To paraphrase a famous phrase, “in the spring a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of swap meets,” except for the young part that pretty well describes us. Sure, we could have spent the first weekend in April working on the projects we already have, but for some reason it just seemed like heading to the annual Portland Swap Meet made more sense.

Swap meets are great for finding those missing parts for a current project, or coming home with a new one, selling parts you don’t need or moving a completed project to make room for another. There’s even something about a swap meet that gets the creative juices flowing even if you come home empty handed.

Of course, for those of us in the business there are other things to be found at a big swap meet such as Portland, namely indications of the health of the hobby and the direction it is heading. Certainly this year’s event reinforced our belief that the truck market is one of the strongest of the automotive hobbies. Truck sales were strong, lots of parts changed hands and the vendors we talked to were doing well. But then for anyone looking for new parts a swap meet is a perfect place to buy them as dealers often offer discounts and there are no freight charges.

One of the trends that was obvious soon as we walked through the gate is perhaps the worst kept secret on the planet—C10 Chevys are hot! There were more Chevy trucks of all descriptions and more Chevy parts than all others combined. That being said, we still found some good deals on trucks that couldn’t be built for their asking price. That’s not to say there weren’t some crazy price tags, there were, but the serious sellers seemed to be realistic in their expectations.

When it comes to popularity F-100s are still high up on the list and F-1s are getting close—we base this on prices of complete trucks and parts we found and of course the more popular the truck the more expensive it will be. But then we always have had a soft spot for the oddballs. Lets face it, making a C10 or an F-100 into a cool truck isn’t that big of a challenge, but make a head-turner out of the ’49 Dodge shown here and you’ve really done something. How about stuffing in a new Hemi, drop it so the running boards are on the ground, chop the top and section the bed? Or give that Studebaker the sleeper treatment—original on the outside, slip in an Avanti-style supercharged engine, add independent suspension all around with big, fat, sticky tires on steel wheels with stock hubcaps?

While wandering around the expanse of the Portland swap meet with our buddies lots of wacky ideas cropped up and were tossed around (yes, the Dodge and the Studebaker are examples). We sold a few parts, found a few we needed (and a couple we really didn’t) to haul home and bought a couple new parts from the array of vendors. There were several projects we were tempted by and some finished trucks that were hard to pass up. But that’s the great thing about swap meets you can do all those things or none of them. In any case we’ll be there again next April 13, 14, and 15 and so should you. CCT