Keith’s Blog: Going to a Swap Meet

There’s been a lot written about the demise of swap meets. We’ve all heard how the Internet is now the quick-and-easy way to find and or sell what you need.

However, the human factor is overlooked in all this. Just as I believe land-based auctions are a way for like-minded enthusiasts to come together, so are swap meets.

The Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon (www.alfaclub.org) host an annual swap meet each spring. This year I volunteered the SCM “Bat Cave” storage garage.

I’m getting ready to remove a wall connecting the two four-car garages of the cave, and this gave me a reason to start cleaning out and sorting stuff.

The meet went from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The club brought its grill. I’d forgotten how good hot dogs taste when you are with friends. The weather cooperated and was sunny and hot.

I haven’t connected with so many Alfa friends (I’ve been a member of the club for nearly 50 years) in a long time.

Tom Barnett was the host. I knew his father, Larry Barnett, well.

Among the other long-time acquaintances were:

Denny Pillar, who built the engine in my 1958 Sprint Veloce.

Ex-GTA racer Stu Moss, who is always a source of information.

Bob Hui who recently brought a Super from England to join his GTV.

Bill Gillham, who restored my 1965 Giulia Spider.

Mark Carpenter, whose company put the roof on the garage.

Dave Beach, who took home 25 extra steering columns from my last garage sale 20 years ago. He still has them.

Renewing friendships with the Alfa gang in person was far more satisfying than the texts and Facebook posts we most often use.

The day was a success: I sold more things than I bought. Gillham took home six Alfa heads that were stored for 30 years, and bookseller Logan Gray carted off cartons of manuals that I will never open again.

I did manage to score gaskets for the taillights on my Sprint. The other addition to my trash and treasure pile was a complete dashboard, with gauges, for a 1964-65 (gray painted) dash for a GTV.

My plan is to restore it and then make it into a wall hanging. It’s more likely that I’ll just wait five years and realize I’m never going to touch it. Then I’ll sell it at another swap meet.

Two weeks ago, I sold a spare nose for my Bugeye for $300 and turned it into a dinner. I came out about $250 ahead on this swap meet. I and celebrated by taking the Spider Veloce on a 200-mile drive to a winemakers dinner in Hood River, followed by wine-tasting the next day at AniChe Cellars just across the Columbia River in Underwood, WA.

I would call that the perfect value exchange.

 

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

Posted in Blogs, Keith Martin