With the rise of eBay and other virtual parts bazaars, many predicted that it was only a matter of time before swap meets became a thing of the past. Swap meets haven’t died yet, nor do they show any sign of fading away. Maybe it’s something primordial within people, the thrill of the hunt—risking a case of tetanus to grab that rusty Model A fender— that just can’t be satisfied with a sterile mouse click. Here are five great swap meets that are still going strong:
Hershey: Hershey is the granddaddy of U.S. swap meets, held during the first week of October in conjunction with the AACA Eastern Regional Fall Meet. It’s a bit of a cliché, but it really is true: If you can’t find it at Hershey, it probably doesn’t exist. The problem, though, is finding it in the first place. With 9,000 spaces spread over hundreds of acres, it’s virtually impossible to see everything. RM/Sotheby’s holds a high-end catalog auction, as well.
Portland Automotive Swap Meet: Portland’s mega swap meet celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and like Hershey, it’s not going away any time soon. “Always in April” is the slogan, and in 1970, the meet moved to its current home, the Portland Expo Center near I-5 and the Portland International Raceway. Early April is a curious time of year to hold it, still firmly within Portland’s rainy season, but at least part of it is indoors. Lately, it’s gotten more of a reputation as a seller’s market, whereas Hershey is seen as more of a place to buy.
Pomona Swap Meet: The Pomona Swap Meet bills itself as the West Coast’s largest automotive swap meet. Held on multiple dates throughout the year, the weather is in another league relative to other meets on this list. In Pomona, it’s always gorgeous at the Fairplex. Pomona specializes in Corvette, Porsche, VW and street rod parts.
Spring Carlisle Collector Car Swap Meet, Corral and Auction: We’re not sure what it is with Pennsylvania and swap meets, but in addition to Hershey, it’s home to another great event that takes place in early April at the Carlisle Fairgrounds. Nearly the size of Hershey with more than 8,000 vendor stalls spread over 150 acres, Spring Carlisle is also the home of a massive car corral with about 2,000 cars for sale (about twice the size of Hershey’s car corral), as well as an onsite collector car auction.
Beaulieu International Autojumble: “Autojumble” is British for swap meet, and the one that takes place in early September on the grounds of the UK’s National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, Hampshire near the port city of Southampton is one to behold. It is to the UK what Hershey is to the U.S., and if you’re into British cars, it’s a bucket-list event, if for no other reason than the joy of explaining what the TR4 tail lamps are doing in your carry-on bag. Bonhams holds an auction there and Hagerty’s UK office presents a collecting seminar.