HomeCar CultureJoel Rosen of Motion Performance Passes

Joel Rosen of Motion Performance Passes

Famed Long Island tuner built the fastest street machines of the muscle car era.


Joel Rosen, aka Mr. Motion, Delray Beach, Florida, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on October 9, 2023, after battling bladder cancer for more than a year. He was just two weeks shy of his 84th birthday, and had been admitted to Hospice Care on September 30th.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1939, he graduated from James Madison High School at age 16 and attended Brooklyn College, majoring in Engineering. Frustrated by the lack of hands-on experience available, he left after two years and joined the Air Force.

It was at the Reciprocating Engine Mechanics School at Shepherd Air Force Base in Texas where Rosen honed his skills as an engine tuner, diagnostician, and builder. He also led the the General’s Drill Team while at Shepherd AFB.

Driven by a competitive spirit and an endless passion for fast cars and racing, Rosen opened a small Brooklyn-based speed shop – Motion Performance – in 1963 specializing in performance modifications and race car preparation. It was one of the only shops of its kind in the New York City area to have a Clayton chassis dynamometer and offer high-tech tuning.

Approximately three years later, he and his wife, Judith, relocated Motion Performance to a considerably larger facility on Sunrise Highway in Baldwin, Long Island, where it was operational into the 1990s. Shortly after opening Motion, Rosen purchased the first fuel-injected ’63 Corvette split-window coupe sold in the New York City Metro area. Nicknamed the Skunk due to its Daytona Blue paint with a bold single white racing stripe, it was prepped for competition, and raced by both by Joel and Judith Rosen as well as being driven daily.

The Rosens drag raced and soloed the Skunk, finishing the 1963 SSSC & BDS (South Shore Sports Car & Beer Drinking Society) gymkhana season with “Overall Champion” honors. The Sting Ray was also a local drag racing champion.

“Each Wednesday evening, we ran at Roosevelt Raceway (eighth-mile drags), Fridays it was Islip (eighth-mile drags) and Saturdays it was Westhampton (quarter-mile drags). Sundays were reserved for road racing and solo gymkhana events,” said Rosen in a magazine interview. “One Wednesday night I won Stock Eliminator at Roosevelt, blowing the doors off the undefeated local champ, Gary Stowe, in his 409 Impala. I also unseated the reigning Islip champ (modified 409/425 Chevy) the first time out. We raced the Skunk between four and five times a week.”

The Rosens’ dyno-tuned, Atlas-Bucron-shod street-driven split-window Fuelie coupe became the car to beat at Roosevelt in 1963. It also was a consistent Street Eliminator winner at Islip. That year Mr. & Mrs. Motion won the LISCA (Long Island Sports Car Association) Championship, and filled one room in their home with more than 100 trophies and awards! In addition to Judith racing alongside her husband, in the early years she helped build the speed shop business by working behind the counter, helping customers and selling speed equipment.

In 1967, Joel Rosen and friend and editor of HI-PERFORMANCE CARS magazine, Marty Schorr, co-founded the Baldwin-Motion brand, which grew to become one of the most successful builders and marketers of limited-production brand new Chevrolet Supercars.

Rosen was one of the early (drag racing) adopters of Chevrolet’s big-block L88 road racing engine, fitting it into the first Baldwin-Motion 427 Camaro race car, sponsored by Hi-PERFORMANCE CARS. The second application was the iconic KO-MOTION I967 Corvette. The L88 engine was available on any Baldwin-Motion Chevy. Baldwin-Motion offered the most performance and custom options of any specialty car builder, including Shelby-American.

Mr. Motion – the dyno-tuning speed merchant from Brooklyn – turned 427 and 454 engine swaps into an empire, building ultimate performance Chevrolets, many being exported to Canada, the Middle East, England, Norway, and Germany. Joel Rosen’s story and the history of Motion and Baldwin-Motion were the subjects of a book, MOTION Performance Tales Of A Muscle Car Builder by Martyn L. Schorr, winner of the 2010 International Automotive Media Silver Award. 

When Baldwin-Motion started producing serious high-performance Corvette Stingrays in 1968, Rosen was befriended by the Corvette’s Godfather, Zora Arkus-Duntov. He later introduced Joel to Chevrolet’s head performance guy, Vince Piggins, a close personal friend of road racer Don Yenko who was also building 427 Camaros.

While best known for his signature Baldwin-Motion and Motion branded Chevrolet Supercars and AHRA-NHRA National Record holding A and B/Modified Production Gen 1 and Gen 2 Camaros, L88 Corvette and small and big-block Shelby Cobra racecars, Joel Rosen’s passions also included a love of animals and marine life. He was an accomplished diver, underwater photographer and, during the 1980s, was the largest breeder of rare boas and pythons in the U.S. He was an expert on breeding ultra-rare snakes, including the Australian black-headed Python, and often consulted for zoos here and abroad.

Fascinated by 18th and 19th century life in Japan, his years of studying Japanese culture led to him and Judith amassing the largest collection of rare vintage Ningyo dolls outside of Japan. Many of their dolls have been showcased in museums and shows in the U.S., and featured in prestigious books. Joel Rosen was considered an expert in the field.

Many years had passed since Motion and Baldwin-Motion’s glory days, but in 2005 Joel Rosen partnered with Joel Ehrenpreis and Larry Jaworske to bring the brands back to life. Marty Schorr was brought in to handle public relations and advertising. Rosen was the guiding force behind MOTION, LLC’s 540 Camaro SuperCoupe and the new generation, limited-edition 1969 Baldwin-Motion SS-427 and Phase III big-block Camaros.

The new 540 SuperCoupe, launched at the 2005 SEMA Show where it won GM’s Best Design Award, represents a quantum leap beyond anything previously badged Baldwin-Motion. An article in the April 2006 issue of MUSCLECAR ENTHUSIAST referred to the SuperCoupe as “America’s Greatest Supercar.”

The SuperCoupe, purchased at the 2006 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction by mega-collector Ron Pratte for $486,000 (including buyer’s premium) further validated the revival of the Motion and Baldwin-Motion brands. It paved the way for the second stage of the iconic brands: A limited build of 1969 SS-427 and Phase III Baldwin-Motion Camaros announced in March 2006. Total production of new Baldwin-Motion Chevys was capped at just 12 vehicles.

When the Gen V Camaro was introduced, Joel Rosen partnered with Howard Tanner at Redline Motorsports and Dan Carlton at DeNooyer Chevrolet to produce a new series of 2011 SS and Phase III Camaros with 427 and 454 engines rated at 525 to 800 horsepower. Just a few were built, with Rosen taking delivery of the first, a Phase III 427-SC powered by a serious 800 horsepower supercharged 454 big-block.

In 2021, Joel Rosen made a decision to retire, selling his Phase III 427-SC Camaro to Chevrolet performance enthusiast, Kasey Alford. Alford also purchased all of Rosen’s archived Motion and Baldwin-Motion paperwork and is now the source for documenting high-performance cars built at Motion Performance. He is now the new Mr. Motion and can be contacted at [email protected].

Joel Rosen was a loving husband, father and grandfather and is survived by Judith, his spouse of 62 years, daughter Robin Sue Rosen, son Shawn Rosen, daughter-in law Robin Rosen, and grandchildren Zachary, Travis, and Bailey Rosen. His favorite pets Ragnar (dog) and Archie (Kinkajou) also survive him.

Obituary and images published with permission from Marty Schorr.



  1. starting back in the mid 60s i thought motion performance and chevrolets were the greatest things in existence. chevies certainly ruled the streets as far as i was concerned and my first new car was a 1968 chevelle ss397-375hp, 4:10 gears, and m22 trans. i bought and read every issue of cars magazine, etc just to keep up with joel, motion performance, and baldwin chevrolet.
    it is with great sadness that i have learned about his passing.

  2. I am sorry to see this. I remember him from as far back as islip 1/8 mile drags on Friday eves. He ran his 63 and I had a D/SP 66 vette. Long before sunrise hiway motion. Then connecting hiways with my 67 ! Those were the days and Joel was certainly ahead of the times with business ideas ! Rest in peace and my sympathy to family and friends!

  3. You were motion & every aspect of it “you were & are the man RIP god bless you??☝️Keep racing/building in heaven!!!!

  4. I returned from the Middle East and SubSaharan Africa in 1987, bought a well used Motion modified ’72 SS-Z/28. Built 454, stout Muncie trans, Hurst cue ball shifter, dramatic body/paintwork- remember the overspoiler pointy hockey stick Motion stripe? Those 4″ cowl induction/fake Vette 427 hoods?- and ridiculous rear axle (4.56). And those Hooker side mount headers, that Joel had so much love into… car was Sunflower Yellow with a black interior, headers were “dusty black”, not chrome. Rusted like a Liberian flagged tramp freighter, btw. Spent a lot of $ on VHT flat black. No console, just a Hurst chrome surround and boot.
    But that glorious noise. And the 1700-4000rpm pull. And the ability to smoke show at will- the ’60s bias plies weren’t capable, oh, no. I wish I had psychic abilities, cuz I used that car up on Indianapolis’ South Madison Avenue and Indianapolis Raceway Park. When I sold it, mains knocking and fiberglas peeling, I wasn’t even aware enough to be sad.
    Now I’m sad.
    RIP Joel, you are already missed.

  5. I remember both Joel and Judy from the Avalon theatre on kingshyway and east 14th street. My name is bill and at that time my girl friend was Nancy. Joel drove an Oldsmobile with three on the column, I had a 57 Chevy. He was a great guy.


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