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Every weekend in Britain, 1000s of enthusiasts go hunting through the autojumbles for those hard to find spares they need. But getting the most out of these spares bonanzas takes a little forethought - as the editor of Classic Motor Monthly, John Hodson, pointed out in the show guide to the 1994 Classic & Sportscar Show at the NEC, an event in which CMM were the official supporters of the autojumble. Of course, these days the event is now called the Classic Motor Show, we still support the autojumble and it is still the best indoor event in Britain...

GETTING THE right spares for your vehicle can be a chore - or it can become your recreation! Every week in Britain, someone, somewhere will be holding an autojumble. And somewhere, someone has THAT part you've been looking for...

You may never have been to an autojumble, but you've most probably been to a show where an autojumble has formed part of the event. Making the most of your visits to Autojumbles is largely a matter of common sense - here's a few handy tips to help you find those spares, and have a good time while doing so.

BE PREPARED - If you are outdoor autojumbling, we all know what the Great British Weather can do, so be prepared for anything, and everything, it can throw at you. If you have your own transport, take a change of clothing, some waterproof clothing and wellington boots - we all have our recollections of wet 'jumbles and the Somme-like conditions underfoot that can result! On the other hand crowds have sweltered under an unmerciful sun. You pays your money...

If you aren't making the journey by car then the best advice is to dress sensibly for the time of year, take a lightweight shower-proof coat and a good pair of stout walking shoes that will withstand the rigours of the event. Don't forget that at the NEC you'll probably literally walk miles round this busy event. But don't overburden yourself with clothing clutter - you are going to buy autojumble, carrying unnecessary items will only distract you.

Other items to pack in the car - First Aid Kit (for autojumble blisters! You aren't going to walk round ONCE are you?), large coolbag with lots to eat and drink, good large scale road maps and the local Tourist information - you may decide to stay the night. And whatever you do don't forget a comprehensive parts list complete with parts numbers - there are 1000s of bargains at most 'jumbles, but you'll have to hunt for 'em.

GET THERE EARLY - Whatever you do, do get there early, to grab those early-bird bargains, and STAY LATE - as the day wears on autojumble stall-holders get more and more willing to haggle.

AVOID IF YOU can taking small children and pets. Autojumbles rarely have attractions for very young children who will tire easily and as for pets, well, it's not a good idea really for much the same reasons. If you must take your pet, DO NOT leave it in a vehicle to swelter...

PLAN AHEAD - Some autojumbles are small 20 stall affairs which you can whip through in a morning, others - like Beaulieu Autojumble's 2,000 stalls - will need a proper plan of action if you are to see everything you want to see so it's essential that your visit is structured. It's little use rushing around up one aisle and down another - you will soon become disorientated and find yourself going around in circles.

At a really big autojumble there is no way you'll have the time to loot every stall, but with proper planning you'll have a better chance to find what you are after. Carry a small notepad and pen with you to note down likely items - part numbers, prices - and the stall number. We remember the gent who saw a perfect Alvis wing, dashed away to find his wife (and the lolly) and then discovered he couldn't find the stall again!

When you buy try and ensure you get the name, address and telephone number of the stallholder, particularly if the item you have been sold has been passed off as in good working order and subsequently turns out not to be so.

It's a good idea to plan exactly what you want to buy for your restoration. If you are working to a budget what's the point in spending up on rash purchases in the first 10 minutes and then finding exactly what you want an hour later.

Spend a little time acclimatising, particularly somewhere like the NEC, have a look at the general lay of the land. Of course you may find just what you need in the first 30 seconds - to buy or not to buy, that's the dilemma at every autojumble! Sit down and make a list of what you need in order preference, make a note of the parts numbers, cross-referenced if applicable, try not to let 'jumble fever get you!

Attack Autojumbles sensibly and you'll be rewarded with all the parts you need for your restoration at decent prices - don't forget, now is the time to buy. Prices have rarely been cheaper in real terms. Patience is the key - last year we met a gent who had searched 10 years for a particular pair of lamps - and in 1991 he found them.

It's worth looking just a little dippy and attaching a note to your garment stating exactly what you want - "Pre-war MG spares needed" etc etc. This actually works, so much so that we saw one enthusiast with a hand-knitted jumper which stitched into the front bore the legend "Rolls-Royce Parts Purchased". Well he would wouldn't he?

IF YOU are planning on buying any large items - wings, doors, engines etc - take a large folding bag (those tough carriers from Ikea stores - just £2.50 each - are ideal).

BE prepared to barter - bartering is an autojumble artform that seems to be dying, go on, revive it!

WHY NOT take a stall yourself at your local autojumble? It may work out as cheap as paying an entrance fee in some cases, and you'll make a few bob into the bargain. At the really good 'jumbles, like the NEC, you are almost certain to make some hard cash. Autojumblers are always glad to see new faces - and isn't it time you cleared out the garage?

FIND OUT where the best autojumbles are, and they are not always the biggest. You'll find Britain's most comprehensive listing of autojumbles and events in 'Classic Motor Monthly', a monthly tabloid publication available on subscription at just £17 (U.K.) for 12 issues posted to your door (well, I had to get the plug in somewhere didn't I?). Within it's pages you'll finds hundreds of events and 1,000s of spares in it's 'Autojumbler' classic-fieds - more info on (01204) 657212.

FINALLY, whether you are going to buy or sell, have a good time. The International Classic Motor Shows and the Great British Autojumbles at the NEC are supported and sponsored by CMM and we are proud to be associated with these fine events. There's bound to be something in it for everyone - but don't worry too much if you can't find what you need. EVERY week there is an autojumble somewhere in the UK. If you don't get what you want today, don't worry someday, somewhere you will.



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