09/04/13 11:57AM All Nationals. Car Shows, Chryslers, Dodge, Events, Plymouth

All Star Chrysler Nationals

The 32nd Annual Carlisle All-Chrysler Nationals

by Brandies Elitch -- Wild About Cars

If you collect Chrysler products, or just admire them, All-Chryslers at Carlisle is something you need to do at least once.  If it’s not the largest gathering of Chrysler products I don’t know what is.  This year there were 2400 vehicles on display and 2700 vendor spaces.  But before I describe the show, I want to give you an historical perspective on how it came to be, because it is a pretty interesting story.

We have to start with the forerunner of this and every other similar show: the Antique Automobile Club of America, Hershey Region, Annual Fall Meet, commonly known as “Hershey.”  At the 1973 Hershey, two men named Chip Miller and Bill Miller Jr. (not related) took at 1954 Corvette to be displayed at the Milestone Car Society booth.  The officials asked them to remove it because it was not 25 years old.  This must have been pretty annoying. 

Chip and Bill realized that this rule was excluding a lot of people and cars and decided to do something about it.  In 1974 they rented the Carlisle fairgrounds, about a half hour drive away, and put no restrictions on what could be shown or sold. They held the meet the week before Hershey, so many people came for Carlisle and just stayed through Hershey. 

By 1980, Carlisle was a sellout and they had to turn people away, but the next year they were able to buy the 82 acre fairgrounds and ultimately tailor it specifically for car shows, with paved roads, bathrooms, a stage, and ten buildings.  It was so popular that they started a Spring Carlisle, but even this did not satisfy the demand, so they added specific monthly shows for Corvette, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Truck, and Imports.  Now, Carlisle Events produces 17 events, covering five cities and three states, 11 of which are at Carlisle.  The All-Chrysler Nationals event is held in July.

And that brings us to this year’s event.  The kickoff was held Thursday night at the local Dodge dealer (www.moparrebellion.com).  Drag racing was held Friday night at the 1/8 mile NHRA sanctioned Quarter Aces Drag-o-Way.  There was a special display in an old dealership called the Max Wedge Reunion.  Arlen Vanke was scheduled to appear but unfortunately took ill, but Roger Lindamood was there with his 63 Plymouth and 64 Dodge, and there were 19 other  Max Wedge ‘62 and ‘63 Dodges and Plymouths. 

For me, the highlight was the Ramchargers Reunion, with members of the original group being interviewed and signing autographs.  I took the glovebox door off my ’68 Dart to have it autographed by Tom Hoover (“Father of the Hemi,” Tom Coddington, Mike Buckel, Al Adam, John Wehrly, Dave Rockwell, and Dick Skoglund.  Mike is a great storyteller, and he mentioned that they are in discussions with a movie producer to make a film about the Ramchargers, and boy is it a great story, definitely worthy of a full length feature film!

It was also a thrill to meet “Mr. Norm” Krause at his booth and get his autograph too.  Mr. Norm is a legend to Chrysler collectors, and his dealership, Grand Spaulding Dodge in Chicago, was the epicenter of Mopar high performance activities in the sixties.  Go to www.mrnorms.com and you will see just how important Mr. Norm was to the Chrysler community. 

If you go to the website for Schumacher Creative Enterprises  (www.engine-swaps.com) you will see that they make a kit to make a Mr. Norm replica GSS 68 Dart by installing a 440 block and Torqueflite, and I am about to begin such a project right now.  One of the best things about Carlisle is that you can find all the vendors who sell an amazing amount of original and reproduction restoration parts, materials, and services, and the only way you would find them is to go to a meet like this.

Some other features of this meet are:

  • A Mopar Survivors display, featuring all original and unrestored cars (at least 85% original)
  • An Invitational Display of particularly rare or noteworthy cars
  • Dyno testing via a mobile dyno
  • An Autocross and Ride-Along featuring the Hotchkis suspension
  • An artwork display by noted automotive artist David Snyder

After 32 years of putting on this event, it has reached a standard of excellence that few other meets of this type can match.  Now I am wondering if I should attend any of the other Carlisle events, because I do have cars from other manufacturers, but for me the July meet is the favorite.

a 440 'Cuda on display at the All- Chrysler Nationals

A 1962 Dodge 413 at the Max Wedge Reunion

A 1962 413 Plymouth at the Max wedge Reunion

The Ramchargers Reunion what a treat !

An all original 1963 Plymouth Fury at the Mopar survivors display

A 1968 Hemi Super Bee at the swap meet -- Yumee!