Carlisle Import Kit/Replica Nationals
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Posted 28 May 2007 - 04:18 PM
Each year, Carlisle Productions holds automotive events throughout the summer. Known best for their bi-annual auto jumble, as well as dedicated events for automotive genres like all-Ford, all-GM, all-Chrysler and all-truck, it is the Import Kit/Repica event that might be described most eclectic . It is a home for orphans - brands and genres of cars that normally wouldnʼt draw out a big enough crowd in and of themselves to warrant a show of their own on a Carlisle scale.
Orphans they may be, but these tousle-haired brands are not unloved. In fact, the more niche youʼd expect them to be, the more they tend to draw a following. When clubs for Saabs and Fieros tend to be some of the biggest attractions, you know youʼre in for something you wonʼt see every day.
Whatʼs that? Fiero you say. Thatʼs neither import nor kit car. No, but many a Fiero gave its ribbed-for-your-pleasure skin so that a designer imposter Italian exoticar could start a new life. Just like the red-headed little orphan Annie, there are more than a few red-headed Fier-arri Testarossas out there for the guys who like to dress up in pastel shirts and white Tommy Bahama suits on weekends and live the Miami Vice dream.
Fier-arris may have passed their prime, but their heyday started a trend of drawing out the Fiero supporting cottage industry, and in turn drawing out the actual Fiero fans who are most avid and appreciative of the original body by Pontiac and not a house of mirrors interpretation of a Pinninfarina classic.
As with the Fiero, so go the other normally-niche automotive cults. Makes such as Peugeot, Renault, Fiat and Lancia show in surprisingly large numbers given the amount of cars on the road and that none of these brands have sold here in years. BMW and Porsche owners show, but not in as large a number. In the Subaru field, youʼre more apt to find a raised vintage Brat than an Impreza, which should be even more of a hint at what youʼll find at Carlisle.
Audis turn out in large numbers, an atypically strong showing sans much of any Volkswagen (the two corporate cousins normally shown together in the enthusiast community). Much of todayʼs Audi presence is tied directly to the efforts of a number of close-knit, die-hard B2 owners and owners of some other ʽ80s era Audis. That effort has been built upon by the Audi Club of North America and Audi Tradition Club, that today spans everything from NSU and DKW offerings to the latest A, S and RS designated Audis.
urQuattro fans should take particular note. What other shows can you see numbers of fine examples, including no-less than two RS2-converted versions of the coupes.
Volvo drew an exceptionally large number this year. Carlisle has always been a good show for Volvo owners, but the perfect storm of the Volvo Club of America national meet, combined with a vintage collection from Volvo themselves, strong showings from members of various Volvo website forums and tuners like Heico Sportiv helped bring what appeared to be more than three hundred cars.
Carlisle always marks the Saab clubʼs national meet, and GMʼs Swedish badge consistently does well here as a result. Supporting the efforts of the enthusiasts, GMʼs heritage arm brought out a comprehensive collection of their own Saabs, adding no less than eighteen cars to the already thick Saab show field.
Of course, kit cars are also a big part of the Carlisle event, and whole halls on the fairgrounds are dedicated to the specialty car industry. Not just Ferrari-bodied Fieros anymore, more serious replicas of Porsches, Cobras and Lamborghinis tend to be the norm today. Look inside and youʼd have likely found new models such as Beckʼs new Porsche 904, a 356 Coupe by JPS Motorsports, and even a steel-bodied ʼ57 Chevy convertible replica by Freese Motorcars. Even the seldom-rare classic Cobra replica had some new faces to show, including one in handsome blue and orange Gulf livery.
One very interesting find was spotted sitting atop a nondescript rented table in the middle of the replica hall. The presentation may have been modest, but the performance potential was anything but. Hartley Enterprises was showing off a 2.8-liter V8 made with Suzuki Hayabusa heads thatʼll knock out 400 horsepower peak at 9,500 RPM before hitting its 10,800 RPM redline. Put that in your kit and smoke it.
Like most of their events, the Carlisle Import Kit/Replica Nationals span three days. Thatʼs a good thing, as itʼll take you more than a day to see everything, from the show fields and halls, to the rows of vendors, car corral and more. Lucky they offer on-site camping, which can also be spelled P-A-R-T-Y-I-N-G if youʼre so inclined.
Orphans they may be, but these cars and this crowd are fine with that. Put them all together, and you have one impressive family gathering open to all types of automotive enthusiast.
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