Fun at Import Carlisle – 2017

Hello Again!

Man, I’m busy…  It gets crazier by the day – but it’s still a blast!  Business is good and we are still making great progress on our restorations and in continuing to expand the E-Type panels we are offering.  We have also made great strides toward our ultimate goal of building the complete monocoque body shell, and all of this will be described in upcoming blogs, because…

I have GOT TO start blogging more often!  Deepest apologies to all of my loyal followers who have been disappointed over the past year or so, when I have really done a poor job of keeping up – there is just so much else to do!  But I have shifted the blogging to a much higher priority from now on, and am hoping to get up at least one blog a week over the Summer.

This past week, I spent a couple of days at the Import swap meet in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  You know that I LOVE the annual AACA Fall swap meet in Hershey, PA, and while I have not missed a Hershey meet in over 30 years, I have not been to a swap meet in nearby Carlisle since about that long.  SO I finally caved in and went to the Spring Import swap meet on Thursday and Friday, and had a BLAST just hanging out with some of my closest “E-Type buddies”…

Apparently, in years past, the Spring “Import/Kit-car Nationals” at carlisle was MUCH bigger.  Like other swap meets, the Internet has really kind of gradually killed it off, and now it seems that just the die-hard old-timers are left, and it’s more of an annual reunion than a full-blown swap meet.

The carlisle Fairgrounds are about one quarter the size of the swap meet fields at Hershey, and this littel show took up probably ONE TENTH of that!  Really, there were just about 2-3 short rows, and it seemed a little more like the feel of a vintage race paddock than a true swap meet.  I was disappointed at first, but by the end of the two days I was there, it turned into one of the best times I’ve had at a swap meet!

I arrived on Thursday around noon – which was set-up day…  As I was not a vendor, They would not let me in at the main gate or the side gate – Carlisle is fenced in whereas Hershey is just so huge it is a giant, no-charge event.  My friend that I had planned to spend most of the meet with – Dan – was still a couple hours from town, and I was kind of perplexed as to how to proceed.  I did know several vendors who were setting up, and really wanted to get in there and get “the good deals” as the stuff is coming out of their trucks and trailers – the “holy grail” legend of all swap meets…

Eventually, I just decided to head over to the hotel and check in early and wait for Dan, but then saw a back entrence to the Fair grounds, and the third try was a charm, as I managed to “sweet talk” my way in.  After I WAS in, then I was PARANOID that I was going to get thrown out (which was ridiculous – the did a good job keeping people out, but once you were IN, no one cared where you aprked or what you did…), but the whole time I was in there that first afternoon I felt like I used to when I was out driving the Jag as a kid before it was done, titled, or tagged – and that was actually pretty cool!

Eventually, Dan showed up and as there was truly nothing going on and it was almost 100 degrees, we went straight into town and had a nice relaxing lunch, then went back in around 4:00 and ran into a bunch of fellow E-Type guys and starting catching up and talking Jags…

Now, there were not actually any E-Types there, and BARELY any E-Type parts, but there sure were alot of E-type “guys”!  We eventually all headed right back into town and had dinner at a small little kind of “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant that was crowded with just a bunch of old guys – dirty and sweaty from a long hot day of trolling the junk at the flea market – talking about British cars – again, it felt JUST LIKE vintage racing with Bill and Trent Terry over 25 years ago!

Actually, it was kind of surreal…  I found myself sitting at the table just yucking it up and telling stories about my Jag as a kid with the guy who literally “wrote the book” on E-Types.   The whole time, I was enjoying the moment, but also thinking, “How did a kid with a beat-up old E-Type in Delaware end up here with these guys!?!”

After a fun night, we crashed at the hotel, and then got up, had breakfast (more stories…), and then headed back over to look through all of the same junk for the 5th time…  Eventually, I found myself at the same vendor’s spot – a guy I already knew anyway – rummaging through boxes of E-Type parts – and then A little voice in my head said, “OK – what are you doing? You have 20 times this much stuff back at the shop – STOP BUYING E-TYPE PARTS!!!”

So finally, at about noon, it was hot and we really had “done it”, so Dan and I headed back over the the “Market Cross” restaurant and bar, had another great lunch, and then I headed home while he headed back over for one more go-around before he also headed home for the weekend.

I really had a great time…  At Hershey, you’re lucky to cover the whole thing in several days, and so there is this ingrained idea that the “Deal of the Show” is waiting for you right around the next corner, and so until you cover all of the rows in the flea market, there is no screwing around with sit-down meals and a glass of cold beer.  At least for me – that is OUT OF THE QUESTION!

But over the years, I have found that the times when I do sit down in a guy’s spot and just chat about cars and parts for a while, it turns out to be the thing I look back on and smile at the end of the day, and so maybe it’s just a coming of age thing…  After all, once you start approaching a dozen antique cars and projects – and you never touch a single one on the weekends because you are busy raising your kids and trying to spend time with them before they are gone, you start to realize that you don’t need that screaming deal around the next corner – even if it’s FREE!

And so the chance to slow things down at a swap meet and spend more time socializing than usual was a really welcome change.  In conclusion, it’s a small show, but wwas a great backdrop for getting together and spending some quality time in person with the guys I talk to on the phone and via text almost every day.

Thanks, guys – looking forward to next year already! – Chuck  🙂

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