Camaro reborn: 700-horsepower, $427,000
Reborn muscle-car era speed shop building ultra-high-performance Camaros from scratch.
November 11, 2005; Posted: 11:40 a.m. EST (1640 GMT)
LAS VEGAS (CNN/Money) - If you missed your opportunity to buy a brand-new Chevrolet Camaro before General Motors stopped making them in 2002, here's your chance.
You'd better have some serious cash, though.
The reincarnation of a muscle-car era team that specialized in making high-performance Chevrolets has brought the reincarnation of the Camaro itself. This time, they're making their own Camaros from scratch with bodies designed with the help of a 22-year-old California car artist.
The look of the new Baldwin-Motion 540 Camaro SuperCoupe calls to mind the the 1969 Camaro, but this is a bigger, broader two-seat monster. The SuperCoupe is powered by a 700-horsepower V-8 engine.
In a nod to the good old days, the company lists the engine's displacement as 540 cubic inches. That's about 8.9 liters for those of you too young to remember when engine displacement was measured in cubic inches.
Even the car's price is a nod to those old English-unit days: $427,000.
Camaros with General Motors' 427-cubic-inch engine were the basis for some of the most famous cars created by the original Baldwin-Motion Performance Group.
That company was formed when Motion Performance, a Brooklyn, NY, speed shop, moved their operations to the suburban town of Baldwin, NY. There, in 1966, they partnered with a local Chevy dealership to sell custom performance upgrades.
Their cars, mostly high-horsepower Corvettes, Camaros and Chevelles, became some of the most prized muscle cars of the era.
Joel Rosen and Martyn Schorr were largely responsible for creating the original Baldwin-Motion. Rosen was the mechanic, Schorr was responsible for public relations, advertising and marketing.
The pair started their new company, now based in Florida, last summer along with several business partners.
This time, the cars are being created without factory-built Camaros to base them on. The new cars' all-steel bodies will be built by Time Machines, a Florida company specializing in body work for classic muscle cars.
The success legendary performance tuner Carroll Shelby has had with a line of faithfully recreated Shelby muscle cars -- not to mention an upcoming Shelby version of the new Ford Mustang -- had something to do with inspiring this venture, said Lawrence Jaworske, Motion's chief executive officer.
"Why should Carroll get to have all the fun?" he said.
Designer Kris Horton worked with Rosen to pen the prototype car. Horton came to the attention of the Baldwin-Motion team because of a sketch he did for Popular Hot-Rodding magazine in the summer of 2003. That computer sketch, which was distributed widely on the Internet, illustrated what a Chevrolet Camaro might look like if General Motors were to produce the car again.
The Baldwin-Motion SuperCoupe's body, while resembling a 1969 Camaro in the front grill, rear and overall shape, actually shares no sheet-metal or dimensions with that car.
Each of the 12 SuperCoupes the company plans to sell will be hand-made according to the customer's desires, said Lawrence Jaworske, Motion's chief executive officer. That 700-horsepower engine isn't supercharged, for example. If you really want, it could be.
The company is proud of the fact that its supercars will be totally "streetable," said Joworske. In other words, the cars are designed to be safely and legally driven on public roads by non-professional drivers. Motion will not want to do anything to jeopardize the car's road-ready nature, said Jaworske.
"We want to be responsible about what we're doing," he said.
The company will tell buyers to allow a year for their cars to be completed.
The new Motion Camaro will also bring back "the guarantee" that went with the original cars.
Those cars were guaranteed to be able to run a quarter mile from a dead stop in 11.5 seconds at a top speed of 120 miles per hour.
The new guarantee has been tightened to 10 seconds, said Jaworske.
For those with a little less to spend, the company is also making 25 Motion Phase III Camaros which it will sell for about $189,000 each, said Jaworske. Those cars, Jaworske said, will more closely resemble original 1969 Camaros and will use some original body parts.
While he's not exactly sure who the "typical buyer" for a $400,000 to $500,000 700-horsepower Camaro might be, Schorr pointed to the current market in highly collectible muscle cars, including classic Baldwin Motion Camaros from the 1960s and '70s. While not common, extremely rare muscle cars in pristine condition can sell for prices well into six figures.
The prototype Motion Super-Coupe will be sold at the Barrett-Jackson collectible car auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. in January. That event, which is broadcast live on cable television, generally brings some of the highest prices paid for collectible muscle cars.
"If it doesn't bring big bucks at that auction it never will," said Schorr.
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