2016 Spring Carlisle: Classic Cars, Parts, and Mud.

Guest Bloggers

Guest Bloggers | May 10, 2016

By Jim Travers

The annual Spring Carlisle automotive swap meet, auction, car corral, and mud festival could be described as five days of either gear head heaven or hell, depending on your point of view.

There’s no word on whether this $1,000 ’52 Nash still runs, and we weren’t about to look under the hood to find out. (Jim Travers)

With 8,100 vending spaces and other events spread out over 82 acres of the Carlisle Fairgrounds in the middle of the Pennsylvania heartland, the purchasing opportunities for all things old and automotive are staggering. So are many of the attendees, between the sheer size of the place and being weighed down with a ’56 Ford differential or some other hard to find and cumbersome hunk of rust.

As the story goes, this 1968 Shelby GT350 emerged from a 25-year snooze in a Costa Rican barn just days before its Carlisle appearance. It sold almost immediately for $60,000, subtropical grime and all. (Jim Travers)

Whatever you’re looking for, the chances are it’s here somewhere. The challenge is to find it. A throwback to another time, Carlisle is not computerized for your convenience. Google maps will not guide you to a taillight lens for a ’66 Chrysler, and there’s nary a bar code reader in sight.

Merchandising 101: One trusting if not overly ambitious vendor retreated to his camper to avoid the rain. At least he left detailed instructions for customers. (Jim Travers)

The only way to find what you’re after is to dig. Most vendors either spread their wares out on tarps, hang them from their trucks, or just spread out of boxes for attendees to root through while the shopkeeper relaxes with an Old Milwaukee or six. But if the vendor is around and conscious, chances are they know exactly what they have and where it is.

The Car Corral is the place to find that classic car of your dreams. As a bonus, it is spread out over a gigantic hill so you can work off some of that funnel cake you're bound to end up eating. (Jim Travers)

Carlisle is worth a visit even if you’re not in the classic car hobby. The people watching and dining opportunities alone are worth the trip. Just make sure to bring your foul weather gear, because rain is as much of a time-honored tradition as is the funnel cake on the midway.

(Jim Travers)

For a full schedule of car-related events at Carlisle, go to www.carlisleevents.com.

Vintage toys are another option at Carlisle, and maybe a more sensible alternative to the real thing. (Jim Travers)
(Jim Travers)
"Valve cover gasket for a '59 Pontiac? No problem. Kidney? Got one here somewhere..." (Jim Travers)
Tasty funnel cake is sort of like a giant clump of doughnut, and is a dietary staple at Carlisle. Many vendors peddle the stuff right alongside those selling actual funnels. From a nutritional  standpoint, you might be better off with the latter. (Betty Ming Liu)
The “shine” referenced here is not the kind you can see your reflection in. The seller assured us this North Carolina Ford was once used to transport shine of the moon variety, a practice he says continues today. (Jim Travers)
Veteran visitors know you’ve got to bring a shopping cart or wagon to Carlisle. Entrepreneurial types even use theirs to list either what they’ve got for sale, or what they’re looking for. (Betty Ming Liu)
Though you won't catch the real pros dragging around a mere grocery cart. (Jim Travers)
The rain had washed out part of the price, but it looked like this ’56 Olds could be yours for $1200 or $1500. A bargain either way, you’d  just have to install the bumpers yourself. And do a few other things. (Jim Travers)
 Merchandising 104: We’re done. Which way to the beer tent? (Jim Travers)
Seems like good advice. (Jim Travers)
In need of a weekend of two’s worth of work, the sign said this ’57 Ford Thunderbird still ran. You should, too. $8,750 or best offer. (Jim Travers) 
Even the vegetables are fried at this swap meet. (Betty Ming Liu)
Patina! (Jim Travers)
We found it! A rust-free car! (Betty Ming Liu)
There is pretty much one of everything here... You just have to find it. (Jim Travers)

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One