Wheeling and dealing
Auto and bike enthusiasts find the parts they need at two isle events that entice plenty of treasure hunters
LARRY BAIRD understands not everyone can see the beauty in a jumble of old car parts. But for the true auto enthusiast, a few hours in the bright sunshine, browsing through the remnants of dismembered vehicles, might just be the perfect way to spend a day off.
After all, that one part needed to complete the rebuilding of an old-time Ford, Chevy or Chrysler could be hidden among all the other treasures for sale at the "The Start of Summer" auto parts swap meet.
Larry Baird: Founder of "Summer" auto parts swap
AUTO PARTS SWAP
'The Start of Summer' Auto parts swap meet
Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 3
Place: Leeward Community College
IT&B CYCLE SWAP
Bike and cycling accessories garage sale
Hours: 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday
Place: St. Mark's Church, 539 Kapahulu Ave.
Cost: $5 admission; $4 Hawaiian Bike League members
"It's fun finding that part," said Baird. "A person could have something in their garage for 20 years, bring it in, and it could be just what someone else has been looking for. I'm finding that once a person finishes their project, they're not done. They'll be the next person to sell their stuff."
Ah, the leftover doohickeys and doodads.
Frank Smith can relate to selective swap meet fever: He has bought his share of items from the sale he has run for five years, the IT&B CycleSwap. The annual swap has become such a steady presence in the life of the Island Triathlon & Bike owner that he can barely remember a time it didn't exist. The first time, a line of 100 people was waiting to get in. The trend continues, he said.
"It's been a success beyond my wildest dreams," said Smith. "I usually buy a bunch of stuff. It's exciting when everyone starts haggling for stuff."
COMPARE the events to an "Antiques Roadshow" for cars and bikes -- although it won't be experts, but rather discerning swap-meet shoppers who will sift treasure from trash.
The idea is not unique: Smith fashioned the cycle swap after mainland events such as the Old Bike Swap Meet and Show in Seattle; the Road/Mountain Bike Swap Meet in Cupertino, Calif.; and the Old Bike Swap Meet in Vancouver, B.C.
Baird took his cue from the Pomona Swap Meet and Show, the granddaddy of such events, where 3,000 sellers peddle both parts and antique cars at cheap prices. "The Start of Summer" swap is not on that scale, Baird will tell you humbly, but he hopes it will be similar in nature. (The California swap meet, which is nearly 15 miles long, is held eight times a year. The next one is June 3.)
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Frank and Laura Smith hold up some accessories that are similar to the ones you can find at the Cycle Swap. Frank's holding a helmet and racing wheel, and Laura, a helmet, ssaddlebacks, GPS computer and a crank.
Baird has run his one-day show in the same place and at the same time since 2001 -- in summer and fall at Leeward Community College. He draws both weekend hot rodders and classic car collectors, as well as those who have lovingly built their pet projects from the ground up.
"Every year different people buy stuff and different people sell stuff," he said. "There's that guy in his early 20s who discovered a 1930 or '32 Model A. The young group is picking it up and carrying on. But the new cars, the Viper, the Magnum, that's where the hot rod enthusiast is heading."
Most of the car parts sold are for American cars 10 years old and older, and parts for antiques dating as far back as the 1920s can also be found. The 1930s in particular are a jackpot for parts hunters, though Baird is hoping to see more vendors selling foreign car parts to draw in more Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen owners.
Shoppers not interested in a rebuilding project might spot their dream car on display at the event's "Show 'N' Shine." They're welcome to make an offer, but sellers can be particular about whom they sell to, said Baird, even if the price is right.
COURTESY FRANK AND LAURA SMITH
Those attending last year's IT&B Cycle Swap were not disappointed by the many deals to be had.
Baird said he started the twice-a-year swap to fill his own need. Traveling to California, Arizona and Washington state for the big meets just isn't practical, and there was little to choose from at "poorly organized" local meets, he said.
"Years ago at Aloha Stadium, there would be four or five guys selling odd parts, and it wasn't always at the same place, and what I needed was just not available."
Baird himself has bought parts for the four Fords he has rebuilt: a 1930 five-window coupe, a 1931 five-window coupe, a 1931 Roadster and a 1955 F100. He has also bought an item or two he can't identify, things that make people scratch their heads. One of them, best he can figure, is a light from the back of an old caboose.
"A lot of the old guys who've been into cars didn't even know what it was."
LIKE BAIRD, Smith felt there was a need for a parts swap meet, where people can also find frames, tools, clothing gear and accessories, as well as used bikes on the cheap. The meet has been a hit with the average consumer, as well as the bike racing and triathlon community.
"Bikes are economical, not super-consumerism," Smith said. "So that did appeal to me, the economical side to trading stuff."
Thirty to 40 vendors will set up at the bike meet, with 10 percent of proceeds going to the Hawaii Bicycling League's BikeEd program and individual sellers pocketing the rest. Items for sale include handlebars, pedals, wheels, shifters and more. Smith said the second-hand items and overstock items will sell for a fraction of what they are worth.
"There's thousands of dollars worth of stuff," said Smith. "It's really more a service than a moneymaker."