Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

One man's trash is another man's treasure

Local swap meet a bonanza of bargains

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Last Sunday, the Manitoba Classic and Antique Auto Club (MCAAC) hosted its annual Red River Valley Swap Meet at the Red River Exhibition Park.

A swap meet is not only a perfect opportunity to make some room in your garage and earn a few extra bucks, but also a great place to find those last few missing pieces for that mechanical puzzle you've been working on. And it's a great place to meet up with old friends and make a few new ones.

With more than 200 vendors peddling a nice assortment of car, truck and motorcycle parts as well as a wide variety of related memorabilia, there was something for even the most discriminating buyer.

"It was one of the better swap meets I've been to," said Rolly Tougas, who came in from St. Anne. "I found fenders and ignition parts for my '27 Dodge Brothers roadster pickup and lots of miscellaneous stuff I needed for projects I have on the go."

Tougas, superintendent of the millwright and iron worker division at Derksen Mechanical Services, also noted that buying from locals gives him the chance to make a few new friends.

"If someone has the parts that you're looking for, odds are good they also have the same interests as you," he said. "Over the years I've made many friends at swap meets."

Tougas is a proud member of the Riff Raff Car Club, a rag-tag crew of local hot-rodders who build cool cars and trucks on a shoestring budget. His homemade wagon, complete with whitewall tires, was the perfect vehicle to haul away all the treasures he found.

Among the many vendors at the swap meet was a local legend. Long before Google there was Brian Buchan, or Softy, as he's known to everyone in the car scene. Softy, who is 73, has been the local authority on all things custom since he opened Softy's Speed Shop way back in 1960.

"The first thing I sold was a set of fender skirts for a '56 Plymouth convertible," he recalled with a twinkle in his eye. He said his favourite memory over the years was when he and his wife Joyce, who celebrated their 50th anniversary last year, opened the original Softy's Speed Shop at 939 Notre Dame Ave.

"My wife and myself put that store together before we were married."

Though he's now retired, Softy's Speed Shop continues to live on with his son, Brian, running the shop, now located at 1674 St. James Street. But Softy still spends a couple of days a week there, and he never misses the local swap meet.

It's not just a chance to clear out a few oddball parts, but also an opportunity to meet up with old friends, he said.

"I had a guy here from Kenora today who said he hadn't seen me for 30 years, and he shook my hand and said it was nice to see me again. There's a lot of that in this business -- your customers become your friends."

Attendance was strong this year, with an estimated 2,000 swappers sifting through the treasured remains. Hats off to swap meet chairman and MCAAC member Gordon Burnette and the sea of smiling volunteers who organized this year's meet. Money and food was also collected for Winnipeg Harvest.

The Manitoba Classic and Antique Auto Club is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, restoration and admiration of classic vehicles. Members go to great lengths to restore or preserve their machines to factory condition.

Club members' vehicles include old-time cars with wood wheels and skinny tires as well as exotics, muscle cars, trucks, vans and even motorcycles. The criteria is pretty simple: the vehicle must be 25 years or older and stay true to the original "as manufactured" form.

The club has been in existence since Feb. 14, 1960, when the first meeting was held in the board room of the old Winnipeg Free Press building on Carlton Street. As well as being one of Manitoba's oldest car clubs, the club is also one of the largest, with more than 200 members. For more information on the MCAAC, check them out on the web at mcaac.mb.ca

Don't forget to shine up your classic or special interest vehicle for the first official Sunday night cruise of the season. Show and shines will be held at both the Tavern United on Regent Ave. and the Grant Park Pony Corral restaurant. The fun kicks off at both venues Sunday at 4 p.m.

willy@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 17, 2013 F2

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