Five Of The Coolest Cars From The 2020 Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals

Each year, the folks at Carlisle Events host a multitude of car-centric happenings. The shows are attended by people from all over the world. This year, the occurrence of those events were placed in jeopardy. We’re certain that all of you are aware the 2020 Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals was almost nixed for this year.

The impending closure was big news for several days immediately preceding the event. While certain government entities tried to force the Carlisle Events team to cancel the event, the show was ultimately able to go as planned. Sure, prescribed COVID-19 safety protocols were put in place, but they were not able to dampen the atmosphere at this yearly gathering.

Among the scheduled events like the UMI Performance autocross, swap meet, and loud exhaust competition, there was a sea of unbelievably cool hot rods. While some were featured vehicles in the buildings, most were gathering in the vast showfield area. But, if you were not able to make it to this year’s show, first, shame on you. You missed a great time. However, we’re not ones to be stingy, and we would really like to show all of the great cars from the show, but that would be impossible. But, to give you guys a taste of what was at this two-day event, here are five cars we felt were some of the coolest at the gathering.

chevrolet nationals

This thing is amazing. It could be heard from one end of the 82-acre fairground to the other.

Justin Gannon’s Blown ‘71 Chevelle

If a big-block-powered Chevelle with a blower poking through the hood doesn’t get your blood pumping, the color on Justin Gannon’s ’71 should. It is a House of Kolor Candy Apple that has been sprayed over a silver base. We could not find a run in the paint or a blemish anywhere. This thing was immaculate.

Under — and through — the hood is a Shafiroff-built monster of an engine guzzling insane amounts or E85. Behind that, you’ll find a reverse shifted Turbo 400.

The inside is definitely a work of art. Looking like a basic restomod, the car is anything but. With a leather-wrapped dash, Auto Meter gauges, and faux alligator skin appointments, this is one cool cockpit.

Day-Two Hot Rod

If you want to talk about a cool hot rod, Ben Spotts’ ’69 Nova has coolness in spades. Ben and his father began working on the car when Ben was old enough to hold a piece of sandpaper. That was many years ago, and it has been a great learning experience for the younger Spotts.

Chevrolet Nationals

Old school: Cragars and ladder bars make this a true day-two hot rod.

The car was found sitting next to a house in 2002 and had been sitting because it was involved in an accident that saw the front sheetmetal receive some seriously unwanted modifications. At one time, a small block gave the car its motivation. Now, a 427-cube big-block sports 11.0:1 compression, a “mild” hydraulic cam, and the in-your-face tunnel ram with twin Holley 600s. Behind that are a Muncie four-speed and a 12-bolt rear with 3.55 gears.

Inside is all Nova OE. In fact, in front of the recovered seats is the AM radio. There is no need for any annoying sound coming from speakers when you can hear a big block at full song.

Fine First-Gen

We don’t care how many first-gen Camaros you have seen, but you have never seen one like Mark Sagrantz’s. Mark’s modernization of this ’69 Camaro defies conventional design. Take for instance the custom, contoured side glass. If that doesn’t surprise you, the reverse-opening hood with electric actuators will.

Chevrolet Nationals

This is a car you really needed to see in person. As nice as it looks in pictures, it’s an amazing car in real life.

Under that hood is 598 cubic inches of Shafiroff-built tire-melting power. Allowing Mike to make his own gear choices is a TREMEC gearbox sending the power to a 9-inch rear with 4.10 gears.

A look inside greets you with a one-off interior that forces you to give it a second look. Mounted in the custom-formed dash is a set of Dakota Digital gauges, and all electronic controls are hidden within the console. Mark told us his friends suggested he cover the upper dash in leather, but we think it looks great the way it is.

Terrific Tri-Five

When it comes to building the perfect Tri-Five, there is no wrong way to do it. They are a great platform for any upgrade, and the original design is timeless. Robert May definitely agrees and has a seriously cool ’56.

Chevrolet Nationals

We’ve never seen a bad looking Tri-Five, but Robert went above and beyond with his build.

Under the hood is a small block 350 with aluminum heads, an Edelbrock intake, and FAST electronic fuel injection. Behind that is a column-shifted 700R4 to make those cruising miles enjoyable. While the under-hood area is clean and simple, the interior is a modern work of art.

For starters, Robert says the front seats are 8-way power units that he grabbed from a late-model Cadillac and then modified. While the cockpit does resemble the factory delivered style, the custom console, modern seats, leather, and Dakota Digital VHX gauges create a 21st-century feel.

Bronze Bully

If you’re a fan of second-gen Camaros — and who isn’t — Jim Seprish’s ’79 Z/28 is right up your alley. Jim told us he bought this car and had to replace the floor from the firewall to the rear bumper. What’s more, he did it before those parts were available from the aftermarket. That means he found a car in a salvage yard and carefully removed the floors and reinstalled them in his car. As great as it looks, horsepower junkies will definitely want to know more about what’s under the hood.

Chevrolet Nationals

With 496 cubic inches of get-up-and-go, Jim says he really does have power to burn. We didn’t ask him how much power the mill makes, but we’re certain it is a more-than-respectable number. Behind the powerplant is a Turbo 400 actuated by a vintage Hurst Dual-Gate shifter mounted within the console.

A quick look inside does reveal a few minor tweaks, but not so many the interior loses its factory appearance. In fact, the seats are stock, but Jim had holes cut in the upper portions to accommodate the shoulder straps from the five-point harnesses. We asked Jim about quarter-mile times, but unfortunately, the engine is so new, he hasn’t had time to get it to the track yet.

There you have it, a small portion of the cars that were enjoying the great weather and great show. If made it to the show this year or even if you missed it, Now is the time to start making plans to attend the 2021 Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals on June 25 and 26.

2020 Chevrolet Nationals Recap

The 2020 Chevrolet Nationals have come and gone, but we had a great time! Relive some highlights from the event with us.

Posted by Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals on Wednesday, July 1, 2020

About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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