Event Coverage: Welcome To The 2016 GM Nationals In Carlisle, PA

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When it comes to throwing an all-encompassing party for automotive enthusiasts, the staff of Carlisle Events in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, make it look easy. Each year, they play host to numerous events, but when we made our way to the 2016 GM Nationals in earlier this month, we had no idea what to expect.

The sun is shining, we’re surrounded by nothing but General Motors. How could it be any better?” – Joe Hillman

We had heard that rain plagued last year’s event, so the thought was in our minds that it could happen again, because of the time of year. We really lucked out, as the weather couldn’t have been nicer. What we found at this three-day event was an unbelievable gathering of all things General Motors. Although we’re not shy about being hardcore Chevy guys, the overwhelming presence that the General’s products made in this small town was something everyone should see. We mean it, if you couldn’t make it to the show this year, you really need to make plans to attend the event next year, as this is definitely one of the premier “General-centric” shows in the country!

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If you can’t find something that catches your attention at the Carlisle GM Nationals, we don’t know what to tell you.

Unfortunately, the weatherman is not a car enthusiast, and he did allow some rainy conditions to dampen the ground on Thursday. While the weather did seem to keep away those wanting to set up early, the weather on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday could not have been nicer. In fact, there were just slightly less than 25,000 people that walked through the gate and will surely agree with us. One of the spectators we spoke with, Joe Hillman, said it best, “The sun is shining, we’re surrounded by nothing but General Motors. How could it be any better?”

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Lou and Alice Noplos brought their gorgeous Medium Gold ’70 Super Sport. The car features power steering, power-assisted disc brakes, air conditioning, and an AM/FM/eight-track stereo. This is definitely one cool cruiser.

Something For Everyone

Attending an event of this magnitude can leave you feeling overwhelmed, but if you are not sure if you will “fit in” at the Carlisle GM Nationals, you need not worry. Fitting in is one of the great things about this show, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of vintage or modern iron, Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile, or even Cadillac, you will find enough interesting stuff at the event to keep your attention.

The proof is in the pudding, as the National Parts Depot-sponsored show field was filled with 1,000 classic, modern, and vintage Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac offerings. Like we said, there was something for everyone. According to Mike Garland of Carlisle Events, “As a whole, we were very happy with the event’s turnout. The guests we heard from that attended loved it, too. The variety and history that was showcased was great.”

For those of you who are worried that your wife might get bored and want to leave early, the Carlisle gang has a remedy for that – the Women’s Oasis — an area dedicated to the fairer sex, and filled with amazing vendors selling items such as jewelry and accessories, handmade crafts, and beauty products. And ladies, if the stress of your husband buying too much stuff is getting to you, there are massages, seminars, and special services also offered by vendors.

We had to take a second look at this '68 Nova. The car is clean, came with a running but replaceable six-cylinder engine, and the asking price was a negotiable $9,500.

Nothing Stationary Here

Not only is the GM Nationals a huge car show, but the folks at Carlisle also realize that there are those enthusiasts that would rather test their cars in a performance setting, so with the help of UMI Performance, those enthusiasts could buckle up in their car for a little autocross action. If you were like us, and not able to take a car of your own, you were still in luck, as UMI had several cars on hand with an open passenger’s seat to ride along with their drivers.

If you didn't have a car at the event, you could strap into the passenger seat of a UMI-prepped car for a lap or two around the autocross course.

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If you like your car show to have some action, the GM Nationals and UMI Performance were delivering.

When you attend the Carlisle event, you really need to plan an extended stay, as there is so much to see. We were there to meet as many people as possible, check out the cars on the show field, and hit the swap meet.

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Just a few of the vehicles in the car corral waiting for new owners to find them.

The Cream Of The Crop

We get to see a lot of great-looking Chevy’s throughout the year, but the way that Carlisle Events sets up the show, you’ll get to see cars that never really get out of their respective collections very often. For starters, name one other place that you can travel and see Yenko, Motion, ZL1, Hurst-equipped Oldsmobiles, and everything performance that dominate the ‘60s and ‘70s. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to cover much of the swap meet, but we did talk to several folks who did and found what they needed. Historically, the swap meet is filled with new, used, and NOS parts; memorabilia; collectibles; and even literature. If it is GM-related, you’ll find it at the GM Nationals swap meet.

We were instantly pulled to building Y, the new home of The Solid-Lifter Showroom. Presented by our friends at the Super Car Workshop, Brian and the guys always put on a great display, and even though they were in a new building this year, the cars were awesome. As expected, we found a building filled to capacity with exceptionally rare and beautiful high-performance GM cars from the musclecar era.

The Solid-Lifter Showroom was home to rare and exotic pieces of iron. Look for upcoming features on both of these cars.

When it came to learning about GM’s late-model drivetrains, there were a couple of different seminars to attend. Paul Koerner is well-known in the Corvette world for his in-depth knowledge of anything Corvette and is hailed as one of the most knowledgeable mechanics in the GM world. That means he can offer troubleshooting advice for many GM vehicles. He’s not a poser, as he received his GM Service Technician status in 1997, and has been at it ever since. Still not sure he is the guy to help? He also received the title of GM World Class Certified Technician in 2007. The first seminar he conducted was “Generation-V Small-Blocks: Facts and Fiction,” and his second seminar was “Generation III and IV Small-Block Engines.” Talk about a wealth of information, Paul has it.

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Jeffrey Henry brought his wild and great-looking ’66 Chevelle to the show, and it was one of our favorites. You can see more of this car in the gallery of this article.

So ends our trip around the 2016 GM Nationals. If you were fortunate enough to attend the event, you no doubt saw things that will remain with you forever, and for those of you that were unable to make the show, start making plans now, as the 2017 show will take place June 16-18. We will see you there, right?

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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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