WPC Winter Swap is a Mopar® Picker’s Delight!

There’s a saying that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. That’s certainly true when we go digging through a person’s garage, barn, backyard or storage unit. For those engrossed in the Mopar® hobby, the annual WPC Winter Swap Meet that’s been held every year in the Detroit area for the last few decades is the place where you can find virtually anything for your vintage Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler vehicle under one roof, the Macomb Sports and Expo Center. Located on the grounds of the Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan, there was plenty of space to check out the rarities being brought in by the many vendors. Inside, we saw rows of tables stacked with everything from vintage intake manifolds, cylinder heads and valve covers, to obscure printed promotional material, dealer training filmstrips and the obligatory fleets of diecast and plastic model cars in varying scales and still packed in their faded boxes. Also strewn on the tables were long strips of stainless-steel chrome trim resembling some piece of modern art you’d see at the National Gallery. Someone saw the value in these items and carefully peeled them off some rusting car while it was rotting back into the earth. If anything, the vintage car hobby was an early adopter for recycling parts and could be the poster child for the “Green Movement”.

While there’s no shortage of parts at the WPC Winter Swap Meet, we also saw old, worn and faded “Dodge” and “Chrysler/Plymouth” signs that once adorned the outside of small hometown, one-car showroom dealerships. Decades ago, these signs would light up the night sky and become beacons for the brand as motorists drove by. There were also huge posters that at one time lined the showroom walls announcing the new models and encouraging potential buyers to “Trade Up.” Over the years, these marketing items got tossed in dumpsters behind the dealership’s body shop when they closed their doors for good. The signs and posters that did survive and make it to the swap meet find a new life adorning one’s “mancave” or race shop. But for many of the swap meet attendees, they’re there for the hardcore car parts that in some cases have been obsolete since Richard M. Nixon was president. The swap meet regulars are experienced, price savvy, and have done their research and due diligence and come armed with cliff notes listing casting and part numbers. These folks are like detectives, sorting through the piles of aluminum and cast-iron engine parts while wiping off a half-century of grease and grime. They’re looking clues that indicate the correct “date-code” stamped somewhere on the part. Talk about hardcore! They know what to look for and if their car is undergoing massive restoration, the right parts will give even more provenance if and when it ever rolls across the stage at Barrett-Jackson or Mecum. Some 30 years ago, who would’ve thought something as drab, dull and mundane as a car’s windshield wiper motor could add to its value? This Mopar hobby is populated with sleuths that know all about date codes, date stamps and assembly line markings. Yes, the WPC Swap Meet has virtually anything that would pique the interest of any casual or hardcore Mopar gearhead.

To plan and organize the WPC Winter Swap Meet, there are many integral volunteers who put in long hours. It’s not for money or even glory. They do it for the love of the hobby and want to see it thrive and continue for the next generation of enthusiasts. One of those folks is David Radcliffe who’s the Parts and Service Director at Golling Roseville Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram along with Roseville Moparts. For decades, David has put a lot of time and effort into the growth of the swap meet and is well known within the Mopar community for his extensive knowledge for every nut, bolt, washer, weatherstrip, emblem, decal and just about anything else that’s needed when tackling a full-on restoration of a 1960s or early 1970s Dodge or Plymouth muscle car. “I’ve been involved in the WPC Swap Meet for 25 years and help with coordination with the folks at Macomb Community College in mapping out the swap meet within the Expo center. I help handle the contracts and other duties to make sure the event goes off without a hitch. This year, we’ve seen more vendors signing up and we were up by 35 percent on attendees coming through the doors. Once this event is over, we immediately start planning next year’s swap meet,” smiled Radcliffe.

Speaking of volunteers, many members of the Walter P. Chrysler (WPC) Club also donate their time and energy for their annual swap meet. Many of these folks are Chrysler Retirees who are still very passionate and loyal to the company they served for many years. One such individual we saw manning the doors and making sure the event was hitting on all eight was Igor Gronowicz, a 25-year member of the WPC Club. “There’s a lot of organization that goes into this swap meet. Our members who help out are here days before the doors open setting up tables and marking off vendor spots. Come Sunday, we’re ready for crowds. I’m a Chrysler guy and wanted to be a part of the WPC Club that brings people together who love Chrysler products. I started at Chrysler in 1965 as a draftsman designing seats, I worked to become a project engineer in the design office until I retired in 2001,” said Gronowicz. When ask about his thoughts on the current state of the old car hobby, especially when it comes to vintage and iconic Dodge and Plymouth performance machines, he had this to say, “Last week, I watched the Barrett-Jackson auction on TV and couldn’t believe the prices some these Mopar muscle cars were going for! My fear is the average ‘Joe’ is being priced out of this hobby.” There’s some truth to Gronowicz’s observations and it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.

Regardless on how the hobby is trending, one vendor at the WPC Winter Swap Meet was doing robust business. Mancini Racing has been around since the early 1970s and was the first Direct Connection Parts Warehouse Distributor. They rolled into the Macomb Expo Center with an enclosed trailer packed full of go-fast parts for Mopar small blocks, big blocks and HEMI® engines. “We love coming to the WPC Winter Swap Meet and supporting the community. This is a great event to break out of the winter doldrums and get us all thinking about spring, summer and getting our Mopars out for a cruise or to the drag strip,” said Rob Cunningham, General Manager at Mancini Racing. “The crowds here were great and there’s a lot of value in seeing our customers face-to-face, talking to them about their cars and sharing their passion.”

Another longtime vendor that drove up from Columbus, Ohio, was Jeff Johnson of Jeff Johnson Motorsports. He’s been a seasoned veteran of almost every WPC Swap Meet. The items he brings do not bolt on to any vehicle but are just as cool. Johnson specializes in vintage car ads, magazines, press kits and other printed Mopar themed automotive literature he’s collected for most of his adult life. These things come in handy when researching a car’s background and history, but for Johnson, he’s a been part of this hobby for decades. “This is my 30th year at the WPC Swap Meet. We started at the old MoTech Training Facility and Education Center in Livonia (Michigan) and from there, the event has moved to various locations, including many gymnasiums and even a church,” laughed Johnson. “The current spot (Macomb Sports and Expo Center) is a great location with plenty of indoor space and ample parking outside to load and unload. This event is also great for selling, buying and even meeting up with old friends.”

So, if you’re looking to clear out your garage and sell those parts you’ve accumulated for those Mopar projects that you’ll never complete, gather up those items and bring them to next year’s WPC Winter Swap Meet. The date is set for Sunday, February 4, 2024, and once again, it’ll at the Macomb Sports and Expo Center. With a year to go through your collection of Mopar “stuff,” you’ll have no excuses. In the meantime, here are some pics from this past event that’ll either motivate you to get your car done, or cash out and retire!

1 Comment


This was the WPC-GLR’s 40th Winter Swap Meet. We started at Bill Haas’ Mt Clemens Dodge in 1983. This year was a good year because it did not snow. When you go to other swap meets you can hardly ever find a Mopar part or memorabilia.