take $10,000.

At the same Mecum Harrisburg sale, Lot S113, a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Baldwin Motion Phase III, sold for $115,500. Earlier in the year, another 1969 Corvette Motion Phase III was a no-sale at the Mecum Kissimmee auction in January, with a high bid of $80,000. That focuses in on a baseline for this car, too.

The final Motion

By the latest sales of well-documented and genuine Baldwin Motion machines, it’s clear that a new value dynamic is now in play. While it would be easy to suggest that the car was a bargain at anywhere under $200,000, that might not be the case any longer. While it did present well, it was not a fully restored “minty” example. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that some collectors prefer shiny objects in their collections.

All that said, and given that this may be the very last Motion Phase III Camaro sold by the famous performance partnership — and a car that reflects the end of the radical super-tuned “day two” muscle-car era — I’d say this car was well bought. 

(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.)

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