California Car Culture Returns To Pomona Swap Meet
Everything you’re looking for – and a lot you couldn’t live without
Everything you’re looking for – and a lot you didn’t know you couldn’t live without until you came across it – is all probably somewhere out there seven times a year in Pomona, California.
It’s the sheer joy of discovering the unexpected that is exactly what thousands of passionate car enthusiasts come to expect from the iconic Pomona Swap Meet & Classic Car Show – renowned as one of the world’s largest vintage automotive flea markets in the world, but the only show celebrated for oozing with the originality, authenticity and abundance for which California car culture is recognized.
Simply put: the Pomona Car Swap defies gravity – you feel its pull before you see it. Walking up to the Swap Meet’s main gate last Sunday at 6:30 a.m., surrounded by hundreds of car enthusiasts amidst a rare California inland fog so deep you could barely see the Starbucks cup in your hand, attendees were guided by the sheer, intuitive force of adrenaline-pumping energy that only true enthusiasts know. Here, at the Pomona Car Swap, the third this year since COVID restrictions were lifted, the anticipation of all that awaits on the other side includes 2,700 vendors spread out over 15 miles of aisles, each filled with the stuff car enthusiast dreams are made of.
As a fitting “necessity is the mother of invention” reflection of the car industry, the Pomona Swap Meet & Car Show’s origins are rooted in 1975 when Southern California car enthusiast George W. Cross III, frustrated in his needle-in-a-haystack search finding parts to restore his Model T Ford, brought together regional car aficionados to do what car enthusiasts do best – stand around drinking coffee while chatting about cars in the parking lot with the awe of watching pigs fly.
At the time the crowd barely filled up a parking lot – today each of the show’s seven shows annually draw an estimated 30,000 attendees, the majority of whom arrive when the gates open at 5:00 a.m. to navigate a sea of auto-related collectibles, parts, antiques, ephemera – you name it.
And there’s the cars. Oh, the cars. From vintage Model T’s, Porsches, and Corvettes to 21- and 23-Window Volkswagen Buses, International Harvester Scouts and Volkswagen Things (more than you’ve ever seen in one location at the same time), in varying conditions, shapes and sizes – the majority available for purchase on-the-spot with owners eager to sell so they can get the cash to buy another car at the show.
Did we mention this is a family affair of the highest order? It’s the kind of place that feels more like a family party where car enthusiasts’ kids are laughing hysterically running around cars playing tag, eating hot dogs and ice cream and every kind of food you’d expect at the State Fair, while their dads are kibitzing with one another over a hubcap.
The only thing missing (to some extent): partners (aka spouses), which if you’re the partner of an enthusiast of any sort, is exactly why having a hobby is good for the relationship. Space.
In the end, going to a great enthusiast event like this is a lot like going shopping at Target. You walk into the store on a mission for one specific thing, and you walk out in a daze hours later with a candle, throw pillow, Jenga set, three shirts, a bag of chips, a new water bottle, and a couple hundred dollars less in your wallet. Imagine that experience, but with car parts, accessories, trinkets, whatever. So it goes – it's all part of the Pomona Car Swap Meet experience.
Nobody does it better than Pomona. See y’all at the Swap.