Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel Curve

Cash is King at Turlock Swap Meet

The annual Modesto Area A’s Turlock Swap Meet has been a big hit for over fifty years, with tens of thousands of Californians coming out each winter (usually in damp, foggy conditions) in search of obscure old treasures. This year it was a pleasant 60 sunny degrees.

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel Curve

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveIn fact, it seemed that ALL of California made their way out to the Turlock Swap Meet the fourth weekend in January. Traffic was backed up for miles and cars began searching along the railroad tracks for an empty spot to find parking.

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveAsk any West Coast hot rod guy what his favorite swap meet in the Golden State is and they will undoubtedly blurt out ‘TURLOCK!” By looking over the massive Stanislaus County Fairgrounds, it would literally be impossible to see everything. Being the first major swap meet of the season out west, the good stuff is all here. Rare stuff too.

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveTurlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveWhen you cruise up to the gate, a small $10 fee gets you in (Just $5 on Sunday). It’s the best $10 you will ever spend if looking for vintage automotive treasure is your thing. Cash changes hands at a rapid rate here. Like a Chinese market, it’s all about the barter.

We marveled at the cars for sale, some in pristine condition, others in neglected disrepair, asking for a new start.

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveWe spotted a Mach 1 in what used to be Grabber Blue, now wearing a bit of patina but in otherwise pretty nice shape — certainly a car you can’t get anymore. Of course, each of the thousands of attendees here are looking for old items that you can’t find anywhere else.

In that regard there was an absolute plethora of old parts; plenty of old bumpers, intakes, carburetors, mirrors, and just about any other bolt-on item you could think of.

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveTurlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveThese items were in similar condition to the cars for sale here too – some in great shape, others covered in dust or taken over by rust. Even so, lots of the items were going for top dollar.

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveWhile it might not make sense to some why an old bit of stamped steel might fetch a few hundred bucks, if you’re on our website, we’re sure you just get it. That satisfaction after searching, sometimes for years, for the proper, matching part is bliss for car guys and gals. The final piece to the puzzle in a build or restoration is often the keystone. The “Built not bought” mantra fully applies here.Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel Curve

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel Curve

While you could find all manner of rare and out-of-production parts here, it wasn’t just cars and parts for sale. It really was a treasure chest of old goodies of all kinds, with the entire grounds chock-full with various memorabilia, license plates, scale models, old brochures, posters and more.

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveTurlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveIt’s awesome to pour over items like this, and we easily could have spent the entire weekend looking through the old-school mags that were lying around. A lot of today’s traditional hot rod builds are resourced from old magazine articles.

Swap meets like Turlock aren’t just about scoring rare parts or making money. It really is a lifestyle; hauling truck-loads of parts around the state and country doesn’t come easy but there are many swap lords dedicated to the gypsy road life, collecting and selling as they go.

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveTurlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveWhat makes meets like this so special is the wealth of knowledge and experience at hand. You can’t get that at any of today’s corporate auto parts stores. Here you can walk up to a gray beard and discuss what thermostat you should use on your flathead Ford V8 or what steering box best fits a ’40 Ford Tudor.

Turlock Swap Meet 2018, Fuel CurveThese swappers are sharp. They know what the value of vintage auto parts is at any given moment. But you can score deals if you look long and hard enough. And bring plenty of “fun tickets” with you because above all, cash is king here as well as any other major swap meet you might visit.

Turlock Swap Meet Photo Extra!

Trevor Ryan is a track day photographer from Northern California. He has experience in many different areas of photography but always comes back to automotive work in the end. To him, nothing is more rewarding than creating an amazing image of a car. Having purchased a ’66 Mustang almost six years ago, he had no choice but to end up immersed in car culture sooner or later. He also owns a ’99 Miata that he takes to the track. He has love for every part of car culture and besides track days often makes it to drift events, Cars and Coffee, tuner shows, and anything else he can find.