Words and Photos by Dubspeed Media Staff, Donald Bond


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The piercing shriek of the alarm clock awakens me at 2:30am. It’s time to get up and head to the Pomona Swap Meet and Car Show. You’re probably asking yourself why I’m waking up at 2:30am to go to a car show – well, the Pomona Swap Meet is not your every day, run-of-the-mill swap meet. The Pomona Meet is the Hershey Car Show of the West Coast. There are thousands of cars and trucks of all vintages in attendance at this event. According to event officials, the swap meet and show areas of the grounds stretch 15 miles long, typically filled with over 4,000 vehicles for show or sale. Back to why I woke up at 2:30am – the show starts at 5am and ends at 2pm. No, that’s not a typo, this meet starts before some people have even gone to bed from the night before. Since I live in the Central Valley of California, Pomona is two and half hours away. Even being a devoted and passionate automotive enthusiast, I was still reluctant to get up that early in the morning. I dragged myself out of bed thinking “this event had better be good.”

As the sun was coming up over the mountains, Pomona-type vehicles were littering the highway with their presence. Following these cars was like following a trail of breadcrumbs to find my way; I knew I was headed in the right direction. Pulling into Fairplex where the Pomona Swap Meet and Show was held was like heading to a Rolling Stones concert – there were thousands of cars and trucks in what seemed to be an endless line leading to the gate. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to park fairly close to the front gate. You see, if you arrive late, you’ll have to walk a mile or two to get to the front gate. So, unless you REALLY enjoy walking (keep in mind there are 15 more miles of walking once inside), it’s best to arrive to Pomona as early as possible.


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The Pomona Swap Meet and Car Show is essentially divided into 5 distinct areas. This year, Porsches had the first corral, followed by Volkswagens, onto street machines & street rods and finishing at the other end with the Corvettes. The Swap Meet of parts was also divided up the same way, which was to the right of the main roadway.

Once at the gate, I paid my $8 to get into the event and oh-my-goodness…there were cars and trucks as far as the eye could see. With Pomona Raceway on one side and the airport on the other, cars from fully restored to “another man’s treasure” filled the raceway parking lot. I was in my own automotive heaven.

Upon my arrival, I was immediately drawn to the Porsches. Being an avid concours participant, I was not all that impressed with this year’s stable of Porsches; most of them being daily drivers. There were a few Porsche 356 Coupes that presented well for the street, but nothing close to what you would see at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. But then again, concours cars are not what this show is all about. The car I admired most in this stable was a 1969 Porsche 912 Targa. Visiting with the owner, I found that the car had originally come from the factory wearing a pea green color, but he’d had the car repainted several years ago in a burgundy metallic. Much better I say. It sported 16 inch polished Fuchs wheels that filled the fender wells perfectly. Owning one myself, I’m a sucker for the vintage 911 body styles.


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After going through the small corral of Porsches, I made my way over to the Volkswagens. This is what I really came to see as I’ve heard that the best Volkswagens in the country come through Pomona – and I was NOT disappointed! You name it, and it was here. Everything from vintage Beetles to Buses in every color and combination were on display. And by everything, I mean everything from factory original to full-on custom. I’m partial to black cars, so there were a few “hot” black beetles at the show that really caught my eye. Some were for sale while others for were strictly for show. I had to keep myself away from my wallet because there were a few examples I really wanted to drive home!


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The one Volkswagen that really stood out in my mind was Brian Gutierrez’s 1962 23-Window Bus. This example was fully restored top to bottom, and in my opinion probably looked better now than when new! The Bus was salmon and white with a bone-colored vinyl interior – simplicity at its best. This Bus was so clean that you could eat off the undercarriage…if eating upside down is your thing. The project had taken Brian 7 years to restore, which is exactly same amount of time he has owned it. He used all original parts to ensure a correct restoration of his VW Bus. Yes, it is for sale – for a mere $60,000. An offer of $50K was turned down, if that’s any indication of Brian’s passion. In my simple opinion, this Bus is so good, it’s probably worth its asking price. As if Brian’s VW fanaticism wasn’t enough, he’s also a Porsche 356 guru. He runs a 356 shop called Jim Gordon’s Restoration in Paramount, California. Anywhere from 40 to 50 Porsches are currently in his shop and he can do anything your heart desires. Want your 356 restored? How about an Outlaw? There’s a 5 year waiting list, so you should call him now. I’ll be heading there in September for an exclusive interview with Jim Gordon and Brian Gutierrez. Stay tuned for an upcoming Dubspeed Driven feature on the shop.


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Next, I made my way over to the street machines and street rods that dominated the swap meet. I don’t even know where to begin, but will let most of the photos speak for themselves. From deuce coupes to leadsleds and lowriders, they were all here waiting for you to take them home. It was hard to point at a favorite as I was walking around in an overwhelmed daze the entire time. I mean, where else could you go and see over 3,000 hotrods in one spot? Most vehicles were even driven in under their own power. If it was sitting on a trailer, it was either “ready-to-be-restored” or it was a “Trailer Queen”. Everyone I met was very personable and accommodating for me to photograph their prized possessions, dispelling the stereotype that the hot rod / street rod crowd can be a cantankerous bunch.


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As I was making my way to the Corvette section, I heard a loud rumble coming from behind me. Feeling my insides beginning to shake, I had my suspicions as to what the source might be, and as I turned around I was right…a blown engine. No, not a blown-up engine, but a pro-street style 1963 Ford Falcon convertible with an 871 blower sticking through the hood and almost over the windshield! As I watched, a police officer on a scooter pulled him over. I just had to photograph this funny scenario unfolding before me. Shortly afterwards, a patrol car pulled in behind him. Yet another patrol car drove up and blocked him in from the front. Both officers got out and walked over to the driver with that not-so-nice look on their faces. One officer, in a stern tone, told the driver to step out of the vehicle. Meanwhile, my smile grew as my camera was clicking away at this point. The officer asked him again, “step out of the car”. A few words were exchanged and a third time, the officer repeated his command. At this point, I was quite curious as to what was going on. The driver, who was in his late 50’s or early 60’s, simply refused to get out of the car. I asked around to some of the bystanders what the fuss was about. Apparently, Gramps had performed a full burn-out in the crowded parking lot, and the officers caught up with him. Now here’s the funny part: Gramps didn’t have his driver’s license with him when he decided to play Don Garlits. A few more words were exchanged between the driver and the officer before both officers got back into their cars and pulled away to let Gramps crank it back up and move along. Turns out the officers decided to let Gramps drive his car straight to the police station where they were going to put him under arrest. This way he didn’t have to leave his car at the show and have it impounded. The irony of this story? The Falcon’s license plates read: GO2JAYL.


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After the police ordeal came the Corvette Corral. It was essentially the same as the Porsche’s, mostly daily drivers and late-model iron lined up on the asphalt. I scoped out a few of the vintage cars and one overly done C5 named Blue VelVette. It sported vintage gills with a silver cove over dark blue paint. The six exhaust tips and spinners on the wheels made it look as though it had just come from an episode of Pimp My Ride. Pretty classy eh? I’ll let you take a look at the photos and come to your own conclusions.


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After a very long day, I had satisfied my hunger for seeing wonderful examples of automotive history. I suggest that everyone try to attend the Pomona Swap Meet and Car show at least once in their lifetime. Don’t forget to bring your checkbook though – with so many cars for sale, it would be hard not to take one of these beauties home. Remember one thing however…come early as the Pomona Swap Meet and Car Show motto says it all: The early bird gets the worm! Or in this case, the early bird gets the best deal!


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Zerin Dube

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