Once again, the Carlisle GM Nationals was more fun than I can convey. I know, each year I say that, but I mean it. If you missed the 2022 event, I feel sorry for you. You missed out on a great weekend. On Saturday afternoon, nearly 1,200 cars were registered. Usually, follow-up articles about an event typically talk about what happened, what was there, and what you missed if you didn’t attend. I am not going to do that. Instead, I will limit the article to some of the coolest cars you missed. I know, that still sounds like a slight dig to those of you who decided not to attend, but so be it. The other several thousand of us that did attend had a great time.
Each year, the GM Nationals showcases certain body styles and years to be part of featured displays. This year, those gatherings included the third-gen Camaro, S-10, and the Chevy II. Third-gen owners definitely took advantage of the gathering and filled a large portion of the fairgrounds and all of building T.
According to Carlisle Events’ Public Relations Manager, Mike Garland, “with 1,148 show cars and trucks on the National Parts Depot Showfield, the 2022 iteration of the Carlisle GM Nationals became one of the top-five GM Nationals of all time, dating back to the show’s inception in 2001. Whether the biggest draw was the Featured Display cars or those in the general display is debatable, what’s undeniable is the fun and excitement that everyone had while at the event.”
Carlisle Events knows that some enthusiasts like their show to contain the smell of burning rubber and the excitement of racing so the ever-popular Real Street Shootout Contest presented by UMI Performance once again filled the air with the sounds of performance.
Although Friday started out a little overcast, that didn’t stop a large contingent of GM enthusiasts from bringing their cars. Saturday, the sun was out and although it was hot, everyone still had a good time. But enough about the general happenings at the show, this article is about the cars. So, without further ado, here are a few of the coolest rides I saw and wanted to actually take home with me.
Going Green At The GM Nationals
Ronald Oteri found his ’72 Vega at the Carlisle show way back in 2011. It already had the small-block under the hood, but the paint needed help and many of the mechanical aspects were not up to par with what you might call a safe driver. Ronald didn’t care, and began working to correct all the deficiencies and now has one unbelievably cool pint-sized hot rod. Some of those needed repairs included a cut and buff on the paint and some much-needed improvements to the seriously unsafe steering.
The green paint is sure to grab your attention, and once you notice the Vega is all business under the hood, it’s sure to be one of your favorites as well. In fact, I chose it as my Celebrity Pick. Stay tuned for a full feature in the near future.
Finally Captured Memory
We all have a memory of a car that got us hooked on the hobby. For William Brown, it all stems back to this little Deuce. When he was but a lad in high school, he had the opportunity to purchase this very car. Unfortunately, his brother explained the car was one of the fastest in the neighborhood and mom quickly said no way.
William never forgot about the Nova and actually kept tabs on its location. That paid off, and he was eventually able to purchase the ride. You wouldn’t know it, but the black paint is the same paint that was on the car when he first laid eyes on it 40-some years ago. The car looks great and has a great story so stay tuned as we show you more of the car in a full feature.
If you like your classic ride to be comfortable and eye-catching, then you want a car with some meat on its bones. Although the first-gen Monte Carlo seems to get all the accolades, the second-gen models can also make seriously cool hot rods. Just ask Jack Cooper. His ’77 model looks as good in pictures as it does in person.
The Firethorn Metallic paint looks better than ever, and the color-keyed interior is nearly flawless. It might not be a powerhouse with its 305 engine and Turbo 350 transmission, but you can bet that Jack has just as much fun as anyone else on the cruise-in scene.
World’s Smallest RV?
On the other end of the size spectrum is Tim Morgan’s ’76 Cosworth Vega. While the Vega is a compact car not designed with any performance features, the Cosworth influence initiated by John DeLorean did put a little pep in the H-body’s step. The Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC) engine is 122 cubic inches with an aluminum, 16-valve cylinder head.
As cool as the Cosworth model is on its own, it was the addition of the “hatch/hutch tent” option that caught my eye. According to an early Vega ad, with the addition of a tent-like camper, you can turn your Vega into an economy camper wherever you go.
Get Your Motion On
What many might call the King of the second-gen Camaro is the Motion model. This ’72 was purchased new by John White of Ahoskie, North Carolina. Behind the adrenaline-filled 454 is a manually shifted Turbo 400 and 4.10-geared 12-bolt rear.
All Baldwin-Motion sales promotion materials announced a simple guarantee. “We think so much of our Phase III Supercars that we guarantee they will turn at least 120 mph in 11.50 seconds or better with an M/P-approved driver on an AHRA or NHRA-sanctioned drag strip. Phase III Supercars are completely streetable, reliable machines that will run these times off the street.” The promotion encouraged owners to try and dispute the fact, but not one car was ever returned for lack of power.
This one was prominently displayed in the Solid-Lifter building at the show, and kudos go to Scott McKendry of Sanford, North Carolina for the flawless restoration.
The 2022 Carlisle GM Nationals is in the books, and I am already making my plans for next year when the show returns on June 23 and 24 2023. Make sure to plan a trip to the 2023 show as you’ll be hard-pressed to find another one as cool as this one.