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The Curtain Rises

It was busy wherever you looked

British hot rodders are a hardy bunch.  If you were to ask most motoring enthusiasts if they’d fancy rummaging around a scrap yard during the winter months, you’d probably get a negative response.  Hot rodders are not your average car enthusiasts, however, and spurred on by the promise of a bargain, the chance to meet up with old friends, and not knowing what little gem, new or old, might be uncovered, they turned out in their hundreds for this past weekend’s NSRA swap meet at a wind-blown Arena Essex.  The event, which kicks off the UK rodding season, is a popular one and now firmly established on the UK rodding calendar.

About 10.30am and the place is buzzing


Okay, if you want to be pedantic, the swap meet is not exactly a scrap yard.  It is more an organised collection of old tin, including individual panels to complete cars, being displayed by various vendors, plus a selection of hot rod component suppliers, including old favourites such as Duksville, Home Grown Hot Rods, R&R Hot Rod Imports, and Graham and Sue Rennie’s very popular American Auto Mags.  All seemed to be doing a roaring trade.

To buy or not to buy!


“It’s been as busy as I’ve ever seen it,” said Graham after the event.  “Moving the opening time from 8am to 10am has made it a little busier for all of the traders, but I think this has been a good move.  It’s a great event, and the first chance for many months to meet up with old friends again.  Well done to the NSRA crew for organising it – I sometimes think they don’t get the credit they deserve.”


Notable among the various cars offered for sale was David Greenfield’s ’49 Ford coupe, which many may remember met an unfortunate fate in France last year at the time of the Euro Nationals.  It was sad to see what was once such a stunning car in less-than-perfect condition.  All of the mangled metal had been removed, along with the motor/transmission, instruments and probably quite a lot more that we didn’t spot.  The formerly straight chassis rail that clearly took the brunt of the impact is now Z-shaped, and the body panel fit has also suffered.  No doubt it could all be put right, but it does appear there would be a significant amount of work involved in doing so.  If you are interested, call David on:  

If you reckon you could handle the work, make Dave an offer on 0772 5260018


At last year’s swap meet I went armed with £25 to purchase a Ford Popular grille to repaint and hang on my wall, but the cheapest I came across in decent condition was £45, so this year I went back with £45, only to discover the least expensive I could find was priced at £75.  There’s inflation for you, so I think I’ll just forget it!

Completely trimmed and painted body for under £1500


Anyone looking to build a Model A roadster would have been impressed by a fully fettled, painted and trimmed body, offered for sale by a vendor at under £1500.  It looked as if it had simply been plucked from the chassis of a fully functioning hot rod.  It would no doubt save an individual a lot of time and money compared with buying a bare ‘glass body and reworking it to suit.  It even had a lovely, pinstriped deck lid.

This 1941 Oldsmobile coupe was priced at £6,995. Call Jim on 07836 256786


A pretty amazing 1940s Oldsmobile, fresh in from Arizona, was another star attraction.  The side profile of the car was stunning, but to our eyes at least, the front had a somewhat awkward appearance, despite displaying what could only be described as some amazing, art deco-inspired styling.


There was also an apparently complete, but non-running, hot-rodded Model A pick-up, which was undoubtedly rough around the edges, but would certainly have been straightforward enough to sort out.  In addition, we saw several cars for sale – no names, no pack drill – carrying prices on them that, considering their condition, caused more than a raised eyebrow.  Let’s just say that, in our opinion, the vendors were being a little over-optimistic.   

Lots of old Chevy truck parts


Old Chevy trucks, and parts for them, were in abundance; it seems you can get virtually any part brand new for these models now, much in the same vein as you can for old Mustangs, Novas, and other American iron.  Model A tin work was also popular, and we spotted several vendors with good selections of used, but apparently pretty solid, body components on offer.  In general, though, there seemed to be fewer complete old cars for sale than in previous years, despite the still-favourable dollar-sterling exchange rate.

1948 Chevy Delivery was priced at £4750.  Call 07768 311842


All good things must come to an end, however, and by 2.00pm, some traders were starting to pack up.  By 4.00pm, all but the diehard few had left for home.  There was no doubt the event had been another resounding success for the hard-working NSRA crew, aided, no doubt, by the relatively pleasant March weather.  Had it not coincided with Mothering Sunday, there’s every likelihood the crowds would have been even larger, which must bode well for the upcoming hot rod season.


Story: Andy Kirk  & Graham Jones
Photos: Andy Kirk


Stock looking '40 Ford could be found in the car park

Plenty of blowers on sale including a brand new GMC 6/71

A couple of Model A pickups could be seen, but there were no prices 

This downsized drag racing Mercury clone was once an MG Magnette. It was offered for sale at £10k

Northants tyres put in an appearance with their latest wheel lines.  Anyone wanting to dye whitewall tyres black may be interested to know they will have some new product in stock for this purpose next month  

The car park contained some great machinery, including this pair of trucks

A new name to us (though we've seen that coupe before) was Juarez Traditional Fabrication. They had this Model A coupe and the race-inspired special on display.

Early 12 spokes on a dropped tube axle looked ideal for a Gasser project

How about a chopped and slammed London black cab? 

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