Officially called Big 3 Auto Parts Exchange and Car Corral but more commonly called “Big 3”, this annual event is a fixture for those who appreciate old cars, rare parts and automobilia. This event has a rich history in San Diego. The Big 3 dates all the way back to 1966 when it was started by a few local car clubs. It has been held at several different venues throughout the years, outgrowing each one before finally settling in to the parking lot of Jack Murphy Stadium (now known as Qualcomm stadium or by locals as “The Q”).
This three-day event is free to the public, but there is a $10 stadium parking fee. Shopping hours are 12 noon to 4PM Friday, 8AM to 4PM Saturday and 8AM to 12PM Sunday. Vendor gate opens each day at 5AM. Once the public hours begin, no vendors are allowed in or out. Although this event has passed, should you decide that next year you want to attend, keep the Big 3 site handy for news and announcements.
This is a massive event, taking over half of the stadium parking lot for vendor spaces and the other half for parking. It truly is too much to see in just one day. You will find an eclectic mix of items at the Big 3. Everything from detailing cloths to rusty hulks from 80 or 90 years ago are for sale. You’ll find that air cleaner you’ve been looking for or a set of well used slicks.
Our advice to you is wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen, and don’t forget your trusty parts wagon. You’ll be walking for miles but you won’t be bored if you’re a gearhead. There was even a totaled ’29 Ford roadster for sale, complete with 6-71 blown hemi. The owner said it had been “bitten” by a Cobra. One gentleman was spotted with a complete un-restored dashboard on his parts wagon.
The future of the current venue is in jeopardy. The latest proposals from the San Diego Chargers organization call for building a new football stadium at a downtown location near Petco Park and the convention center. Language in that proposal says that the city of San Diego reserves the right to sell the current property to developers. This would leave the current stadium without it’s marquee tenant. Several parking lot events are held at “The Q” every year, with the Big 3 as the largest of those events.
The Car Corral is an informal car show where folks can show off their rides. This year didn’t disappoint. Several top-notch vehicles were on display down from a pristine example of a ’57 Pontiac Safari 2-Door wagon (Pontiac’s version of the Nomad) to a lonely AMC Pacer. The main content of this year’s show was classics. But there was plenty of American muscle to be found in the Car Corral, sitting for sale throughout the vendor spaces and in the attendee parking lot.
If you’re thinking of selling at The Big 3 next year, you need to register early, spaces sell out quickly. Registration is already open for 2017. You can find registration information at http://www.big3partsexchange.com.