Ray is the operator of the “Auto Expo” held at Qualcomm Stadium twice a year — on Memorial Day and Labor Day. “I used to do it ten times a year,” he says, “but I’m too old for that now.”
He expected 2000 attendees at the September 3 event, which included cars and motorcycles on display and an automotive swap meet. Most of those attending were male, but a few brought wives, children, or dogs.
The parking lot was filling up fast by 7:30 a.m. At 8:00, there was a pause in activity for the national anthem.
About 200 vendors filled the many rows of the swap meet section. Some buyers bring wagons or carts to haul their loot. Available were some new and many old parts and accessories: lights, steering wheels, license plates, fenders, tools, tires, engine parts, etc.
A shopper was amazed he found and bought a pair of old Chevrolet engine heads for only $80. Some prices are negotiable, while many are fixed. The best deals can be found earlier in the day.
Vendors and individuals come from LA, Riverside, and beyond. Plenty of Spanish conversation can be heard. A number of old-timers enjoy the time to pal around and tell jokes.
Several vendors have items that are not considered auto-related. At least a handful of sellers specialize in Hot Wheels toy cars, of interest to many of the young enthusiasts.
If someone is interested in a 1970s or older mini bike, go-cart, or bicycle, such deals may also be found. The September 3 show's vehicles numbered nearly 300 and included almost everything imaginable on wheels. Some are for sale while others are intended to impress and awe. There were stock VWs and Baja machines, Mustangs of every vintage, Chevys of many years, stock and custom 1920s and 1930s Fords, early dragsters, and dune buggies.
One 1970s Datsun Z had a small Ford V8; and a tiny Nash Rambler was fitted with a Toyota engine. Essentially, if it will fit, some guy with the time and money will make it happen.
I ran into my old friend Victor with his refurbished 1960s MG. He told me the engine had “only 500 miles and the paint was about two years old.” Victor doesn’t take it out much, but he enjoys the attention it gets.