In the first Farm Truck Fever (October '06), we ventured across California and into Nevada and Utah to see whether we could still find an old truck sitting in a field or front yard to haul home and create a masterpiece. In our second chapter, The Bug Hits Home, instead of scouring the countryside searching truck by old rusty truck, we went to the Pomona Swap Meet in Pomona, California, where folks from all over the western United States converge to form the largest antique automobile swap meet on the West Coast. In our effort to provide readers with an accurate overview of the event, we attended four occasions before we compiled our story on how to search the Pomona Swap Meet for a project truck.
It's a good thing that we did decide to attend several dates before we presented this piece, because we learned that you can't predict how good the next Pomona Swap Meet will be based on the last one. Of the four meets, June 4 was the best. There were a lot of good trucks there, and the prices were reasonable. To cite a few examples, the first one that comes to mind was a yellow (original paint) '57 Ford F-100 panel truck that had Idaho plates with an asking price of $2,700. What caught our eye about this truck was that it was fully loaded. Instead of the base 223-inch inline six-cylinder with a three-speed stick, this truck originally came with a 292 V-8 backed with a Fordomatic transmission. The engine and trans were missing, but the chrome-plated Fordomatic emblem was still on the hood. Its desirable extras included a factory chrome grille and what we would imagine was rare even back in '57, a Custom Cab with matching bucket seats. Next on our list of favorites was a California original '62 Chevy shortbed Fleetside with a 283 V-8 engine and a compound four-speed for $2,500 or best offer.
One of the really neat things about the Pomona Swap Meet is that people haul vehicles in from all over the United States to offer for sale. We ran across one group of guys who were camped out around a '55 Ford fire truck they'd shipped in from Oklahoma. The short-wheelbase pumper had less than 8,000 original miles and was in absolutely flawless museum quality for only $7,500.
A bit of advice that we always like to offer to someone who's in the market for a project truck: Buy the absolute best example you can find. Of course, if you wait until you have the kind of dough necessary to buy the best truck available, you might never get started. As we were leaving the June 4 event, we were stopped by two guys selling a big-window '59 Chevy shortbed Stepside. In the morning they were asking $3,000, but at the prospect of hauling the battered truck 200 miles back to their Central California home, the price had dropped to $1,500-it's likely that anyone with $1,000 cash could have taken it home.
With the arrival of our fourth consecutive visit to the Pomona Swap Meet, we were discouraged-the quality of the trucks had progressively worsened, while the asking prices were increasingly higher. While one might take this as an indication that the availability of old trucks is drying up, which is true to a point, there's no need to panic. We have been checking out the Pomona Swap Meet scene on and off for the last 20 years, and one thing we have learned is that you can't judge the next one by looking at the last.
The paint on this '57 Ford...
The paint on this '57 Ford F-100 1/2-ton panel for $2,700 OBO was original. It came from the factory fully loaded with a 292 V-8, Fordomatic, and Custom Cab.
Here's the '59 Chevy Stepside...
Here's the '59 Chevy Stepside that went from $3,000 to $1,500 in just a day's time. This was its good side.
This Chevy panel once graced...
This Chevy panel once graced the cover of Custom Classic Trucks. Here it's seen just laying around.