This year’s Swap Meet & Cool Car Showroom lasted from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and included an indoor showroom at the center. By mid-afternoon, many wanderers in the parking lot had found shade elsewhere, away from the sweltering 97-degree heat and only a few braved the aisles looking for small car parts or collectibles.
Every square inch of pavement was taken by boxes of rusted auto parts, each piece valuable to someone with an antique or collectible auto, or collections of model car toys, oil cans from yesteryear, radiators that once played news and shows for families who gathered around them at night. There were shirts, red wagons, mid-century serving trays from diners or pubs, beer signs and faucet handles by the hundreds.
And then came the reminders of Hot August Nights with the car memorabilia, and collectible cars for sale in every condition – from rusted bodies to full-blown, ready-to-show beauties.
One vintage beauty that caught most collectors’ eyes was a 1954 cherry-red and chrome Chevy Bel Air, as if Marilyn Monroe had just parked her car and stepped out to have a look around. Another was a white 1960s VW Bug convertible in mint condition.
Rita Potts of Reno and her husband were readying their classic 1966 maroon Mustang striped in sparkly dark blue in the heat at the Events Center on Wells Avenue Thursday afternoon as temperatures rose into the upper 90s.
“We bought the car here at an auction and now we need to sell it,” Potts said. “I liked it. We even belonged to the Mustang Club.”
Her husband was busy fixing the handwritten price tag of $9,500 on the windshield as he chatted with a passerby.
The couple enjoyed the car for nearly 10 years, Potts said, but it mostly sat in the garage. The car was reupholstered while they had it and they did use the collectible muscle car, but only rarely.
“We’re gonna lose money on it,” Potts said. “But the only time we used it was at Hot August Nights and we don’t have that much room.”
When vendor Dan Davis was asked what his favorite item was on his tables and shelves that he sat behind, he said: “It’s like asking who your favorite kid is!”
It has taken Davis 40 years to gather the piles of miniature cars and other items for sale Thursday, including his 1960 Airstream trailer.
“I’m partying in it tonight,” he said. “This is basically a hobby out of control and my wife wants the barn cleaned out.”
Tyler Pedersen, of Pedersen’s Petro Retro, was surrounded by refurbished gas pumps, lights and vehicle-related, usable pieces, including a retro phone booth.
“We pretty much refinish everything,” Pedersen said.
Pedersen took advantage of Hot August Nights by visiting the local casinos this week, as it was his second trip to Reno, but his family has sold their wares for a few years, he said.
Shawn Waggoner of Sparks braved the heat as he strolled the aisles in search of rare parts for his gold 1965 Buick Riviera. The enthusiast visits each year in search of that rare piece for his vehicle, he said.
“Every once in a while a luck upon it,” Waggoner said. “With all the vendors out here (it’s possible),” Waggoner said. “So far, it seems to be a lighter crowd. It’s usually much more crowded.”
John Marcinko of RJ & Antique Collectibles said he has 25 years of collecting under his belt – and it showed, with the hundreds of beer tap handles that were on display for sale at the swap meet.
From rare to ordinary, Marcinko said he had seen a great deal of business Thursday, with one man buying more than $650 worth of the tap handles.
The Swap Meet & Cool Car Showroom at the Livestock Events Center will again take place today from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. With so many events to attend this year, the swap meet is one event that some might not want to miss.