For us there are always a few events that really mark the beginning of show and swap meet season here in Eastwood-country. One of them is the Spring Carlisle swap meet where you could find most anything you need for your classic car project, but where do you go to find classic motorcycle parts you ask? Well the motorcycle counterpart (ironically the same weekend as Carlisle) is the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA) national show and swap meet in the sleepy town of Oley, PA.
Over the years the Oley vintage bike swap meet has grown and these days it’s turned into a multi-day event with vendors coming from all over the country and most vendors camping on the grounds. This event is a must-see if you crave rare, oddball, or just plain OLD stuff. The “show” is pretty low key with bikes lined up by age and a few feature bikes in the “winners circle”. There’s always something cool to see in the show area with some pretty rare and REALLY pristine bikes coming out of the woodwork. I just enjoyed the fact that you didn’t see the owners obsessing over polishing and repolishing and dusting, and cleaning the bikes like you’ll see at similar car shows. The owners were chatting amongst themselves and out and about scouring the swap meet for parts.
Speaking of parts, there’s a lot of used parts vendors at the swap meet with many of them setting up “camp” for the weekend at their spot. Stopping in to look at items laid on tarps and on tables felt more like you were visiting an old friend in his home rather than a pushy vendor using his best used car salesmen techniques. A few guys even offered me a cup of coffee, breakfast, etc after chatting a few minutes and I didn’t even buy anything yet! You won’t see that at Carlisle that’s for sure! The vintage motorcycle community is still a very close knit, friendly bunch that are genuinely interested in talking about anything old on two wheels regardless if you have a immaculate Indian or a beat up Vespa.
Walking the swap meet I was pretty surprised to see some REALLY rare motorcycles for sale and being displayed at some of the booths. I mean really some of these bikes deserved to be in a museum and not parked in a muddy field, but that just goes to show how down to earth this community is! I have always gravitated towards rare and oddball motorcycles and especially stuff with local historical value, with Reading Standards being some of my favorites. I nosed out a couple in the swap meet, but as expected they were far out of my price range and I just spent some time looking them over and trying to learn more about them. One of these days I’ll free up the cash and time to get myself one to play with!
As expected there were a handful of beautifully restored antique Harley Davidsons and Indians, with a few Triumphs mixed in for good measure. We did spot a museum quality Pope being displayed in the swap meet area that was detailed to the nines!
Probably one of the most rare finds of the day was an early Flying Merkel that had a Pottstown, PA built engine (only made for a few years). For those not familiar, Pottstown is where our national Eastwood Company headquarters are located! Our Marketing Analyst John S. spotted this one and snapped a couple pictures. I never heard that the engines were built here until John schooled me on the subject a little. I definitely need to read up on it some more!
This event is definitely worth a visit and while you may not see the shiniest bikes here, you will see some of the coolest and most rare in the country. So gear up, take a ride over, and get in on one of the best-kept vintage motorcycle events in the Mid-Atlantic!