Bombs away: Unique vehicles highlight Swap Meet

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, February 22, 2014
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All manner of tricked-out golf carts, Gators and mini-motorcycles buzz around the dusty grounds of the Decatur Swap Meet.

It’s also about the only place in the world where you can see grown men pulling little red wagons behind them. Each one stacked high with choice auto parts.

Bomb Voyage

BOMB VOYAGE – Alvin Newburg, 69, of Amarillo, rides a U.S. bomb that has been converted into preferred mode of transportation at the 37th annual Decatur Swap Meet this weekend. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I’m out here every year whether I have anything to sell or not,” said Monty Griffeth of Decatur. “There’s always something I need to sell or need to buy.”

At an event that’s all about transportation, even the way people traverse the grounds has been turned into an art form. But nobody’s mini-vehicle tops what Alvin Newburg, 69, of Amarillo hauled to the fairgrounds this year. His is literally the bomb.

“I had a buddy of mine (Phil Harris) who had a heart attack,” Newburg said. “He needed something to ride around at all the swap meets we go to, but he wanted something different.”

Harris found an old military bombshell. It wasn’t a bomb used with explosives, rather it was the type of bomb the U.S. government would use to distribute propaganda in war zones.

“They’d fill this up with propaganda literature and drop it in a place like Vietnam,” Newburg said.

They took the bomb shell, which weighs about 150 pounds, and cut out the bottom. They then fitted the bomb to fit over a small four-wheeler and bolted it on.

“We scaled it, cut the bottom out and set the bomb on top,” Newburg said.

The result is a small saddle fitted on top of a 4- to 5-foot olive green bomb. The nose is painted bright orange. The tail is caution yellow. A pair of handlebars protrude from the front.

Newburg said the inspiration for the vehicle came from Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film “Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” At the end of the film actor Slim Pickens rides a bomb, fitted with a nuclear warhead, like a flying horse as it plummets to the earth.

Newburg said the bomb chariot sells for about $2,000.

The 37th annual Decatur Swap Meet continues 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Sunday at the Wise County Fairgrounds, 3100 Farm Road 51 South, in Decatur. It’s free and open to the public. The three-day event typically features more than 3,000 vendors.

Skulls Head

SKULL’S HEAD – All manner of wicked contraptions await visitors at the Decatur Swap Meet. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Just Looking

JUST LOOKING – A couple of guys check out an old vehicle. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Still Looking

STILL LOOKING – Bill Phelps of Dallas wasn’t shy about announcing his search for old T-bird parts. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Hanging Out

HANGING OUT – Kent Allen, of Littlefield, and Bill Thomas, of Tyler, take a breather on the opening morning of the Decatur Swap Meet. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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