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Classic cars, vintage imports, exciting specialty cars and full-sized replicas provided thrills, entertainment and the opportunity to purchase that lifelong dream car at the 2005 Carlisle Import-Kit/Replicar Nationals, presented by Beck/Arnley Import Auto Parts, at the Carlisle (Pa.) Fairgrounds on May 20-22.

The largest kit car gathering in America – along with scores of original, classic, vintage and new imports – attracted 17,923 visitors to the three-day event. Those in attendance were able to see 1,179 cars on the show field and shop with vendors covering 980 spaces.

Kit cars are full-sized, driveable, functional replicas of original-design vehicles that have captured the imaginations of car fans. They included replicas of Cobras, GT40s, Daytonas, ’32 Fords, ’55 Thunderbirds, Lamborghini Countaches and Diablos, MGs, Lotuses, and Porsche Spyders and Speedsters. Among the replicas were original-design vehicles including the Noble M-12 super car, Dragon and GTM. Many designs were debuted at the event.

The import show field was filled with vintage and late-model British, European and Asian vehicles. The fairgrounds swelled with Volvos, Saabs, Audis, MGs, Porsches, BMWs, NSUs, Toyotas, Hondas and a cornucopia of foreign automobiles from new to vintage. This year’s invitational display had an Italian flavor and was appropriately titled Celebri Italiano, a Celebration of Italian cars. Original Ferraris, Panteras and Fiats filled the display building.

Prizes, awards and competition also filled the weekend carfest. Allan and Bobbi Shapiro of Vineland, N.J., won a 1976 Fiat Pininfarina Sport Spider just by being at the event and holding the winning ticket.

Winners in the event’s new Standard of Excellence competition included Ted Hatem and Kate English’s 2004 356D convertible and Mark LeVea’s 1966 Ford GT40 replica for four commendations; Hans Martinsen’s 1964 Corvette Coupe and Terry Terragna and Kathy Leathers’ Cobra Replica convertible 427 for three commendations; Tara and  Rick Greco’s 2000 Lamborghini Roadster replica for two commendations; and Don Simon’s 1995 Lamborghini Countach for one commendation.

Awards were also given for club participation, with trophies going to those organizations with the most members and cars attending the event. The Saabs at Carlisle club won for the fourth consecutive year with 137 members attending. Fieros were well represented as the Mid Atlantic Fieros owners brought 95 members and cars to the show. Another club challenge was the Club Cook-off, won by Linda Golden with a delicious dessert called Decadent Delight.

The Susquehanna Region of the Sports Car Club of America and its chapter club, the Appalachian Sports Car Club, conducted a drivers’ school and an autocross for attendees during the weekend. Each participant ran the traditional autocross with a three-lap run against the clock. Drivers’ skill resulted in the quickest times, and scoring was accomplished by using an RTP index designed to adjust for the performance capabilities of the car. The top drivers included Michael Louie in his 1991 Honda Civic (he had the second-fastest lap in the field at 70.097 seconds and one of the lowest PAX indices to gain him the victory), Robert Beck in his 2002 Subaru Impreza and Markus Houser in his 1997 Dodge Neon. The quickest time was registered by Brian Kraus in his 1978 MG Midget with 68.453 seconds, but his PAX index helped put his final total in 11th place.

The event was more than cars, as activities included a wine tasting sponsored by Brookmere Winery of Belleville, Pa., a guided tour of downtown Carlisle and a cruise the Central Pennsylvania countryside of the Cumberland valley.

Next year’s Carlisle Import-Kit/Replicar Nationals will be held May 19-21 at the Carlisle Fairgrounds. Visit www.carsatcarlisle.com or call (717) 243-7855 for information.