I recently attended the 56th Annual Portland Auto Swap Meet, a huge event that’s held at the Portland Expo Center and it’s equally huge parking lot. The three day swap meet had been canceled for the last two years because of the pandemic. Now it had triumphantly returned, and I got the feeling that many car enthusiasts were happy to return to some kind of normal.
I’ve lived here for over twenty years and had never gotten around to attending the event. I need to stop being such a couch potato. This was such fun, that I’ll be returning every year. If you are an old fart like me, that kind of likes interesting old cars and trucks and all the junk that goes along with them, you were suddenly a kid in a candy store. It could have been a “Curbside Classic Convention”.
There was so much to see, and I took so many pictures, I’ve separated the story into two parts. In this post, we will look at some of the cool cars I found for sale on my visit. My next post will take a look at some amazing old trucks, along with some motorcycles and other neat vehicles I saw at the swap meet.
Here is why I like this swap meet better than the “New Car Auto Show” I attended in February. That show was full of brand new transportation appliances. They are wonderful modern cars with all the safety, performance and infotainment systems available. But many of them are bland, front wheel drive, ipads with 4 wheels and a CVT. To top it all off, new cars are now so expensive I couldn’t afford any car at that show.
Now the swap meet is a different story. This is the land of the hooptie. There are beat up old cars here that actually put a smile on your face. They are affordable. If you have the skills, tools, space and a little money, there is the possibility of turning somebody’s old jalopy into the car of your dreams without breaking the bank.
I’ll be honest here. I am unlikely to be able to afford a nice new car anytime soon, and turning a project car into my dream car is equally as unlikely. But as long as I’m going to daydream, I’ll be thinking about these cool old beaters not dreaming about car payments.
Let me start off with this sharp looking 1953 Mercury. The owner was asking $16,000 for this one. There are cars I’ll show here that I failed to get the make, model, year or price of. I’ll list what I know.
A $7,500 1961 Studebaker Hawk that looks to have a lot of potential. I recently saw a nicer one of these on BaT go for quite a bit more than that.
I liked this old Plymouth. Nice patina with a clear coat, and very cool headlight covers. The simple flathead straight six engine looks like a cast iron suitcase. The owner was asking $3000. I love it, but I’m not sure what I’d do with a car like this.
This beautifully restored 1963 Porsche 356 looked almost out of place among the well worn cars and trucks I saw that day. I was there on Sunday morning and many people had reduced their asking price to get their cars sold. Not this Porsche. It got marked up to $90K.
I love the “Gangster Look” of this ’38 Oldsmobile Straight 8. If money wasn’t an issue, I would fully restore it on new skateboard style EV chassis. It would make a fantastic electro-restomod. The owner wanted $5500 for it.
I found this ’57 Chevy refreshing. So many of these are restored to beyond perfect condition that they become nothing but rolling art that can’t be driven or enjoyed. This is one you could park at the local Walmart and not worry too much about. Under the hood, things look much fresher. The owner wanted $17,500.
Has there ever been a happier little car than the Nash Metropolitan? This 1957 has less than 20 thousand miles and has had only 3 owners. It could have put a smile on your face for $15,000.
Here is a beautiful 1967 Oldsmobile 442 Convertible. This nicely restored car was in near perfect condition. The owner wanted $60,000 for you to take it home.
Mopar fans will enjoy these next cars. I’ll begin with this 1964 Plymouth Belvedere. I’m not sure of the price on this one.
This poor 1965 Barracuda is probably too far gone to save. If you see this much rust on the outside, just imagine what’s hiding underneath. It would likely make a good parts car, I didn’t notice the price.
This 1915 Dodge Touring car isn’t exactly stock, but it’s 106 years old, so I’ll cut it some slack. Its engine is an early 80’s Chevy V-8. It has Mustang II front suspension and a Pinto rear end and brakes. What a particle little commuter for only $9,500.
I’m a Finn who loves fins. This 1956 Plymouth Belvedere 2 door hardtop was a real beauty. With only 16K original miles, this one has a 3 speed manual with overdrive and it looks like it’s ready to cruise. You could have driven this one home for $38,995.
You don’t see many of these around, even in Portland. This 1960 Morris Minor convertible was going for $15,500.
If you fancy Fords, there were plenty of interesting ones to look at. This 1960 Square Bird is a beautiful two owner California car with 98K miles. The owner wanted $17,500 for this one.
This 1967 Mustang looks pretty clapped out, but maybe that’s actually a good thing. I’ve heard you can get just about any parts you would could possibly need to restore one of these. So with proper time, talent and money, this old pony is a blank canvass to make the classic Mustang of your dreams.
Can you say patina? This solid looking 1961 Ford Galaxie Starliner was near top of the line back in its day. It had a sold sign on the windshield. I hope the new owner can bring it back to its original glory.
Since you missed out on the Galaxie above, this 1961 Mercury Meteor 800 had its price slashed in half. For only $2000 it looks like it would be a cool project car for the right person.
I bet you haven’t seen one of these for a while. But I have questions? Did someone fill in the round window in the rear that these wagons had, or did Ford actually make a plain panel version? Still it’s super rare and in beautiful shape. Try and find another 1980 Pinto like this for the $8795 asking price.
I was so taken by this minty 70’s Econoline Van and Cougar that I didn’t get any info about them. They were an identical shade of green that many Fords of the time wore.
Let’s finish up this tour with a look at some interesting old wagons. This 1950 Pontiac was a work in progress. It has a late 70’s six cylinder Nova engine. They wanted $16,500 for it.
Here is a beautiful 1962 Buick Invicta wagon. This was the last year most GMs’ had curved a-pillars and I think they looked a little old fashioned by that time.
I like this Chevy wagon. The tires and wheels tell me it just might make a little more power than it originally did. Do you think the patina is real? And would you keep it this way or would you give it a proper paint job? I didn’t see the price.
This 1949 Plymouth Suburban would likely be a hit at your local Cars and Coffee. Imagine how much fun this would be for weekend camping trips? Lots of character here for $11,500.
Well, that’s it for this post. I only showed you the cars here. There was so many interesting things to look at, it was difficult to see everything. In my next post I’ll be looking at a bunch of cool old trucks as well motorcycles and much more. There was so much more to see. You can check out even more of these photos in my Flickr album.
The Portland Auto Swap Meet is an annual event and if you live anywhere near the area, you owe it to yourself to attend the next one. I’ll be going every year from now on. It was great fun.