NSRA Southern Swap Meet (Arena Essex)
I have always wanted to get to this swap meet, but I was never sure it was worth the long trip from Cumbria. Though many of my old Banger mates, have driven here, Raced, wrenched, fixed and wrecked then driven home all in one day.. so it cant be that far can it??
While on my chat room one night, I got talking to Craig (speedemon) Dixon who lives 60mile north of me in Penrith. Craig has recently purchased a 32 abandoned project, and also fancied going, so a plan was hatched. Luckily Craig's sister who lives about 20mins from the swap meet, was to have a new bathroom fitted by Craig, in a couple of weeks and Craig had been offered a Merc Van demonstrator for the weekend..... how could I refuse.. All was well until we got to the M25 and it was stationary, loads of cars were doing a U turn and pulling off onto an on ramp..... Crazeee but we followed... to be greeted by a sole motorbiker looking very bemused as we all filed past him, as he was trying to come up the on ramp.. Thank frig for sat Nav as the rest of the journey was down to that baby....
A nice overnight doss was offered at Craig's sister's, in exchange for unloading the van full of new bathroom ;o) (not really but that's what we did).. After a great few hours chatting over a Chinese takeaway and some Stella..... hey I was darn sarf nah and as I was in the posh side of the country I may aswell have posh Lager eh.... ;o) I did wonder what the sleeping arrangements were to be that night..... and when they laid out a double mattress with two pillows on the living room floor... I thought ohh ohhh????? fuk this!!! maybe this is some kind of weird Southern tradition or they are so open and modern things like this happen in their world... it sure weren't going to happen in mine, I thought. I know when Craig lays down on the mattress, I'll just crash on the sofa and Craig can have the comfy blow up mattress all to himself. Even if top and tail is offered.. I aint doing it no way ;o)
My fears were put to rest, when after brushing his teeth, Craig went to his room upstairs...... Ha Ha I laughed myself silly, trust me!!!!
A nice early enough on a Sunday start was done, all fresh from a good sleep, not feeling at all like we would, had we just done the journey, as I was originally going to do. Some fresh bacon sarnies and a couple of mugs of Coffee and all was well with the world, 20mins later we were at the swap meet.. I think it was around 9am and quite a few people were already there, looking eager if not frozen to.
We were allowed to buy entrance tickets and gained entrance to the standing area by 9.15 so we could get more coffee. In no time at all, the crowd behind us grew to monumental proportions, surely every Hot Rodder in Europe was here, and the sight of all those eager traders waiting for us was equally as mind blowing... was I glad to be here.. even if it was freeeezin and I was full of Man Flu... *sniff*
Now I am going to blame my lack of taking photos on my depressive cold symptoms, but really I was taken aback by the shear scale of this swap meet, it makes the Northern ( ha Northern er yeah) swap meet, look like a car boot sale with only one boot.. This is massive, I wanted to look at everything, and not waste time taking bloody photos. You could buy pretty much anything you would need for you project here, with just a few notable absences, like interior, wiring and light people etc. But I am sure, every Rod builder and Rod part supplier was there and doing big business from where I was stood..
I wont go into everything that happened, but I got to see most of the stuff on sale, though I missed out on quite a few bargains so I heard. If you were in the market for a Truck this was the place, from the 30's through to the 70's and a few cars 50's through 80's.. it is hard to remember. I wanted to have a good look round, then go round again, have a natter with people and take a few pics.. and no sooner had I got round and it was all starting to calm down and people were packing up and going home.
I did manage to get some parts, another set of rear lights after being badgered by several people that my choice of BMW Mini lights for my F100 are so bad that I will spoil the truck totally if I go ahead with my tasteless choice of rear appendage..... I still cant make my mind up what to use, one part says use the Mini ones they will look ok and be the all important safe choice, I will be seen by the normal car driving public.... the other side of me says.. no they are crass put some lights more period looking, like maybe caddy ones... the Rodding world will be more acceptable of this style... but they have been done before and surely it is all about being different eh. We'll see.
We did say we would go onto the Guildford Cruise in the afternoon, but time was getting on and we did want to See Sue Manners 29A Truck, that Langy had just built for her. So it was a trip first to Langy's good mate and long term Rodder Brian (Brizey) Lucas house, to see his cool 32 and his wife's wild 28A Phaeton. It is a one of the privileges this web site has gained me, getting to know such great and respected people from our scene, that I otherwise would never of had got to know.. I feel so proud and honoured sometimes... it makes me smile.. numpty old me, rubbing shoulders with great Rod builders.... Ha who would of predicted it? Not me, that's for sure... Rodding I love it ;o)
My Cold (read Man Flu) was not getting any better and the journey home was torture to stay awake with my eyes burning and just feeling so down, but it was the least I could do, as Craig had driven all the way there and was now driving all the way back...
Well I am sure glad I did make the effort down to the swap meet and yes I would do it all again next year. Though I wouldn't abuse Craig's sister and friends hospitality.... I would use a local hostelry.... also I heard a large contingent of Northern Rodders do the same each year and have a great crack in a local Hotel with a night of illicit alcohol and Hot Rodding tales.... The End!
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