Gallery: Indy Cylinder Head’s 2024 Chrysler Performance Trade Show & Swap Meet (Video)

Mopar madness officially made its way to the Midwest on March 1st and 2nd for Indy Cylinder Head’s 29th annual Chrysler Performance Trade Show and Swap Meet. Vendors and visitors flocked to the Indiana State Fairgrounds’ Blue Pavilion for the Friday/Saturday showing that featured a fine crowd, filled swap meet spaces, and even a few good deals.

Weather, beautiful as it was, did not factor in as the indoor arena provided the perfect setting for buying and selling. We’ve all been to our fair share of mud-slinging swap meet swamps, but this was far from it. The clean, conditioned space couldn’t have been more comfortable with ample aisles and convenient concessions that always make this event a posh promenade.

Working our way through a Ram-packed parking lot, we hit the doors right when they opened on Saturday morning. Already, there was a steady throng of enthusiasts perusing the passageways, so we dove right in.

Above: Indy’s booth featured their new cast iron small block LA heads along with the full gambit of aluminum goods.

While it isn’t a car show by any means, the Indy Cylinder Head-led event does always feature a few nice rides at the front door. This year was no different with a T-topped 1978 Dodge Magnum, Deda Minor’s 1971 Dodge Dart from Fastest Cars in the Dirty South, and a survivor 1970 Plymouth Duster. The Duster was extra impressive with only 25,000 miles on its 340/3-speed drivetrain and F4 Lime Green Metallic paint.

Slipping into the swap meet, we went straight to the very back and worked our way forward in hopes of finding undiscovered treasures where parts pirates had not yet been. The shopping list was short and our needs were fulfilled quickly when we nabbed an LD340 intake early on for a fair $250.

Manifolds are always a great swap meet score because they can be inspected closely before purchase and you can save on shipping such a big and awkward piece. This one had eight clean threaded holes and was super clean so we scooped it right up for a friend’s Shaker-hooded 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda.

Above: The few show cars ranged from mild to wild with a survivor 1970 Plymouth Duster on one end of the spectrum and a cool blue Demon on the other. Dig the groovy factory seat covers on it.

Shipping is almost always the biggest saver when attending a swap meet. Being able to throw something in your vehicle and haul it home yourself sure beats the slow and costly shipment process that can result in delays or, even worse, damage.

Most of the big hitters could be had here in Indy. For example, the Stephens Performance booth was chock full of black EDT-coated Auto Metal Direct (AMD) steel. Quarter panels, fenders, hoods, floor pans, trunk pans, and wheel housings littered the floor with some even offering show special pricing. Many times, one can call ahead and have a vendor like Stephens bring something specific if needed.

Above: Mancini Racing was in the house as well with specials on oil pans, pickups, and more. Mopar Performance cast valve cover sets and air cleaners were on-hand along with parts from their preferred suppliers like Borgeson and QA1.

On the back side of A&A Transmissions’ layout, we stumbled upon Mr. 4 Speed himself, Herb McCandless, pointing out the unique features of a Hemi-equipped 1968 Plymouth Barracuda. Listening intently, we got to hear the living legend himself explain the very unscientific practice of hammering the passenger-side inner fender for clearance around the big 426 head’s valve cover. What a joy it would have been back in the day to whack away at a new car with a sledge hammer to shoehorn that hefty Hemi in.

Indy’s own booth was obviously expansive with a large lay of engines, intake manifolds, cylinder heads, and accessories. Here again, if we were in the market for some of these larger items, it would have been a prime opportunity to pick them up and take them home.

But we were mainly interested in checking out their freshly-released cast iron small block LA heads. With a 2.02” by 1.60” valve set, they’re being marketed as a factory X head alternative. These new-not-rebuilt castings would be perfect for a hot street 318, 340, or 360 at a slightly more affordable price point compared to aluminum versions. Pre-assembled valve springs, 74cc combustion chambers, hardened exhaust valve seats, and a $1,495 per set price point all sounded pretty decent.

Price points for used stuff in the swap meet area, per usual, varied widely. We considered our $250 intake manifold a fair deal for a no-longer-produced part, but intakes is one grouping that can garner almost any price tag for the vast configurations of carburetion Ma Mopar used through the years. Bare big block Six Pack manifolds were seen from $650 to $1,000, although their small block brethren were generally a touch higher.

Above: Mr. McCandless himself was among the crowd. This may have been the part where he was explaining that a sledge hammer really was the best tool to beat that big Hemi in the A-body’s engine bay.

Among the rarest pieces we spotted was an Edelbrock STR-15 with a spendy $3,500 sticker. These cross ram dual four barrel hunks of aluminum were originally made in the ‘70s for low-deck big blocks like the 361, 383, and 400. A similar version, the STR-12, was produced for small blocks, but neither one sold in big numbers. For those who like the look, there’s a price to pay.

There was an assortment of air cleaners to fit atop many of those intakes. Dual snorkels were listed at $250 to $500 and oval fresh air assemblies were $450 to $700. We even saw a new old stock (NOS) Fram CA332V oval filter for an unlikely $250. That price may have been achievable just a few short years ago, but YearOne and others have since started dealing a reproduction (P/N CH81) that’s purportedly just as correct.

Engines and transmissions scattered the floor, some bare and some built. An aluminum block Slant Six, a Whipple supercharger-equipped Gen. III Hemi, and multiple stroker short blocks were the highlights. Four-speed transmissions, plentiful in all varieties, ranged from $250 for a late-model A833 to $1,400 for a fresh rebuild. Bellhousings, shifters, and pedals of all kinds could be found to follow suit.

Enthusiasts on the lookout for interior items could find Tuff and woodgrain steering wheels, standard and Rallye gauge clusters, bezels, seat cores, and consoles. One could have easily filled the bare cabin of a 1968 to 1970 B-body with a dash frame, gauges, wiring, shifter, console, and buckets.

Complete and project cars were present as well, although the car corral is generally small. We noted an engineless 1971 Dodge Demon for $14,000, a big block mid-‘70s Dart Sport for $24,000, a fine 1974 Dodge Charger for $18,500, and, on the high end of the spectrum, a Hemi-equipped 1967 Plymouth GTX.

Memorabilia and vintage Direct Connection (DC) or Mopar Performance (MP) stuff is always a surprise to see coming out of the woodwork and on to the fold-up tables. Some forty-plus years after the TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard still has quite a following. A TV tray for $125, a pedal car for $350, and a wristwatch for $55 could have jump-started a Duke-lover’s collection.

Above: This barn find van had a hefty dose of ’70s dirt and grime. It’s hard to say what lurked inside the functional sliding door.

Vintage DC and MP-related stuff included an electronic ignition tester for $250, multiple NOS purple camshaft packages, and a Rod Shop creeper at a salty $450. Does anybody even use creepers anymore?

In the end, our first-place vote for the weirdest item spied at the show was a complete 1970 E-body split bench seat. So few Challengers and Barracudas were equipped with a column-shifted automatic that an E-body bench seat is really pretty rare. There are very few cars in the world that actually need this seat to be correct. We don’t have one of them, so we didn’t bother to ask what the probably-plenty-high price was.

Above: We went home happy with a clean LD340 intake manifold in the back seat.

A close second was an even more obscure set of NOS Dodge Omni door skins. What luck it would have been to be neck-deep in a 1985 Omni restoration and stumble upon some mint replacement metal. Alas, we didn’t check that bizarre box either and had to pass them by.

Walking out with our hunk of aluminum in hand, we were reminded of one thing as we saw swappers closing up shop: don’t throw anything away. Just bring it to next year’s Chrysler Performance Trade Show and Swap Meet and list it for $10. And if it doesn’t sell, then bring it back the year after and list it for $20!

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Kent Will

Kent grew up in the shop with his old man and his '70 Charger R/T. His first car was a 1969 Super Bee project when Kent was fourteen. That restoration experience lead to pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a career in manufacturing. Since then, the garage has expanded to include a '67 Satellite, a '72 Scamp, and a 2010 Mopar '10 Challenger.

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