When it comes to any festival of Ford, the Carlisle Ford Nationals ranks high on the list. Everything from the variety of Fords displayed to the record breaking attendance are all reasons why this event should be on every Ford lovers calendar. This year was no different, as crowds flocked to the small town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to show off their beautiful cars and trucks. In case you were unfortunate enough to miss the event, here is a quick recap of what all went down.
Day One – Welcoming Entrance
As most of the world was finishing a busy work week, it appears that quite a few called in sick or took vacation time to soak in the sun at the first day of the 2022 Carlisle Ford Nationals. At the front gate the Carlisle crew worked hard throughout the morning, sifting through hundreds of cars streaming in. Each vehicle was placed into their respective groups of similar models and age range. My first sight was a row of Rancheros facing a series of early Mustangs when I entered the first gate.
Taking a break from looking at complete vehicles, I decided to head towards the swap meet and see what goods were to be had. I think a lot of other attendees had the same idea, as this section resembled a Black Friday sale with hernia-inducing lifting taking place after purchases. A few forward thinkers brought a cart and filled it to the brim with new old stock and speciality items. I personally had to restrain myself from a particular Lightning tube bumper that caught my eyes, knowing my flight wouldn’t allow it as a carry on.
While the car show and swap meet carried attendees through the morning, the talk amongst everyone was the unveiling of a Shelby American car in the lightweight reunion hall. The unveiling of the mystery mobile was slated to be revealed mid-day, but a walk through the hallway was eye opening. Everything from R-Code Galaxies and Ford Fairlane Thunderbolts welcomed my first steps into the building. As I progressed through the hall, an arsenal of multi-generation Shelby Hertz rental cars lined the perimeter and a collection of Shelby American recreations paid homage to the past.
Day Two – Floodgates of Ford
When I thought the fairground couldn’t be filled any more, I would be proven extremely wrong as day two provided a massive push in attendance. I had snuck out in the early morning to photograph a slammed F-100 with a Coyote swap, and promised the owner it would only take around 30 minutes. Unfortunately, upon our arrival back to the entrance we were greeted with a line longer than we had ever expected. If there was any vehicle that was not in attendance on Friday, they were certainly here now. I decided to let the line die down and grab some breakfast.
Once my stomach was satisfied and my legs knew their fate, I reentered the grounds. The rows now had zero vacancy as vehicles were paired side by side. While this did me no favors for photography, it did enhance the view I was able to take in with every step. What I thought was overflow parking turned out to be the truck and off-road section. The steep section was now covered with lowered single-cab trucks and lifted Broncos. Marauders and Crown Vics mingled together with supercharged engines and power adders galore. The far side, which contained a line of sport compacts, now had rows of Focus, Escorts, Merkur XR4Ts, and even early rally cars.
Once my mind was overstimulated with vehicles, I moved towards the vendor row. As expected, Ford Performance was the highlight. Ford brought out a few electric vehicles, but the main attraction was the Eruption Green and Heritage Edition Shelby GT500s. Fans were also able to see the Bronco Raptor up close for the first time and make the same fender flare comments seen online. Moving past the Ford booth was like connecting with my cronies. Each company seemed to have the same goals as the consumer of creating the highest level of performance to Ford fans.
Around this time I began to hear the familiar sound of a supercharged Mustang on the mobile dyno VMP Performance brought. VMP Performance provided exactly what my ears were seeking out, as car after car was strapped to the dyno. Instead of just handing out bragging sheets, VMP Performance was actually tuning each vehicle for optimal performance.
Reluctantly moving myself from the static car show and sounds of the dyno, would open yet another corner of the Carlisle Ford Nationals field. In a limited amount of space located near the highway, an autocross and monster truck ride-along would be taking place! Ford Performance pulled out all the stops by providing a ride-along in its track-prepped Explorer ST. Meanwhile, the Virginia Giant packed thrill seeking enthusiasts in the bed of the monster truck while it ramped over crushed cars.
Day Three – The Exodus
As I made my way to the grounds for the third day, I saw several cars making the journey back home. Flashbacks to my high school days when the Fox Body and SN95 chassis roamed the streets looking for prey was intermingled with the classic car shows my father would take me to as a child. All the automotive action could be seen spilling onto the streets of Carlisle. While Carlisle offers around five exits out of town, each one was like rewatching the car show in motion.
On the grounds, the once packed tent of Mustang SSP cars dwindled to only a handful. The showcase hall exhibiting a Saleen XP8 prototype and RS200 was shutting down and owners were waiting for their release. Truck and trailers began to enter the grounds to load up show cars and pop-up tents began to disappear. The commotion of leaving didn’t stop a few faithful from sticking around and enjoying the beautiful weather and cars. I, too, found myself wishing the event would not come to an end as there was an abundance of future features, proud owners with great stories, and industry experts with a wealth of knowledge.
In case you were wondering if you should attend the Carlisle Ford Nationals next year, the answer is a resounding yes. The event is well organized, well staffed, and provides the perfect climate to cruise through the grounds and check out the entire line of cars. Carlisle Ford Nationals is more than just a car show. It’s a mix of history lessons combined with experience like no other. Check out our gallery for a sample of what the Carlisle Ford Nationals had to offer.