La Roadster Show – A Hot Day at the Swap Meet
By John Drummond
Photos by Mike Harrington
The LA Roadster Show is iconic. Held since 1960, it is an annual Father’s Day hot rod tradition like no other. Held at the Fairplex event center in Pomona, California, the LA Roadster Show, put on by the Los Angeles Roadsters car club has become the largest gathering of pre-1936 roadsters in the world with over 800 in attendance annually. This year’s party was as festive as ever despite temperatures in the 105-degree range.
Our own Mike Harrington was on scene. But the assignment we gave him wasn’t to walk around and take car pictures. Instead, we assigned Mike to parking lot patrol and had him dive into the legendary swap meet which has become one of the most prized hot rod swap meets the left coast has to offer. The best part? It’s included in the price of your general admission ticket!
Just how big is the LA Roadster Show swap meet? They have close to 1,000 sellers offering row after row of hot rod gold catering specifically to early Fords. Guys save up their parts all year to come here (bypassing the Pomona Swap Meet in some cases), and you can find just about anything in here. You can even find Gene Winfield but he wasn’t for sale.
There is more to see and buy here than just early Ford stuff. We saw Lowrider cars and bicycles, we saw some way cool vintage trucks, and we saw some people who had cracked morning beers, some that walked around barefoot and some who probably live their life on the swap meet circuit. It was all in a day’s journey. And man was it hot! In the days prior to the show, a giant high-pressure system had parked itself over the great basin are out west resulting in scorching temps from Northern California southward and eastward towards Phoenix. Lets put it this way – the square miles of Fairplex blacktop had a little “give” to it.
The actual LA Roadsters Father’s Day car show is made up of two main fields. You have all of the pre-1936 roadsters in one section for the purists. Then in the other section, you have 1977 and earlier non roadsters, classics, hot rods, muscle cars, trucks, rat rods, kustoms and unfinished roadsters. Years ago, the club members realized this was the only way to keep the event afloat as pre-war Fords are incredibly bitchin’ but as the years have clicked off the calendar, tastes and hot rodding has evolved in many new found directions.
What we like most about the LA Roadster Show is its sense of tradition and preservation. Any event that has been around 57 years has stood the test of time and offered a quality experience for hot rodders and revelers. Living legends like Gene Winfield, Jerry Kugel, Roy Brizio, Dennis Varni, Alex Xydias, Greg Sharp and so many others are spied here. And those lost to the cause – names like Jack Stewart, John Buttera, Art Chrisman, Boyd Coddington Vic Edelbrock, Pete Chapouris and so many others So-Cal icons (both LA Roadsters members and not) are honored and legacies celebrated here.
It makes for a killer show. But maybe we can order up some cooler breezes next time!