Monday, March 15, 2010

Classic cars, auction, swap meet at Talladega Superspeedway

Three days of showing and selling classic cars and parts attracted more visitors than ever before to the relocated Alabama Antique & Classic Car Auction, Car Corral & Swap Meet, organizer says.

Moving the ‘Garage Mahal’ of Alabama automotive events to the infield of Talladega Superspeedway, February 26-28, 2010, was a success. “The show was a lot bigger than it was in Birmingham,” said Bill Chapman, owner of Alabama Antique Automotives and the event’s founder. Prior to moving, the event was held at the Birmingham Fairgrounds (
see more here) the last 28 years. The new venue, at Talladega, has more room for the event to grow. Larger crowds, more vendors and cars are signs of growth. Reaping the dividends of the expansion may take some time. Costs associated with hosting the event at a larger venue were much higher. Chapman says, “It may take two or three years to become profitable.”

Inclement weather played a factor in low attendance on Friday. Chapman said that cool temperatures and strong winds gave organizers a “tough time, especially setting up on Thursday.”  On Friday, Talladega Superspeedway offered rides around the track in a Pace Car to winners whose ticket numbers were pulled from a hat.

Saturday was the busiest day of the event. The auto auction and car show,  were featured attractions Saturday along with warmer temperatures. Automobile tags from as far away as Oklahoma and Missouri were spotted in the spectator parking lot near Turn 2 of Talladega’s infield on Saturday.


Auction action
More than 120 cars were up for auction in the Sprint Cup garage on Saturday. Buyers and curious onlookers strolled across the shiny red and blue garage floor. Some were inspecting their dreamcars. Most were dreaming. Cars to be auctioned were parked in the garage before they were driven to the auction block.  Once sold or not making the minimum bid price, vehicles were parked in a surface lot behind the garage. A handful of non-running vehicles were auctioned for a few hundred dollars at the beginning of the auction. It pays to get there early. Most of the auction vehicles went unsold. “People think cars are still worth what they were in 2006,” Chapman says. “Approximately 40 cars were sold at the auction.”



Car show
More than fifty classic cars were on display that weren’t for sale or auction. The Dixie Vintage Auto Club hosted an Antique & Classic Car Show on Talladega’s pit road. Gary Adams, vice president of the club, was hopeful that more cars would have attended. Rain clouds likely played a role in keeping the show field numbers down. “Our hope is that it will grow into a huge event for our state that will rival the Charlotte Auto Fair and other similar events,” said Adams. Spectators viewed a wide range of show vehicles. From Packards to Plymouth Road Runners, there was something for everyone. The chance to lounge in the tri-oval grass and climb the track’s steep banking attracted a few wandering car nuts as well.



Last day deals
The last day of the event may have been the best day to get a deal. Vendors and car sellers were ready to let go of their wares. “Sunday was teardown day. A lot of deals were made in the car corral and swap meet area.,” said Chapman. Some cars that didn’t make the minimum bid at auction were sold to buyers who weren’t ready to go home empty handed. Vendors also found their bottom price on items they didn’t want to haul home.
“I know of a few deals or trades that were made the week after the show too,” offered Chapman. Keep that in mind. You might want to grab the phone number off that hot rod you can’t afford today. It might be cheaper tomorrow.


Future plans
The task of moving and reshaping the 30-year-old event from the Birmingham Fairgrounds to the infield of Talladega Superspeedway was a challenge. Chapman is optimistic about the future. He wants this event to be a must-see for the southeast. “I have spoken to track officials and we will be back next year,” Chapman says. He is also exploring the idea of including a NASCAR-type driving/ride-along activity to give event-goers more to see and do at the track.

Did you go to this event? Post a comment below or shoot me an email here


Corvair Greenbrier van - $1,200, runs good needs brakes


1955 Chevrolet Bel Air 2-door hardtop in the car corral 

1957 Cadillac Eldorado in the Dixie Vintage car show.

This 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass SX sold for a few hundred bucks.

Rare 455-cubic inch Cutlass SX - rumored to have sold at auction for $650

1971 Plymouth Duster