Planning months ahead for those major events is still no guarantee that Mother Nature won’t have a say in how the event goes overall. Such was the case with the 2023 GM Nationals at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. On the two days of the event when all GM vehicles were destined to convene on the Carlisle Fairgrounds, the skies opened up and decided to feed the green grass that lines the miles of aisles throughout the grounds.
Enthusiasts are a hearty bunch and many made the trip to enjoy the event during the intermittent dry spells throughout the weekend. Both Friday and Saturday were sprinkled with liquid sunshine in between overcast skies and sunny fun and frolic. We spent plenty of time walking this year’s GM Nationals and can say that the Bowtie brand was well represented.
While there were plenty of GM vehicles on-hand throughout the entire weekend to keep any enthusiast happy, we found several Chevys that stood out to us for one reason or another. We spent some time speaking with the owners and we’ll be showing you much more of each car in the following months. But for now, here’s a quick peek at just some of the Chevrolet-branded vehicles that were on hand during the event.
Tim Powell’s 1960 Bel Air
It was very much like a moth to a flame when we saw Tim Powell pulling onto the show field with his 1960 Bel Air. There is just so much to like about this car. It has the perfect stance, a nice set of meaty tires, and that classic, early-60s styling. The more we talked with Tim about his car, the more we liked it. He explained that when he first saw it, he liked it so much he decided to sell his pro-street pickup truck so he could purchase it! We think he made a great choice and you’ll be reading more about Tim and his Bel Air in an upcoming feature.
Brad Lauver’s 1970 Chevrolet Kingswood Estate
We can remember when Chevrolet station wagons such as Brad Lauver’s 1970 Kingswood Estate were overlooked due to being thought of as thirsty, uncool, utilitarian family movers. Once considered the economical way to haul a growing family and its furniture, or any plywood necessary to complete a weekend chore, these long-roof variants with convertible compartments are now considered very cool. Maybe that’s because so many enthusiasts remember riding in the back-facing, third-row seating; playing with the rear window glass, and waving to other drivers. There’s also that cool, dual-swing tailgate that allows for easier loading of both lumber and passengers.
While no GM wagons came from the factory with a console and bucket seats, the upgraded units in this car definitely give it a performance touch and look so good that GM probably should have offered them when these cars were new. Brad’s wonderfully-wood-grained wagon also has the added performance of an LS1 engine to help miser out the fuel rationing along those long drives.
Barney Tuttle’s 1964 C10 Pickup
When we saw Barney Tuttle’s Gold 1964 C10, we knew this little pickup truck was pretty cool. When we spoke with Barney and he told us more about his truck, things just kept getting better. Rather than opt for the almost-cliché LS-swap, Barney’s ride uses the tried-and-true L98 Tune-Port Injected engine. While not known for spinning high-horsepower RPM, the torquey Tune-Port works well with the five-speed overdrive transmission installed in the vehicle. Barney confesses that he doesn’t race his C10, but instead bought it to be driven on the highway, which he does regularly around his Myrtle Beach, South Carolina home.
There are several modest touches to Barney’s truck that make it perfect for us, that stance and meaty tires are just the beginning. The fact that he drives it often is just icing on the cake. We caught up with Barney right after one of the rain storms and with a quick wipe down, he had his truck ready to go get some pictures. We’ll do a full feature on his truck so you can experience it to the fullest.
Steve Motichka’s 1964 Biscayne
Rolling up on Steve’s 1964 Biscayne, we knew immediately there was more to this car than meets the eye. The unassuming exterior of the car gives no hint as to what lurks underneath that barn-aged surface. In a time when “barn finds” are all the rage, Steve’s car exemplifies this genre because it truly is one. He knows this for a fact because his mother-in-law is the one that placed it in a barn over 50 years ago!
But that’s just half the coolness of Steve’s Biscayne. One look under the hood and all that 409 greatness hits you square in the eye sockets. What’s more, keen eyes will note the hydro-boost brake system residing off to the side of that unmistakable valve cover. This car has all the goods and while Steve didn’t blow the budget on exterior eye-candy, the car is built to enjoy, which is exactly what Steve is doing with it.
Greg Wedemeyer’s 1969 SS 396 Chevelle
It’s hard to argue with a big-block 1969 Chevelle, and Greg Wedemeyer’s SS 396-equipped drop-top clicked all the buttons for us. Greg kept so much of that classic styling that made these cars the darling of so many enthusiasts over the years, but he also made upgrades that simply make such a great car – better. Greg’s drop-top now features a five-speed overdrive and a tilt column, greatly improving the driving experience.
Greg wasn’t a slave to the restoration manual but knew exactly what styling cues to keep, and when to unobtrusively infuse upgrades. This 1969 SS 396 Chevelle is a tasteful blend of old and new, and that’s why we felt it was one of the sweetest Chevys at this year’s Carlisle GM Nationals.
Bob Topinka’s 1966 Chevy Caprice
If you’re the type of person who feels the best modifications are the ones you may never notice, then Bob Topinka’s 1966 Chevy Caprice is your type of automobile. There are obvious changes such as the wheels and white-letter tires, but that’s just the low-hanging fruit with this Caprice. Ingenuity and talent come together for a plethora of modifications that you’ll likely never notice unless Bob points them out to you. Take our word for it, there are a lot!
While that 390-horsepower 427 may look right at home in the engine bay of Bob’s Caprice, it’s got way more than the advertised 390 ponies and 427 cubic inches. The beauty is that Bob went to great lengths to make all that additional goodness look oh-so-factory appearing. There are so many things that Bob did to his Caprice that you’ll never notice. That’s why we will be doing a complete feature on this car, so we can bring you some of the unseen things that make this car a standout, without standing out.
Make Plans For The 2024 Carlisle GM Nationals
One of the great things about events such as the Carlisle GM Nationals is that if you are a fan of any brand within the GM lineup, there’s something for you. The Carlisle Events staff makes sure to include both past and present members of the GM family. Even though the skies didn’t cooperate as much as we would have liked, the Chevrolet brand was well-represented at this year’s somewhat soggy event.
We spent time with each of these cars’ owners and look for a feature of each of them in the future. We think they are all incredible in their own right and well deserving of the designation as some highlights of the event. Of course, spending time with fellow enthusiasts and sharing the Bowtie passion is what events like this are all about. Make sure to mark your calendars for next year’s Carlisle GM Nationals being held on June 21 and 22, 2024. We’ll be sure to make our appearance and if we’re lucky, so will the sunshine. See you there!