The Concierge's Corner: America's Best Swap Meets
Of all the thousands of questions HVA concierge, Glenn Arlt, answers for members every year, one of the most common is where to look for parts. One great place to start—your local swap meet. Check out The Answer Man’s picks for the top three swap meets in America.
“Whether one swap meet is better than another is totally subjective and depends on what the person is looking for,” says Arlt.
Typically, bigger is better. But at any swap meet, there’s that element of the unknown—every year bringing different vendors and new surprises, which makes the search for parts exciting and not something you get from shopping in a catalog or online.
According to Arlt, narrowing the field down to the three best is tough because so many great swap meets are held annually in the United States.
Working your way east to west across the country, there’s the Charlotte Auto Fair and the Carlisle Swap Meet held every spring and fall. The St. Ignance Auto Show and Swap Meet gets high marks from Arlt for the number of vendors for Ford and GM parts as well as some large aftermarket-parts guys like Holley. There’s also Hot August Nights in Reno-Sparks, Nevada and Pomona Swap Meet in Southern California.
“But if I had to narrow it down to three, my choice would be the ones that were the oldest, the biggest, and the easiest to get to for most people because of their locations—all important factors that increase the chances of being able to find something that one needs for a restoration.”
Founded in the 1950s, the Hershey Swap Meet is one of the world's largest old-car gatherings with over 1,000 cars for sale in the "car corral" and approximately 9,000 flea market spaces.
The meet—starting Tuesday, October 4 and ending Saturday, October 8—is not expected to be impacted by the recent flooding that stymied or led to cancellations of other Hershey area events this month.
For more information on vendors, RV/camper parking, and maps of the show field, check out www.hersheyaaca.org.
Billed as “World's Largest Early Auto Meet,” the Chickasha Pre-War Swap is located in Oklahoma and is known throughout the collector world for having the largest selection of brass-era parts anywhere. The meet is limited to automobiles, parts, transportation items pre-1945. There is plenty of free parking, and admission is free.
Sponsored by The Old Pueblo Touring Association, the 2012 meet is already scheduled March 15 and 16, 2012. For more information, check out www.pwsm.com.
Presented annually by six Portland, Oregon, area antique car clubs, the Portland Swap Meet is the largest auto parts swap meet on the West Coast with approximately 4,200 vendor stalls and over 50,000 shoppers each April at the Portland Expo Center. This is a three-day show specializing in historic vehicles 1980 and older. Dates for 2012 have already been set for April 13, 14, and 15.
For more information, check out www.portlandswapmeet.com.