The fun of swap meet shopping for automotive parts has become even more interesting these days, largely because of online sites like Craigslist and eBay. Serious collectors still go to auto swap meets looking to buy, sell, or swap parts, and the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association’s swap meet and car corral has become one of those swap meets that collectors look forward to visiting when the Goodguys come to town.
Swap meets are the perfect place to buy some hard-to-find parts.
We were lucky enough to have some time to check out the Goodguys’ swap meet and car corral at the recent Del Mar, California, event. Much like traditional swap meets, the swap meet area is informal and generally made up of a group of collectors that are looking to sell many of the parts that they have recovered after cleaning out their garages. There are some more-organized sellers at some of the events, but for the most part, the swap meet area is for the regular collectors like you and me.
There Are Still Bargains
Don’t be surprised if the swap meet vendors have their parts scattered on the ground on top of a tarp. Most are looking for customers to dig through their old parts to find something they need. Most of the swap meet vendors will have cleaned their parts, an many are marked with tags or masking tape that identifies what the part is and sometimes how much they are asking for the part.
Knowing what you are looking for and how much it is worth is critical for a happy transaction.
Smart phones have changed the game – for better or worse – by making pricing almost universal. The sellers know what their price is for their parts, and a buyer with a smart phone can easily find out what a reasonable price is. Cash is still king however, and many sellers will act on an offer when a buyer has cash in hand. So, bargains can still be had.
We find it hard to walk by a flathead intake. At this show, there were several.
Most of the people we saw that were serious buyers had lists with part numbers. Some even had photos on their cell phones and were comparing those to the parts on the ground. The nice thing about the Goodguys events is the easy access to cash via ATM machines. Smart shoppers used to carry a decent amount of money for purchases. Now they just need to know where the ATM is.
A single-quad flathead intake was a pleasant find.
The First Stop
While we were walking through the swap meet and car corral, we spotted some items that were worth giving a second look. The first table we came to sported several older intakes. We have a hard time walking by any flathead intake, and right there in the center was an old Offenhauser intake with a pair of Stromborg 97s. Next to it was an Offenhauser big flatty manifold with a single-quad mounting pad marked at $225 OBO. These can still be purchased new at H&H Flatheads for $250, so there is probably some room to bargain. That quick check on the Internet with your smart phone will help you make a good choice at the seller’s table.
On the ground next to the table with the manifolds sat three flathead bellhousings and transmission adapters. It was clear that this vender dealt with flathead Ford V8s, and could be a valuable resource for other flattie parts. It would be worth the time spent to talk with him and find out if there were more parts like this at home. A friendly smile and some nice small talk will go a long way at the show.
Need a flathead bellhousing?
The next table we approached had a couple vintage VDO gauge clusters laying out front. If we had to guess, they were probably from an older Porsche Speedster or maybe even an aftermarket VW gauge cluster with three little warning lights.
The vendor called to us immediately. “That’s not the story here. The real story is this truck,” he said pointing at the 1957 Ford panel truck off to the side. “This truck was the original delivery truck for the Charles Street Hardware company in Boston,” he declared.
According to the vendor, this delivery van was the real story.
“They are still in business today. I called them and the owner said he always wondered where that truck went.” He showed us pictures of the truck outside the front of the hardware store. It is for sale and we don’t make a habit of advertising people’s used vehicles, but if you are interested, the number is in the photos.
Hell Bound or not?
Every year we stop by the Del Mar Goodguys swap meet and see the same old “Hell Bound” Corvette. This is reportedly a Bill Thomas-prepped 427-spec 1965 Vette designed for the strip, but we couldn’t verify that. In 1965 Thomas was busy with the Cheetah project, so it seems to be a stretch that this was a car built at the shop at that time. However… Thomas had his hand in so many things that anything is possible.
This great Bel Air was pretty clean and probably an older restoration by looking at the small chipped paint at the edge of the hood. Overall, the car was well cared for and driven routinely.
Some vendors just bring vintage items to sell. Many are fun to look at, but for our money, we came for auto parts. But, we managed to pass a couple of nice cars that seemed worth the time of a second look, like this 1955 Chevy Bel Air that was pretty clean with an asking price of $13,000 or best offer. The only other information on the car stated that it was a California car. The paint was worn and chipped in some areas, so if it was a restoration, it was an older restoration.
Next to the Bel Air was a Red ’65 Chevelle that claimed to have the numbers matching 327ci engine, with only 36,000 miles. The for sale sign claimed the car was all original, then listed Wilwood disc brakes. It could be driven away for $49,900.
This Chevelle was up for sale.
We also spotted a black 1938 Buick that had no information on it, but the build was pretty clean and probably worth what the owner was asking. A beautiful red Willys, also with no information, sat nearby. We spotted another Willys, although not your usual suspect. This one was a military M38-A1 all-purpose vehicle. It did have information on the for sale sign that indicated the asking price was $26,000 and the purchase included the 5’ X 6’ utility trailer the Jeep was sitting on.
In the market for a Jeep? You could have driven away with this one, a perfect addition to any well-equipped compound.
Odds And Ends
You never know what you are going to see at a swap meet, and we managed to see a lot on this Friday. One of the most promising pieces for a fabricator with skills was most of a 1931 Victoria body, that had a lot of rust, but was still restorable and useable in the right hands. The sign said “Best Offer.”
We strode past other vendor spots that were filled with fibergalss fenders, vintage wheels, and even one Halibrand 301 center section. There was a vendor with several 1970s vintage mini-bikes in completely restored condition (we were afraid to ask the prices), and one Taco mini-bike was listed at $1,100. For those that weren’t around yet, Taco mini-bikes were the mini-bike to have in the late ’60s to early ’70s.
We also cruised past several tables filled with door and window handles, cigarette lighters, radios, and exterior trim. Most were in decent shape for daily drivers, but nothing of real show car caliber. The prices seem to fit daily driver prices too.
Goodguys Swap Meets
The Goodguys Rod & Custom Association advertises their swap meets as the perfect shopping experience for anyone looking to buy or sell any hard-to-find classic automotive parts, memorabilia, or vehicle. Over the course of several years, we have found that to be true. From gauges to tires and wheels, vehicle frames to fenders, shop signs to vintage automotive toys, and even mini-bikes, you can find just about anything automotive at a Goodguys swap meet.
Almost every Goodguys event has a swap meet area where these bargains can be found. For more information on the Goodguys Rod & Custom events or swap meet features, visit them online at www.good-guys.com.