1970 Chevrolet Camaro SS Baldwin Motion 454 Stage III – AMT Ertl

1970BMotionCamaro (6)And now for another Camaro, why yes indeed! The better of the two Camaro kits(for now), with a crisper mold and arguably a better overall image in the model car kit community. I was holding this one up against the Camaro Z/28 the whole way through that particular article and knowing that I’ve had this kit for a year plus now and it just… sat there, it really could do with being built. The whole reason I initially bought it was to do the decal sheet for it and do it properly. As well as of course do the split-stripe Baldwin Motion 454 Camaro for the 1971 year. And uh… many more.

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Regardless, it sat collecting dust under a table after I scanned in and photographed the body plenty enough. Then, long after I stowed it away, Round 2 proudly announced the re-tooling of the Camaro kit and finally give us a damn full bumper, single headlight Camaro. The first one since 1973, can you believe that? In an age of re-releases where every odd month a tool from 1967 is dug up to be used up after so long, it’s truly peculiar to see one of the best selling muscle cars of all time fall by the way side.

1970BMotionCamaro (2)But, I hear you say, but Mr. Writer Man, that is because they took the tool for the full bumper kit behind the shed and let it closely examine the rifling of the Remington rifle that got shoved in its eyes – and you’re right! They executed the full bumper tool  and re purposed its empty chest cavity for the double headlight split bumper in the eighties, combining this amalgamation of half-MPC guts, half-AMT guts into one gargantuan misshapen, ugly, terrible mess. Also side note, I know the term should be “twin headlight” and “quad headlight” rather than single and twin, but I’m a fool so bear with me.

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Either way, it’s finally happening and in celebration thereof I’m revisiting my, what, third and fourth models respectively? I never did write an article about the Baldwin Motion and the Z/28 article was uh, a thing. So I thought its time to use my tricks that I learned over the years and put them to use with a little elbow grease and actually try to make something nice out of them for once. For the Z/28 350, I went with the dark gray I at first wanted to do this one in but then it occurred to me, all of the Baldwin Motion cars are abrasively out there; they don’t do subtle. The green is honestly the darkest shade you could get the damn thing in, so I swapped the colors out – popping metallic blue under the black rear, why yes, yes indeed.

1970BMotionCamaro (12)Baldwin Motion is one of those four or five big names from the 1960s-going-on-1970s that really latched onto GM’s “COPO” program. They’re all dealers from across the United States, all dealt in GM products and they all fell in love with the Camaro, Chevelle, Corvette and Nova the most. Dana Chevrolet out of Long Beach, CA was the first to transplant the 427ci V8 out of the ‘Vette into the Camaro and that’s where the whole idea of dealers making subtle sleepers came from; the Dana hood for instance is just a simple twin-snorkel hood that on the outside doesn’t really scream “437HP car”. Then you had Nickey Chevrolet out in Chicago, IL where it became quite literally a customization shop to the customer’s taste. But you also had the now ever so famous Yenko, ran by Don Yenko out of Cannonsburg, PA and just like Nickey, just like Dana, Yenko too was a racing car driver with a dealership that just didn’t get enough power out of the supposed ‘powerful’ cars, so he just like the rest, began to offer suped-up versions; namely the Yenko S/C or sYc; the Yenko Super Car. And honestly, I can go on all day and not even remotely do those people’s backgrounds justice, they’re all enigmatic and engineering masterminds who turned the muscle car, into a beefcake car.

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I didn’t even mention the elephant in the room in that little background wade there; Baldwin Motion. Joel Rosen, a racing car driver and engine builder out of Brooklyn joined Baldwin Chevrolet out of well, Baldwin in New York and even before the Baldwin days, Rosen was known for making supremely, over the top, outrageously fast engines that would set a dyno on fire. In 1966 when he joined Baldwin, they began to offer specialty tuned packages on just about any Chevrolet on the lot if the customer so desired. And from these, we get the wide-as-hell selection of everything. The whole point was to create a car that was fast as balls on the road and could be not-at-all compromised on the track still. It had road-going comforts and for the most part it was the customer who chose if the luxury had to go for more speed(weight v.s. power back then was… well, with 3500 pound cars, no-one gave a shit if you had the top of the line luxury added atop of the minivan sized engine), and Rosen made it so that even fully equipped, that car could dominate. Even going as far as to call his cars “super cars”. And you know what, they were. And in 1967, when the all-new Camaro came to the public, those dealers had a damn field day.

1970BMotionCamaro (9)The funny thing is, a 1967 ad for the ’67 Phase III Motion Camaro called out exactly what I just described. Quite literally saying it’s not a sports car, drag car or a family car, yet somehow, still being exactly all of them. Considering they threaded the line of being called a jack of all trades and a master of none, they kind of pulled it off – being exactly a jack of all trades and a master of all nonetheless. It wasn’t until 1968 when the crazy sticker packages started to take off, with the 1968 Phase III having a quite lively stripe set that got further expanded on in 1969(Rosen gone on record saying there’s no Phase I or II, “Phase III” just sounds cool). But lets be fair, it got… it got conkers in 1970. Fresh of the line in mid-1970, the Camaro got a kick up something fierce; a freshly developed 1970 LS6 454 cubic inch V8 sourced once again from the Corvette which was now also offered into the other models by default would make it into the Camaro which at the time didn’t actually get a block bigger than the 396ci V8 and torque-monster 400ci V8 by default.

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And those 454’s… they were huge. They really packed a considerable punch and they were really popular among the dealership cars, right up there with the Yenkos. Though unfortunately, Baldwin Motion was also kind of responsible along with Yenko for bringing the custom dealership car to a painful halt in 1973. Yenko abruptly backed out the EPA testing of his ’72 Vega Stinger with the 4 cylinder cranked up to max via turbocharger cause they required 50000 miles to be driven in one before it was allowed to pass. He did eventually push out the already tested Stinger Vegas without the turbo, but this was quite literally the last Yenko Super Car model that left their shop. And Baldwin Motion ran into a totally different issue, albeit with the same agency and the same damn model: The Motion Super Vega.

1970BMotionCamaro (28)A 454 powered modified(pretty much only in the suspension, tire and engine housing compartment) that got Joel Rosen a cease-and-desist letter from the EPA in 1974 after being featured in Car Craft magazine, and they quite literally demanded that if they didn’t stop putting non-factory options onto any car, they would be given a 10,000$ fine per removed emission device. This was 1974 money, in 2019 money this is 51,000$ per Vega. That’s a staggering, ungodly high penalty. So… he ceased doing exactly that by settling a 500$ fine in 1975 and promising to no longer continue it for on the road vehicles, from then on he marked every car as ‘export only’ and ‘for off-road use only’. From there on out, Motion kind of faded into the background, though it still exists today, go figure!

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And that right there was a six paragraph history lesson on dealer-tuned cars and how… they all went away. Besides Yenko. And technically Hurst. And kind of Motion Performance. Oh fuck it. Anyway! One more thing of interest about Joel Rosen is that in the nineties, he was by this point a massive, avid model enthusiast. Like, of any type: prop planes, tanks, military planes, boats, military ships, it goes on and one thing of considerable import to us car model kit folks: he joined Ertl and Racing Champions back then to help put out the Baldwin Motion Camaro, ensuring its high grade quality with the Motion Performance name. It’s claimed(though I myself can’t verify it) he was also part of Revell’s undertaking of the 1969 Baldwin Motion Camaro around the same time.

1970BMotionCamaro (13)Like I kept rambling on about in the Z/28 350 article, this kit’s… the better one. In terms of mold quality, it’s leaps and bounds ahead, even though they come from the same damn source. The hood isn’t warped and torn to shreds due to crappy plastic quality and stupendously idiotic injector point placement, where you can actually hide the injection part, it’s got clearer details on most the parts cause they’re not soft blobs in the same of car related parts, the front end is… less crappy, which on the Z/28 kit is damn near flat due to the quality of the plastic but on the Baldwin Motion kit is actually kind of reasonable. That being said though, this kit desperately, like to a disturbing degree, separate headlight buckets. It’s awful. There’s no adequate way of describing how much better it would be if they could’ve been separate. Now you have to squeeze 4 transparent headlight pieces into the body and because of the way the body is molded, they don’t fit. They awkwardly get forced in there and they don’t really ever seem to look… right.

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Another problem that is unique to this kit is, and you might’ve spotted in the pictures, is the damn knuckle-dragger stance. There’s no way, no real way of knowing how low your exhausts will be. They should never have made it so the exhaust headers are one piece down to the chassis and have the rest of the exhaust pipes be a separate piece. Instead, a fix would’ve been quite simple: have the exhaust pipes with the headers, you know, the visible piece outside the car, be met halfway in the engine, where they’re covered by the engine block and engine bay, so even if you dicked it up, it’ll be hidden from view. The way they have it now is that the engine, with the headers, will be glued and stuck, incapable to be adjusted, days ahead of placing the exhausts. I mean for Gods sake… it’s pretty, pretty damn bad.

1970BMotionCamaro (16)On the flip side, however! This is the better version, it’s got a far more detailed engine bay, the quality is leaps ahead of the oddly enough exact same version just with different sprues, it has better tires and it has a better decal sheet. So, what did I do to it to make it more unique? Well for starters, only the stripes are used from the kit and I painted them gloss black with Tamiya blacks. The rest are my own decals, even though I screwed up the placement of the tail ones: the left one should’ve been a SS emblem and the Baldwin Motion badge above it, with the 454 emblem on the right, but instead I just put more Motion decals. The engine bay is fully wired, plumbed and decal’d up the wazoo – and holy shit does the air cleaner look good with the decal, I’m so pleasantly surprised by it.

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The body is painted with Tamiya’s TS-54 “Light Metallic Blue” with their clear over it and it’s the first time I’ve used their simple glossy clear and it’s actually supremely nice to use. It dries in a instant, it’s no wet look but it’s precisely what it says on the cap: glossy. Plus, it’s a decal’s best pal. It’s not gonna curl ’em, cause them to rip on the body, so forth, it actually seals them in perfectly. Another little home-addition I did, first time for anything – hood latches. I used some stray wire strands I yanked from the wires I’m using in the engine bay and painted ’em silver, leaving them to dry. Then I forced them in with the grille piece which forced them stuck perfectly and drilled holes in the hood latches. In the end, I gotta say, it’s quite a nice little finishing touch.

Like, all in all – definitely one of my better efforts I’d say. It joins the other Camaro, the Z/28 on the shelf and a little vacant spot’s gonna stay until the full bumper Camaro sees itself being shoved onto hobby store shelves. Until then, it’s gonna be finishing up the 1977 Firebird T/A S.E. and 1977 Pinto Special Accent Group – good time for ’77!

’70 Chevrolet Camaro SS Baldwin Motion 454 Phase III specifications:
Kit: AMT855
Skill Level: 2
Parts: 159
Molded in: Dark Green

Scale: 1/25

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