America is a V-8, rear wheel-drive country. Historically, this has distinguished our nation from all others around the world. So when World War II veterans returned to these shores with jaunty runabouts from the British Isles, Detroit took notice and applied their American brand of engineering to the concept behind these sports cars. One of the products of that era, the Chevrolet Corvette, has endured to become America’s sports car.
Carlisle Events knows what it’s like - they’ve been hosting the Corvettes at Carlisle show for 31 years already. It’s the largest Corvette event in the world, featuring over 5,000 Y-bodies spanning all generations. There’s also a huge swap meet, a car corral, Manufacturers’ Midway and Installation Alley, autocross, dyno testing, and burnouts - all on 82 acres - plus a parade through historic downtown Carlisle. It’s a Mecca for Corvette fans, and it’s almost too much to take in even in person. What follows is just a taste of the full Carlisle Experience…
An Open Door Policy
There is a perception of the Corvette hobby being ruled by a bunch of men removing pebbles from their tire treads. Certainly, the purists at Bloomington Gold have set a high standard for originality that is felt beyond the Corvette world, but Corvettes at Carlisle shows that the hobby is about more than better-than-showroom perfection. Modified Corvettes from all generations are present, from pro touring C1’s to “tuner” late models, and all points in between. In the Corvette world, it’s a big tent and everyone’s invited.
Five Decades Later
It’s been 50 years since the C1 took its final bow. It also was the first year for the upgraded small block, the 327. To commemorate, there was a tent full of 1962 Corvettes with interesting histories.
1960-61 marked some visual changes in the evolution of the Corvette. The grille went from chrome teeth to a mesh affair, and the smooth rump of 1958-60 was sculpted into the “ducktail” style that would continue into the next generation.
From Big Block Glory to Smogged and Slow
The end of the line for the C3 was in 1982. It was the swan song for a Corvette generation that had gone from being the car that astronauts drove to one better known for style than performance. From this point forward, things were going to get better for the Corvette, but that didn’t mean you couldn’t have fun and put your Vette in its proper place, as evidenced by this 1980 version below with sidepipes and likely more. Fast-forward 20 years and this Lingenfelter Corvette could make you forget the dark days ever existed.
The Connecticut town of Old Lyme, situated between New Haven and Providence, Rhode Island, may be the most important Corvette location outside of Bowling Green. This is the home of the operations of Callaway Cars. Reeves Callaway started out turboing BMW 3-series cars. This led to working with Alfa Romeo to turbo their GTV6, which caught General Motors’ attention. A prototype was authorized and, in June 1986, a 345-horse Vette was presented to GM and the media. That was the impetus for RPO B2K, the twin-turbo Corvette.
A Favorite with Tuners
Joel Rosen’s Motion Performance, in conjunction with Baldwin (Long Island, New York) Chevrolet, was known for creating the ultimate Corvette supercars. None were present at Carlisle, but that doesn’t stop current hobbyists from being influenced by Motion.
Commerce at Carlisle
Out in the car corral, you had your pick of any Corvette from any generation in any condition for any price.
Some cars needed more TLC than others…
The Corvette has the advantage of being a Chevrolet, so finding parts at the swap meet can be an easy endeavor in comparison to more obscure American cars.
Cream of the Crop
In Building T you could find the Chip’s Choice Display. Who is Chip? The late Chip Miller was one of the guys who founded Carlisle Events. His love of Corvettes was greater than any other car, so this invitational is done in his honor.
A Different Kind of “Barn Find”
In the old John Deere dealership one could find the NCRS Gallery. This invitational features the crème de la crème of Corvettes.
Community as well as Cars
Saturday evening was the parade through the city of Carlisle. What’s so great about the parade is that Carlisle residents come out en mass in the heart of the historic district. Afterwards, a family friendly street party develops with bands replacing the sound of side pipes.
A Corvette Lover’s Must-See
If you’ve never been to Corvettes at Carlisle, you need to add it to your bucket list of events any true Y-body fan has to attend at least once. For total immersion in the Corvette experience, it’s a show that is hard to top. America’s love affair with their home-grown sports car gets a new honeymoon every year, and there’s no sign of that ever stopping.