The beautiful thing about the Carlisle Import event is that it’s very eclectic. If you are a regular reader, then you know it always has been. The best evidence of that shows up in the for sale car corral. A stroll through that area this year presents a Ferrari 308, A Land Rover Series II, a Nissan GTR, a Morris Minor, a Volvo P1800, a beach buggy, a Rolls-Royce, a Citroen 2CV, a Porsche 356 replica, and an E class Mercedes. You just can’t get much more eclectic than that. It is a tribute to this event, that all of those sellers believe that they will be able to find a buyer. And I am sure that many did.

Truth be told, attendance seemed down from last year, both in vendors and in attendees. However, enthusiasm is never down at this event. That is perhaps particularly true if you’re a fan of one of the Swedish marques. This event represents one of the largest gatherings I know of for Volvo and Saab automobiles. Even within those marques, there is an eclectic blend of the old and the new. A Volvo PV444 next to a hot rod XC90. I am not sure what it is about Volvo station wagons that make them attractive to tuners, but they were out in force. How about a 2 stroke Saab 95 next to a Viggen 9-3 in that distinctive blue color. I am sure that those cars, along with the flock of Sonnets just got a lot more valuable since Saab is no more.

The French contingent is always out in force as well. If you want to compare a nice example of a Citroen SM with a CX with a DS and then with a GS, this would be the place to do it. Curious about how the 2CV evolved? View examples from the 1950s to the 1970s. Did you know that there is a thriving Renault Alliance community? Remember the Renault Fuego? Seen a Renault 4CV lately? How about a Renault 5 Turbo. Carlisle is the place to see them and to meet their owners and fans.

Unfortunately, the swap meet has been dwindling every year. It is now mostly vendors with a few private individuals sprinkled about. It is still very much worth a stroll through the aisles, but don’t expect to find rare and hard-to-find parts spread upon a blanket. There are however, a fair number of parts cars stuck behind stalls and still on trailers off to the side. Prices were often reasonable and the good ones sold quickly. I bought a few books and returned to the car show.

Vintage Japanese automobiles are on the rise in terms of popularity, and the Toyota, Mazda,and Nissan/Datsun fans were there as evidence. I liked the white Mazda RX2, and the clean 1976 Toyota Corolla station wagon. Of course, the Datsun Z armada was present as well.

Fiat may have just returned to the US with new cars, but it never went away at Carlisle. Fiat 124s, 131s, and spiders shared space with the new Fiat 500. There was a lone Maserati Bora near to a De Tomaso Mangusta. Jumping from Italy to England, there was a large section of the showfield reserved for cars from the British Empire. Although I left early this year, I heard that there was a fleet of thirty something minis on their way to the show field. That must’ve been quite the sight on the nearby roads. Triumph always has a strong showing with spitfires and every version of TR you can imagine. I really liked the dark green Rover 3 litre with tan leather.

Perhaps because there are many other dedicated shows, the Carlisle import show tends not to be the strongest for the German contingent. The BMW 2002 crowd usually has a good presence and there were some nice Mercedes on hand including a beautiful 600 Pullman car. There is usually a small Porsche contingent, but this show is really a strong one for the Porsche replica crowd. No matter what your take is on replica/kit cars, some of these machines are very nicely done. There is similarly a decent VW contingent, it is dwarfed by any modest VW show. The exceptions for the German crowd are Opel, and Audi. This show brings out a stellar group of cars for these brands. It is always good to see examples of models I have recently covered, and there were several nice Opel Kadetts, an Audi 100, and a stunning DKW 1000. This was in addition to a group of Quattros and more modern Audis. It was also in addition to Opel Mantas, GTs, and a nice Ascona.

For $8, you would be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining and informative vintage auto show.

One Reply to “Carlisle Import 2012”

  1. Dear Wayne:

    Great pictures and great commentary, as usual. I always wanted to own a "Bug Eyes" convertible… Maybe in another life.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

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