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Swap-meet success: Papakura turns it on

18 October 2015


It’s early Sunday morning, the South Africans are battling the Welsh in a Rugby World Cup quarter-final, and, following that, the All Blacks are due to meet their nemesis — the French — at Cardiff. And yet, rather than stay in bed and enjoy a day of rest in front of the box, hundreds of hot rodders are up before dawn and heading for Papakura — such is the draw of the annual Papakura Hot Rod Club swap meet.

Held at Bruce Pulman Park, this is one of the year’s must-attend swap meets, and the dedicated ‘preferential parking’ area for hot rods, muscle cars, and classics is almost an event in itself. The quality and quantity of the cars that show up every year makes a lap around the car park almost compulsory, with a second or third lap needed due to the ever-changing line-up as people leave with their parts, or go out to get cash to buy something else.

I don’t know what it is about swap meets that makes seemingly normal people leave their warm homes to wander around in the cold, but they were there in their hundreds. They’d paw through piles of junk in the hope of finding an undiscovered treasure that they never knew they needed, or in some cases, searching for that missing part for their automotive puzzle. Whatever the case, it was great to see so many people out and enjoying their cars.

The Papakura swap meet may not be the biggest around, but it is pure automotive with no household jumble sales stuff allowed, making it one of the best around. From businesses to the guy clearing out his shed to fund, or make space for, a project, there was huge mix of new, old, and interesting stuff to delve through. In an age of Trade Me and eBay, it is amazing that swap meets survive, but for most I suspect it is as much about getting out there and catching up with old mates as it is about the parts chase.

While there weren’t many cars for sale this year, there were certainly a few bargains to be had for those that ventured there early and helped people unload their trailers to set up, while rifling through the contents at the same time. For me, it was a late-comer that cleaned me out, as I spotted a set of doors for my car standing up on his trailer as he came in. I have a lot of will power, but it’s the wont power I am lacking in — so, after a bit of negotiation, I now have a spare set of doors gathering dust in my shed. They’re something I don’t need, but one of those nice to have things as sixty year old parts are hard to find when you need them. That’s the joy of swap meets — you just never know what parts are going to find you, and that’s what makes these days so worthwhile!