Bargain Hunting In The Dark

May 21st, 2019

If you own an interesting motor vehicle you may well have trawled through the rows of someone else’s junk (punctuated by the occasional treasure) that define a typical automotive swap meet.

A couple of hundred such events are staged every year throughout Australia. Most occur within or close to the nation’s most populated regions and in Sydney or Melbourne from February to November there will be at least one swap every weekend. However, it is some regional meetings that attract the largest gatherings of sellers and buyers.

Bendigo in Victoria and Toowoomba 150 kilometres west of Brisbane host two of Australia’s most extensive swap meets; each featuring several hundred stalls with millions of dollars worth of parts and even entire cars changing hands in the course of a frantic weekend of selling.

Autumn and winter are traditionally the seasons when swap meet activity accelerates. They are cooler which makes attendance more pleasant and less exhausting for vendors and visitors. These seasons also encompass the months when days grow shorter and early starts see sellers unloading in pitch blackness and with frost crunching underfoot.

Most swaps open their gates to buyers at 6am, but even then the skies are still dark and experienced swappers will come equipped with torches and trolleys.

Commercial vendors, some with trucks or large trailers and elaborate displays, are regular features of major swap meets. However it is the individual vendors, with items retrieved from under garage benches and back-yard sheds, who often provide the greatest fascination for swappers and some ultra-rare items.

Vendors might not be entirely sure what a part might be or where it came from. While that leaves plenty of scope for negotiation on price it can also lead to mistakes being made, so if you are replacing a broken or badly rusted component bring some photos of the one you have to compare with the one you’re considering buying.

Always assume you are going to find some of the larger items needed for an incomplete restoration and have some way of transporting them home. A couple of mudguards, a bonnet or complete engine aren’t going to fit easily into the boot of a conventional car, so owning or borrowing a van or trailer is recommended.

Chat when standing around the coffee van or waiting for the inevitable bacon and egg breakfast burger can provide useful leads. Also, wearing a sign or sandwich boards listing what you need will often see somebody walk up and say “I saw a bloke down the end of Row X with some of those.”

Sometimes automotive swaps can morph into generalised junk sales, but even then, ferreting amongst the sets of battered kitchen canisters can turn up the occasional automotive gem.

What a lot of owners overlook when accumulating a collection of irreplaceable and quite valuable bits is the need to insure their project – even if it is a clapped out ‘barn-find’.

Enthusiast Insurance are specialists in cover for vehicles under restoration or in storage. Take a look at the web-site www.enthusiast.com.au for background on Enthusiasts’ full range of vehicle insurance products then give our Enthusiast team on 1800 10 10 44 to get a quote and arrange cover on your restoration project.

Leave a Reply