The Carlisle Import and Kit Replicar Show is for certified automotive crazies, and you can count me among them. If you have stuffed a big block V8 into your Volvo PV544, this is your show. If you have 50 grand and counting into your Renault Alliance, this is your show. If you have a Porsche Speedster replica with a Subaru WRX STI engine in it, this is your show. If your have a Peugeot 504 racecar, this is your show. If you have a 2CV with every known option, this is your show. Many import brands are out in force for this show, and there are some beautiful examples of each marque, but the rare, the strange, and the extreme, always make this a fascinating show. It is no wonder that the show Car Crazy did a special on this event a few years ago.

I have been attending this show with the BMW 2002 Mid Atlantik Group for many years. There were quite a few 2002s in attendance this year, but nothing like the crowds a few years ago. I suspect that the proximity to the Vineyards event in north carolina is part of the reason. This show was also a major swapmeet, with aisles of individuals and vendors. It is obvious that as the show field has grown, the swapmeet area has dwindled, but there are still deals to be found. I came away with some Beru shielded plug wires for the 911, and a motorcycle fender (yes, there is always a little 2-wheeled activity as well). There were also some deals on wheels. A couple of Porsche 924s and 944s, a couple of BMWs, and as always, a few Bugeyes and MGBs.

The for sale corral is always an eclectic mix. VWs and Volvos and old Mercedes share space with many MGBs and Triumphs. However, you are also likely to find a Ferrari 308, or a Lotus Elan, or a Morris Minor, or a Toyota cargo van. Prices tend to be similarly varied. Wildly optimistic to downright bargains, and everything inbetween. If you find yoursself with an empty trailer, this is a dangerous place to be.


The many buildings at Carlisle become home to vendors and showrooms, and seminars, and special displays. One such display was the “Kids Choice” building which this year had a stunning collection of Ed Ulsom’s BMWs. There were other cars in the building, but Ed’s cars were jaw-droppers. A Bauer cabriolet, a Touring, a CS, a Z1, and more. All museum quality, but all registered, inspected, and driven. Beyond the buildings is the Kit Car area of the showfield. Cobras to 356s to Caterhams, all better than the originals in many ways, and a lot cheaper, but not the real deal.

On the rest of the showfield, the cars are arranged by nationality, and then by Marque. It is a convenient way to arrange things, and I’m sure it makes the judging easier. However, I’m sure that over half the show field has no interest (or chance) in winning awards. The german car section is heaviest in the Audi and the Opel Marques. There are Porsches, BMWs, VWs, and Mercedes present, but this is not their show. Probably because they have many large shows of their own. However, I did see what was probably the nicest example of a Mercedes 250SL (perhaps of any SL) that I have ever seen. The Italian section is also pretty sparse most years, and this year was the same. However, a few nice Fiats showed up, and a Maserati. The french quarter is usually well populated. An army of Citroen DSs is usually accompanied by a flotilla of 2CVs, a strong Renault section, and some nice Peugeots. The British section is always well populated by MG and Triumph. This year there were some really nice Triumph Stags.


Some nationalities have had to annex more space over time. There was no Asian car section for a while, and now the Z Car and Miata contingent make that a healthy section. However, I believe the largest nationality for the last several years has been….wait for it….Swedish. The Saab and Volvo areas are split into two areas of the showfield. Perhaps so that people do not become overwhelmed. Perhaps because the marque devotion is so fierce. The array of machinery is impressive. A Saab 96 (there were more in past years), Sonnetts and an armada of 900s mixed it up with 9-5s, and the subaru-based SUVs. They had much to celebrate, as Saab narrowly survived as an independent carmaker. The Volvo area took a while to walk through, but rewarded the patient. I think that nearly every generation and model might have been present. And each seemed to have a hotrod version within the ranks. My favorite is always the 122, and several were present. Great looking cars in stock form, or as race cars. To make matters worse, there was one for sale along Route 11 on the way home. Good thing I didn’t have the trailer…..

4 Replies to “Carlisle is for Crazies”

  1. I went to that show years ago. It was much smaller, and mostly kit cars. Sounds much better now. Almost bought a mini from the swap area from a British guy. The southeast needs a show like this…

  2. Dear Colin,

    I though the Mitty weekend was developing into a big multi-faceted event ? Carlisle is a big show now more than anything else, but still a lot of fun to go to. Guys put a lot of money into kit cars. Amazing


  3. Dear Stabmwagon,

    Ed was really cool to talk to. I plan to visit his place at some point. We should coordinate….


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