Car Show Classics: 2018 Carlisle Ford Nationals – Part One

As an adult, my dad and I have rarely had the opportunity to travel together alone. Both of us lead busy lives and we’ve just never made it happen.  I have always wanted to do a car related trip with my dad, especially since we both love cars and love to drive.  So this Christmas, I decided to take the bull by the horns and plan a trip as a surprise for my Dad.

I have long heard how great the car show/swap meets are in Carlisle, PA, but I have never gone.   While I would prefer seeing a show with all brands, rather than something brand centric, I suppose these brand specific car shows often bring some more unique and interesting vehicles.  I had read that 2018 Carlisle all Ford Show was celebrating 50 years of Torino, and decided this would be the perfect trip for Dad and I to embark on.  I figured this would be a rare opportunity for me to see a large gathering of Torinos along with lots of other high quality and unique Fords.

I didn’t get any shots, but this painting is of an area we drove through.

On Thursday May 31st, Dad and I set off for Carlisle.  We crossed the border rather uneventfully at Ford Erie and travelled on through upper New York State.  Once we crossed over into northern Pennsylvania, we ended up having a scenic trip on route 15.   The forests and foothills that lined the highway were lush and green and the roads were smooth and well maintained.  Eventually continued on south towards the Harrisburg Area where we found our accommodations in Camp Hill, PA.

The next two days we spend exploring the fair grounds at Carlisle. For those who have never been, the car shows at Carlisle are huge, but very well-organized.   There is lots of parking around the site grounds, with people/businesses charging small fees to park on private property.  We went early and were able to get a spot in a school parking lot right next to one of the gates.  The grounds themselves are divided into several areas.  There are sections dedicated to the swap meet, the car show, cars for sale, vendors and there are several buildings on site.  The buildings have additional vendors, and some higher end or feature cars.  There were other activities too, including autocross events, burnout contests, car related celebrity autographs (Dave Kindig was one of the celebrities this year), and new car test drives offered by Ford.  There is a ton of stuff to see and do, and even with the two days we spent, we didn’t see everything.

There were so many Mustangs, they were even had colour matched sections.  This was the “red” section.

I ended up taking hundreds of photos of cars from the show. There were a lot of really cool finds that I hope the CC readers enjoy.   I have one disclaimer though. While the car show is “all Fords” I should point out that it seems to be at least half Mustang (maybe more).  There are a ton of Mustangs at this show, and a huge number of them are late-model cars.  While I generally like Mustangs, I see them all the time so I can’t say I spent much time in the Mustang sections.  Further, Dad and I are far more interested in older cars, not late-model stuff, so we basically skipped most of the late-model cars. So my photos are more focused on other vintage Fords.

I am going to document this show over a series of articles that will be pretty photo centric. For the first part in this series, we are going to look at the full-size Fords, or the standards. Dad and I have always had a big interest in the so-called “standards” from the Big 3, so we really enjoyed looking at these Fords.   We found examples from the 1950’s to the late 1980’s.  I tried to organize the photos in chronological order, and provided detail on some cars of specific interest.  I hope you enjoy!

1950-54 Ford

There were very few pre 1950 Fords at the show.  In fact, I think I only saw one, which was modified and I didn’t photograph it.  Also surprising was that I didn’t see any 1949-50 Fords. Dad and I always liked these cars and I was hoping to see a few nice examples.  There were several nice 1953-54 Fords though as you’ll see below.



1955-56 Ford

The mid 1950’s Fords were well represented, although the majority were higher end models.  Along with original cars and restorations, there were a few resto-mods, although not traditional hot rodded versions.


This nicely done 55 Ford Crown Victoria resto-mod was mostly stock appearing with the only major giveaway the modern wheels.  I can certainly appreciated the time and effort that goes into making more modern engines, suspensions and drivetrains work in older cars, however, when it comes to these mid 50’s Fords, I’d rather have it stock.  So I will take the blue 2-door sedan above restored to stock specs.


This ’56 Sunliner was in the for sale tent.  At first glance I figured it was a stock car, until I looked closer and saw the 4.6 DOHC V8 under the hood.   The car was pretty nicely done and I am sure the modern driveline would not only be more powerful and fuel-efficient, but have much improve driveability.  It’s too bad the owner tacked the 4.6 and Cobra emblems on the front fenders and under the hood.  They looked quite tacky in my opinion.  Again, I still prefer the green example above restored to stock specs, which was quite nicely done and detailed.

1957 Ford – 1959 Fords

I was surprised at the lack of 1957-59 Fords.  There were quite a few Skyliner’s, but there was little representation from the more mainstream Fords.  This 1957 Ford below was owned by a man who had owned one in his youth.  This was a ’57 Fairlane, which had the unique side trim over the more commonly seen Fairlane 500.  He told me that the car was unrestored, although he admitted it has had some significant body work over the years due to rust problems, which were common in these cars.  It is a work in progress, but most importantly he’s enjoying the car.


Ford Skyliners

It must be a request condition to park a Skyliner with the roof partially retracted.  All of these cars were nicely done restorations.  I didn’t see any ’58s, just ’57 and ’59s, which were my preferred years.

This red and white ’57 was probably the nicest of the bunch.  It was restored to a top-level and very well detailed throughout.  I didn’t record the asking price, but I  remember it was not cheap.  No doubt this car is better built and detailed than anything Dearborn produced in 1957.


1960-64 Ford

I didn’t see any 1960 Fords, but there were many 1961-64 Fords at the show.  I often hear about how car shows don’t represent the actual cars of the day and this was certainly the case here.   Many of these cars were FE Powered hi-po cars equipped with manual transmissions, and I am sure many didn’t originally leave the factory so equipped. I have never seen so many hi-po 4-speed full-size Fords in one place.  It seemed the majority of these cars had some performance modifications, but for the most part were true to the era, being more “Day 2” than resto-mod.   In small town Ontario Canada, most of our surviving cars from this era are much more pedestrian and as I realized, a better representation of the average cars made during this era.


This 1961 Fairlane was built to be a period correct Super Stock car.  It is currently equipped tri-powered 390 engine, producing a 401 gross horsepower.  It was all business, equipped with a T-10 4-speed transmission, radio delete, heater delete, rubber floors and traction master traction bars.  There was no mention of what the original powertrain was, but likely something much more civilized.  This was one of the feature cars in one of the on site buildings.  Like most cars in these buildings, it was a top-notch restoration.





This ’64 wagon caught my eye immediately when I saw the straight six under the hood.  This car was for sale over in the swap meet side of the show and was reasonably priced. The car appeared to be mostly original, with only some minor refurbishment.  It wasn’t show perfect like some of the cars on the field, but was in good shape overall and would make a great hobby car.  Wouldn’t this be a nice companion to Paul’s ’66 Ford pickup?

1965-70 Ford

Like the early 1960’s cars, there was plenty of representation of the mid 1960’s cars.  There was a wide selection of 1965-66 Fords, and they were not all high performance oriented 2-doors  like the 1963-64 cars.  I believe I saw one 1967 Ford (which I forgot to shoot) but I didn’t see any 1969-70 Fords.


This ’65 Ford Custom 500 police car was one of my favorites.  I doubt that it was originally a police car (note the Galaxie 500 door panels), but whoever restored the car did an excellent job of making it period correct.  There was no mention of what powered this big squad.


This ’66 7 Litre was a very nicely done restoration, and probably my favourite of the ’65-’66 Fords.  I prefer the ’66 to the ’65 Fords, and if I were to ever get one, it’d be equipped just like this, a powerful and subtlety luxurious cruiser.




1971 -78 Ford

There were only a few 1970’s full-size Fords that I spotted, but that was no surprise since they don’t seem to have much of a following.  The ones that were there were some of the nicer examples I have seen in recent history.  Two of them were for sale, the white ’71 was in the for sale tent and the brown ’73 on the Swap Meet field.





1979-91 Ford

The early “box” panthers were not overly well represented either.  While the later generation Panther’s have a strong following, this generation does not see the same level of interest among enthusiasts.  The two examples I did see were nice in their own respects.


This ’86 LTD Crown Victoria wagon was originally Texas car.  The current owner resides in Ontario, Canada and drove it down to the show.  The car was a nice solid original car and well cared for, clearly worked for much of its life.


This ’89 LTD Crown Victoria was one of the nicest I have seen in many years.  Whoever owned this car took great pride in preserving it in almost like new condition.

I hope you enjoyed the trip through the time with the full-size Ford.  Stay tuned for the next installment of photos from Carlisle.