Elsewhere in this publication I mention having an affinity for old rusty car parts.
Odd I know but true. Well April turns out to be a great month for some poor slob like me to get my rusty parts fix on. For the 52th year, that’s a long time isn’t it? The Portland Swap Meet has been taking place out at the EXPO Center.
The venue used to be called the Pacific International Livestock Exposition. I remember going to a rodeo there back in the early 60’s. The oldest building on Marine Drive has been there since about 1925. I recall a lot of the old buildings being wood beamed construction with dirt floors and livestock pens also made of wood. They were used for all kinds of livestock as the stock yards were next door and the Multnomah County Fair used to be held there.
The earliest year I remember going to the swap meet was in about ’76 or ’77 I think. I remember it to be immense back then and spread out all over the grounds, filling all the old buildings, parking lots, side of the streets, it was crazy. I’m not quite sure about this but I think back then it HAD to grow and the over flow went down the street to Portland International Raceway. Now of course and for some time, PIR has put on a “rival” swap meet at PIR starting one day sooner and ending one day sooner than the original Portland Swap Meet. I also recall some contentiousness between the two meets but that thankfully has dissipated and we get to enjoy two giant swap meets during the same week in April.
The weather was flawless this year, not the usual, and in fact not that often is it so nice. I find it amazing that cars and parts keep coming out of the woodwork so to speak year after year. PIR has evolved into kind of a family fun weekend for many who bring their campers, families and friends in addition to their cars, parts and other collectibles for sale or trade.
The PIR swap meet has grown steadily every year and it now covers the entire track, both sides all the way around as well as the pits/paddock area. Just think. That’s nearly two miles times 2, (both sides of the track) plus the paddock area of old car treasures. Business was brisk the days I was there too, with cars and parts changing hands from morning to night.
I’ve jokingly said that if you can’t find what you are looking for at these two swap meets then you don’t really need it. I’ve also heard said that the combined size of these meets make them the biggest swap meet in the west. They really are huge.
I heard languages being spoken that definitely weren’t from around here. Auzzies, Brits, Cannucks, Germans, French, and some others I couldn’t identify. Still, all friends of the old car hobby who obviously traveled from far away just for our little swap meets. I find it interesting how far reaching the old car hobby has grown. It shows me there are car nuts like us everywhere… WOW.
Of course it’s not hard to remember these continuing events but put them on your calendar for next year early anyway. And if you have ‘stuff’ that needs a new home, reserve your spot early to ensure that you get a spot. PIR was “Sold Out” this year!