June 6, 2000

Carlisle Import Nationals (May 19 - 21, 2000)
Text and photos by George Achorn

The Carlisle Import Kit/Replicar Nationals happens to be one of the most unique and all-encompassing shows on the summer show calendar. For the last several years this event has played venue to an Import Show, Kit/Replicar Show and Custom Compact Show all over the span of a three-day weekend.

Carlisle Productions plays host at its own facility in Carlisle, PA. The considerable size of the grounds provides a backdrop more feature-filled than any other enthusiast show we know of. On site dynos, immense swap meet vendor area, used car corral, show halls, seminars, campsites, dealer new car display tents, car wash area, non-judged show fields, judged show fields and more comprise the main draws to attendees. Perhaps the only weakness to Carlisle is its lack of either drag strip or paved parking lot large enough for an on site autocross. Were there a large racecourse around it, then it might be perfect.

Unfortunately, though somewhat typically, the weather proved to be less than perfect this year with threatening skies and periodic showers the bulk of the three-day weekend. Mud was everywhere, though most cars were presented spotlessly save the few Impreza owners going for that Rally Car look.

The non-judged import area plays host to the most eclectic collection of cars. Vintage rarities seemingly come out of nowhere. While Audi was somewhat ill-represented in this section, with nary an Ur-quattro in sight, ex-marques of Audi were not. Two NSU club members made a showing in their ultra-rare cars.

An owner from the Pittsburgh area had a TT version of the NSU Prinz. If Audi ever had a spiritual equivalent to the 2002, it may have been the NSU TT. These rear-engined two-door sedans were fairly hardcore for their time, backed with a factory NSU performance parts program. This rather square car is the predecessor, at least in name, and perhaps even partial inspiration for today's Audi TT.

The other NSU to make an appearance was the Wankel rotary engine equipped RO80. This somewhat odd-looking car with its twin rotor engine design was good for about 114hp and much more refined than preceding rotary units that had come from NSU in its heyday.

While the NSU TT graced the import area with its presence, several Audi TT coupes could be found down among the vendors. Two silver coupes with varying degrees of modification were parked under separate vendor tents, though surprisingly there were none up in the judged show field.

Several A4 sedans were presented on the judged show field and varying from near stock to heavily modified. A sole blue Coupe GT that also had extensive modifications joined them.

The BMWCCA was also present in large numbers. Some truly well executed 2002s showed up in large numbers as did a range of other older cars. A handful of cleanly modified newer cars were also on hand including a Z3M and some fine examples of the newest 3-series.

Other imports were there in larger numbers. Volkswagens made a big showing with a few examples of the new B-platform Passat. Hondas, Acuras, Neons etc attended in the largest number within the Compact Car show area. Many of these cars ranged from high-performance racers to all-show trailer queens.

The compact area is Carlisle's largest growing demographic and because of this the Compact Car Power Jam will get its own weekend next year. It would make sense then that Carlisle will market next year's Import Auto Show more heavily toward brands like Audi, BMW, Volvo etc.

With few Audi shows on the East coast summer show calendar, it would seem this show will soon take off as Audiphiles multiply along with the brand's record sales. Perhaps next year we can rival the turnout numbers by others like BMW and yes, even Citroen.


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