Saabs @ Carlisle 2011

One of the bigger Saab events on the North America calendar is the annual Carlisle Import and Kit Nationals. In Saab circles, it’s known as Saabs @ Carlisle and it was on again last weekend at the Carlisle Fairgrounds in Pennsylvania.

Organisers of the Saab effort were hoping to top the magic 300 mark this year. They fell agonisingly close, with around 275 Saabs in attendance, plus some cars from the Saab Heritage Collection in the US and dealer demo vehicles. Given the rate of growth and interest in the event, I’m sure they’ll get to the 300 mark next year, and I’d love to bring Inside Saab along to record the occasion.

All manner of Saabs drove to the event from 22 different states. A good friend of mine, Jim Coggenshall, was there and he sent me this report from the event:

Saab had at least twice as many cars as any other make a the Show. Audi, Volvo, BMW and Opel were all very well represented but less than half the number of Saabs. Other interesting groups included Simca, Lancia, Datsun, & Citroen but there were literally hundreds of other imports and kit cars (Ferrari, Lambo, GTR, etc).

The vast majority of the Saabs arrived (often in multi car convoys) in time for the Friday night BYO cook-out. A fair number of folks (including myself) camped right at the fair grounds. It was a great way to meet up with old friends and share a little late night revelry without having to worry about driving.

Saturday morning dawned as a beautiful day. A nice change for the North East US, which has had the most widespread wet spring anybody can remember. Sunscreen was in order. It was very easy to tell who forgot theirs on Sunday!

The Central Pennsylvania Saab Club had set up a 200 foot long tent as the central gathering spot. It not only was the area for provided meals, it also housed the Heritage Collection brough along by Saab Cars North America. What a stunning display. Chip Lamb of West of Sweden spent a fair bit of the day Saturday firing up nearly all the cars. On Sunday, at least three of them were taken out from under the tent for a few laps around the roads of the fair grounds. Nothing turned more heads or ears all weekend than when Chip took the two stroke Quantum racer for a slow but noisy joy ride around the entire fairgrounds.

All the Saab participants filled out People’s Choice ballots in at least 12 different classes. Nice plaques were awarded for 1,2,& 3 in each class. A pleasant surprise was the participation of the Saabaru folks with nearly a dozen cars (Saab 9-2x’s). I’m told the true Subaru folks don’t like them and they sometimes get sideways looks from the true Saab folks. But they love to drive their 9-2x’s and it was great to see some of their really well cared for cars.

The organizers also invited “friends of Saab” to participate, and they were represented by everything from a DeLorean to an old RWD Jeep somehow mated to a Saab B234 (I’m told it was seen doing wheelies).

After lunch at least three different groups went out for loosely organized cruises through the beautiful Pennsylvania farmland and up into the hills around Carlisle. Others visited the rows and rows of vendor tents to score some elusive parts for their cars or just some other memorabilia from the weekend. Then it was back to the fairgrounds for another good meal.

After dark the big transporter that brought much of the Heritage Collection was pulled up beside the huge tent. A big screen placed on the side of it for movie night which consisted of a selection of the best episodes of Top Gear. By midnight most people turned in (except, it seems, those around my tent).

On Sunday things were a bit quieter. Many of the other show participants seemed to focus only on Saturday, but not Saab. A good 75% of the cars were back for the showing of the colors. We arranged the cars by color instead of model and had another judging (what’s with only three white cars?). Those awards were presented during the lunch which closed out the three day weekend. A great time was had by all.

To some photos, then……

I should give the honor of the first image to Jim himself, as he rode to Carlisle (a 900-mile round trip) in his Saab Sonett III, which is no small feat for a tall man.

You can all of Jim’s images from Carlisle here.

The following images are from Meg Haviland, who travelled to the show from New York. You can see all of Meg’s images


That last one’s an interesting one. I’ve had a couple of people include tales of getting woken up by “that darn orange Saab” in their emails about Carlisle this year.

If you’re wondering how such a sweet little car could do that to so many people, maybe this will give you an idea….. 🙂

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  1. Wow!  That looks like the whole weekend was a lot of fun for Saab fans!  I had hoped to possibly go to this for the first time this year, but just could not get away this month.  I guess I will have to just wait for the Saab Owners Convention later this summer.  (But it sure has been fun reading about Saabs @ Carlisle and seeing the photos!)

    1. Jon, great pics! No wonder I didn’t see much of you on Friday….I love taking photos but get photo ADD after a while. You really covered EVERYTHING!!! Wow!!

  2. Now who in the world would have a jet pilots helmet on display with their Saab?…. Isn’t that taking the “Born from jets” thing a little over the top? 😉    It was a wonderful show and for my first time out, I was made to feel very welcomed.

  3. Jim,  Thanks for the great write-up covering Saabs @ Carlisle 2011. Next year we’ll be getting Steven’s take on the show 😉 And I also do wonder about that pilot’s helmet. Nice touch!!!

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