It’s Swap Meet Time
Seeking Treasure

Famoso Raceway is a pretty nondescript place. It’s a quarter-mile stretch of pavement in California’s Central Valley surrounded by farmland on all sides – the middle of nowhere as some like to call it. But for one weekend every fall, this dusty old place becomes a mecca of vintage drag racing culture.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-28 copy

I’m talking about the California Hot Rod Reunion, the NHRA Museum’s annual homage to the glory days of drag racing. This event not only draws gearheads and racers from all over the United States, but also from across the world. As I made my way around the event last weekend, I came across folks from the UK, New Zealand, Japan and beyond.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-22 copy

There are any number of reasons one might trek to Famoso for the Hot Rod Reunion. Some come for the sensory overload that is Saturday night’s Cacklefest, others come to see the nitro Funny Cars take to the track, and some come out to see the assortment of historic drag machines on display in the pits.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-38 copy

While all of that stuff is great, for me and many others one of the greatest aspects of the Hot Rod Reunion is the swap meet – a bustling marketplace of vintage speed parts, project cars, collectables and more. Covering the treasures in the swap meet area has always been of my favorite things to do at this event.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-41 copy

California is full of old car swap meets – they happen up and down the state all year long. But the sheer volume of rare and exotic parts always makes this one stand out.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-24 copy

And now that I’ve got myself a V8-powered Mopar from the 1970s, the temptation of finding cool stuff at the swap meet is even greater than it was before. A huge amount of restraint was required as I made my way through the rows upon rows of parts.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-44 copy

Go to any auto swap meet and you’ll find lots of secondhand intake manifolds and carburetors for sale, but here at Famoso you’ll find guys offering complete injection setups, many of which haven’t been available new for decades.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-37 copy

But despite all the rare speed parts available to purchase at the Reunion, the chances of coming across the deal of the century isn’t very high. These sellers know what they have, and they didn’t come all the way to Famoso to give stuff away.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-23 copy

But even with that in mind, having the chance to actually be in the presence of all these incredible parts is far better than just looking at pictures of them on eBay or another online classified site.

Wheels & More
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-16 copy

Finding cool old wheels is one of the best parts of going to any car swap meet, and the Reunion is no different. You’d be hard pressed to find a more impressive assortment of vintage mag wheels in one place anywhere else.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-15 copy

All of the iconic wheels from the ’60s and ’70s could be found this year, including the legendary American Racing Torq Thrust, often in sizes much more suited to race cars than the sets you might typically see for sale.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-14 copy

The same can be said for the classic slot mag, an incredibly popular wheel among drag racers during the same era. You know you’ve found something special when the wheels are as wide as they are tall.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-48 copy

In addition to that, there were many genuine magnesium racing wheels that came directly from old race cars and were just begging to put on someone’s retro-themed project.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-10 copy

Even if you don’t own a project car, there’s still a ton of things to blow your money on at the Hot Rod Reunion, like an entire library’s worth of vintage car magazines for example.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-49 copy

Most of the prices on these magazines were quite reasonable, but as I keep finding out, the only problem is having the room to store them.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-9 copy

Looking for something that’s truly rare? How about awesome car club and racing jackets from the ’50s and ’60s? It’s hot rod history that you can wear.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-11 copy

And let’s not forget the collectables either. Whether you were looking for Hot Wheels or these vintage kid’s toys, there was plenty for the scale collector to love.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-5 copy

And while they might not have anything directly to do with drag cars, you can always count on big selection of old minibikes and parts as well. They’re the perfect way to get around the pits at an event like this.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-19 copy

The same goes for go kart parts. It’s enough to make anyone feel like a kid again.

Project Car Paradise
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-30 copy

And all of that is before you even get to the selection of project cars that people bring out every year hoping to find new homes for.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-27 copy

Again, at the Hot Rod Reunion you get a different assortment of vehicles than you do at a normal swap meet, including several rail dragsters in various states of assembly.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-39 copy

Or how about this old B/Gas Camaro known as the Eraticator? It looked exactly as it did when it was last raced sometime in the late ’70s or early ’80s.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-40 copy

How cool would it be to revive this thing while keeping the original paint and graphics intact?

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-29 copy

Maybe you’re looking for a Camaro project that requires a bit more work? This ’69 needs just a little TLC and was being offered for the sum of US$1,050.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-51 copy

Another cool project up for grabs was this ’56 Chevy two-door post car.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-4 copy

While it certainly needs a lot of work, it’s already got a straight axle up front and ’55 Buick rear fender wells, meaning it’s well on its way to becoming a bitchin’ gasser for someone.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-35 copy

Maybe you want something a little more off the beaten path? Check out this ’64 Rambler with just 13,000 original miles on it. The price? US$9,000.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-31 copy

There’s always something to be said for a project car that can double as a daily driver, and that’s exactly what this US$3,500 ’75 Chevy Vega wagon is.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-20 copy

Whether you are hunting for a rare vehicle, that hard-to-find part for your project car or just something cool to display in your garage, there are few things more enjoyable than browsing a swap meet like the one at the CHRR. Shopping list or not, it’s one of the things that keeps me coming back every year.

California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-42 copy

Stay tuned for more coverage from the California Hot Rod Reunion as I share with you guys some of the coolest vintage drag machines I found during my visit to Famoso this year.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media

Cutting Room Floor
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-46 copy
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-43 copy
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-32 copy
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-34 copy
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-36 copy
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-26 copy
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-18 copy
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-12 copy
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-8 copy
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-7 copy
California-Hot-Rod-Reunion-2015-6 copy


Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I want that Eraticator Camaro so badly...


Looks like the sort of place I'd go if I wanted to get divorced.


I missed a swap meet this weekend by a few hours. Gambled on trying to get the little one to nap and he woke up anyway. Should have just went lol.

Nice post Mike! I really want to grab a wheel for my project.


CJC_Matty +1


Someone needs to start a swap meet like this for Imports. Got a shed full of Japanese classic car parts I need to rid myself of. Selling on craigslist is just not worth the frustration!


That Chevy Vega was bloody awesome!


I swear, hot Rodder have the coolest club names


There never seems to be cool swap meets like this around here. I'm jealous.


i see so much stuff Id have to buy....


MrTanuki Fantastic idea. I know there is a massive muscle car swap meet in Long Beach area once a month, it would be awesome if they coordinated with shops and the local tuner community to have a quarterly Import swap meet, and if it works out, monthly. Imagine how good that would be in SoCal!!!


D1RGE EXE MrTanuki Oh man im way down for that. I have a bunch of parts I need to get rid of. I also make my own shift knobs and boots. Havent tried to sell them in a while, I used to be a vendor at Japanese Classic Car show called Tanuki Attack. Ill see what I can find out about that swap meet and see what it costs to get a spot. It would be nice to set up a whole area dedicated to imports.


Dear Mike,

Thanks so much for the great coverage. I would like to point out one error that really needs to be corrected. The California Hot Rod Reunion presented by Automobile Club of Southern California is produced by the NHRA Motorsports Museum, not by the NHRA. The NHRA Motorsports Museum is an independent non profit 501c(3) charitable organization. Why is this important? Because every dollar invested by those who attend the Reunion; Race their cars; Buy a ticket, and yes even Purchase swap meet space, goes to support the Museum's programs and initiatives. After expenses, of which there are many for event like this, all of the funds go directly back to the Museum and support those activities that help preserve our hot rod heritage.

Thanks again and keep up the great work,

Larry Fisher, Executive Director
NHRA Motorsports Museum


Did you come across Road Kill? haha


YotaWraith Not that I recall. Although it wouldn't have been surprising!


NHRA Motorsports Museum Thanks Larry! Will update the story to make this point clear ;)


TheGentleman Agreed!


MrTanuki D1RGE EXE There's the all-Datsun swap meet they have every once in a while, but it's nothing compared to the size of this one.


DaveT Glad you liked it!


CJC_Matty Haha! Well said.


the car was very good 
really really like to see the car that shiny new car fits like made ​​for walking trailsthe car was very good" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> and very fast" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> mix of colors" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> from which to" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> make want pobud see hatnya" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> kecepatanya" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> was very nice ," rel="dofollow" target="_blank">  suitable for a "" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> sharp bend or not sharp I guess motorists like this is" very skilled in the speed I hope I can membilinya someday will whether there are new cars are better I" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> 'll wait for it , with a stylish car classic" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> style I" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> also like" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> to see would be whether there is a" rel="dofollow" target="_blank"> car that is as fast and forius like in the " movie , the car very good car designed a way apparently hopefully there will be new cars more good and the price is quite pantastis then chances are I can membilinya the same as you have at this time