Wednesday 24 August 2011

Swap Meets Are Dead...

... and I won't be mourning the loss. I know there's a certain sort of person who'll get up at 2am and drive the length of the eastern seaboard to stand in a muddy paddock, sifting through boxes of rusty junk, looking for the last New Old Stock HT Monaro mudguard screw in existence.

These lunatics in turn are hunted by a kind of predatory beast that inhabits these rain-soaked showgrounds. You'll recognise this person - sitting in an oily deckchair, all flannel shirt and toothless bad attitude, trying to sell a box full of stripped sprockets and mismatched pistons.

These days, I can sit in air-conditioned comfort and order parts online. They arrive at my desk during work hours, clean and neatly packaged, sometimes with a little card with a bible quote if you've bought from the south of the US.

This is far more civilised, and it removes the element of chance. Need a bonnet emblem for your Jowett Javelin? A factory hood tach for your Pontiac GTO? An adaptor to put a Triumph clutch in your BSA Gold Star?

You can't guarantee that you'll find one of these at the bottom of a bucket full of Whitworth bolts and dead rats at the Upper Dagworth Show, Rodeo and Bluesgrass Festival (featuring the Upper Dagworth Morris Club's Biennial Swap Meet).

Anyone care to defend this iconic waste of time?


  1. I cannot defend the swapmeet. I’ve been to two in the last two years – one that was full of Ford bits, and the other which was full of Mopar bits. The former was expansive, but filled with junk that no-one in their right mind needed. The latter was exactly the same, only smaller. I’ve never been to a “good” one. Mis-matched pistons are only the half of it – the last one I saw had a torn and rotten hoodlining laid out for some obscure Valiant wagon. The guy was asking $5 for it, and even a rat wouldn’t touch it for more than 10 cents. The rest of the stuff there was either complete junk, or an engine for $15,000 (as if ANYONE has fifteen grand in cash at a swapmeet!). eBay has everything you need, as you correctly pointed out. Where else but eBay US could I find a NOS windscreen washer switch for a car that rolled out of San Jose in 1965?

    Kill them. Kill them all with fire.

  2. As mentioned above, the most baffling swap meet find I've had is the old bloke who had come to a Motorcycle swap with nothing but a box of miscellaneous, unlabelled sprockets.

    I was looking for a rear sprocket at the time and had measurements on me, so I went through the whole box. Without exception, every single one of them was worn beyond use or broken. He wanted $5 each and was clearly prepared to sit there all day.


  3. And yet, sometimes there's just something about being able to hold the part in your hands and figure out how usefull it's going to be...