This mini pit bike could be had for $200. Did we miss a score?
Summer is swap-meet time. I don't mean Craigslist or eBay, either; I mean the time when you get up before the sun and sneak your muscle car out of the garage for a blast down an empty freeway at dawn.
There are two notable swap meets in the Los Angeles area. The first is Pomona, a world-famous destination for junkers, flippers, and foreigners looking for a clean SoCal score. It takes about six hours to cover the entire event, if you include all the model- and year-specific car corrals and the rows of swap-meet stuff stacked to the horizon. The second is Long Beach, which is held at Veterans Memorial Stadium near the Long Beach airport and is much smaller, taking about half the time to see it all. I like the Long Beach event because you can find what you are looking for, and there is no room for fluff. There are more racing parts and hard-core junk at the Beach.
My haul was mostly castoff junk from the Demon drag car project and some stock parts left over from engine swaps. It really wasn't about making money, anyway; the parts were to cover the $50 vendor fee and a stale pretzel. If you aren't a regular, there will be guys with flashlights waiting to see what is in your pile. If you have what they need and the prices are right, it's normal to sell the straight fenders and good parts within the first few minutes. We call it the feeding frenzy.
After the parts were gone, it was time for some cruising in the rows. Even though the market has moved with the kids driving fuel-injected Mustangs, instead of carbureted Mustangs, the swap meets are stubborn to change. There are carbureted intakes as far as you can see, in addition to gen-one small-block Chevy and Ford parts. I perused a set of Brodix BBC heads and a nitrous kit that would look good on the High School Chevelle and haggled the tool vendor for an LS engine stand. The score of the day had to be a polished Chevy tunnel ram with linkage for a $300 asking price. I was thinking it would look good with a pair of Hardcore Holleys in black and some blue anodized velocity stacks. You can never have enough good garage art.
Moving on to the car corral, I noticed a more than usual number of guys with either Australian or Kiwi accents. In the past, the ritual was to export cars from sunny SoCal to more rust-prone areas of the world, but this time we spied a right-hand drive '56 Ford with a 4.6L three-valve that came from Down Under. Has the dollar swung to our favor? Also from the unusual, we spotted a handmade miniature Peterbilt truck made from a '37 Ford truck cab and a Chevy S-10. Add to this a dozen or so Chevelles and Novas, and you have a mini car show.
So check out your local swap meet the next time you can. They usually open at 5 or 6 in the morning, so you get unfettered car-guy time with your build as you drive on empty streets in the quiet of the early morning. Then, you can haggle other car guys for parts and cash. It's the best way to spend the first half of Sunday.
Car Craft Mag
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