The Pate Swap Meet started out as the South Central Swap Meet in 1972 when several car clubs in Texas decided that it was too much to keep going all the way up to Pennsylvania to Hershey when we could have a swap meet here in Texas. Among the starting members were Dr. Aggie Pate, Russ Gruenwald, Barney Calvert and others from the Gulf Coast Region AACA, car club in Houston.
The “Pate” name is a tribute to Dr. Aggie Pate, founder of the Pate Museum of Transportation near Cresson, original home of this annual rite of spring. Pate, president of the Texas Refinery Company that owned an employee recreation ranch southwest of Fort Worth, housed his private automobile collection in the museum. The inaugural swap meet was held in a rough semi-circle under trees across from the museum with about 350 vendors.
The Pate Swap Meet Association now consists of the 12 largest vintage car clubs in Texas, with the event serving the car restoration hobby and the collection of antique, vintage, and notable automobiles and hot rods. Pate Swap Meet is the largest event of its type in the Southwest and second largest in the United States. Operations of the Pate Swap Meet have been located at Texas Motor Speedway since 1998.
Vendor-wise, the event is organized by street and block and space, allowing visitors to readily locate folks eager to deal inventories of the following: New Old Stock (NOS) car parts, Genuine Old Rusty car parts, complete (and typically grease-covered) V8 engines, front clips, hoods, grilles, tires, wheels, tools, steering wheels, antique and reproduction signs and gas pumps, license plates, emblems, manuals, diecast collectibles, assorted clothing and homemade Americana yard art. Motorcycles of various makes, and their parts, occupy their own space in the Pate landscape.
Just think that from a humble 350 vendors and 500 spaces to now over 4,000 vendors and a13,000 spaces in just 51 years is quite an accomplishment. We have increased out vendor spaces every year we have had the swap meet. We started out with just 4 car clubs putting on the meet to now 12 clubs of volunteers to keep this running. We have only missed one year since starting and that was 2020 and we all know what caused that.