Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Picadillo. Pickin' car stuff at the Brass Armadillo

Even though we cover quite a few automotive events here, there are days that a car show, cruise, race, or swap meet just might not be scheduled. Great--then what are we supposed to do? Well, take a deep breath, we'll get through this together.

One way to spend a rainy day is to hit the local antique mall. Automotive memorabilia is pretty common within the rows of vendor spaces at most of these stores, and if you keep a sharp eye out, sometimes you can find some real treasures.

To illustrate that point, we went to one of the biggest antique malls in the Kansas City area, the Brass Armadillo in Grain Valley, Mo. The Iowa-based Brass Armadillo is actually an antique mall chain, with five locations throughout the country. The Kansas City store is a monster, with more than 42,000 square-feet and 500 dealers.

The store is big enough that there are bound to be lots of rare and interesting car-related items for sale, but because it is so big, you really have to keep your eyes peeled.

Browsing the mall is a great way to spend an afternoon with the family. It doesn't matter how old you are; there will be something that piques your interest. For adults, there are always things that remind them of their childhood. "I used to play with this," and "my mom used one of these," is pretty common banter throughout the store. For the kids, a diverse selection of modern and vintage toys, books, and games usually means that they will leave the store with a little piece of their own future memories.

As far as car-related stuff, because that's probably why you're reading this blog, there was a little bit of everything.

Model cars, diecasts, and toys were the most prevalent bits of automobilia there. Some were very common, some quite unusual. These pieces ranged from the garden-variety Hot Wheels selection, through the large steel toys like Tonka and Nylint, and right through more delicate examples like model kits and dealer promotional models.

There were plenty of things you might expect to see in a garage. Old tools, vintage oil cans, petroleum collectables, and the like, were scattered between the old books, furniture, and appliances.

And for the automotive marketing fans, vintage advertisements, framed car art, brochures, and automotive signage were fairly easy to spot.

Race fans had plenty to capture their interest as well. NASCAR was especially well-represented, with everything from rare diecast cars, to autographed collectibles, to signs, posters, and tickets were all awaiting new owners.

If you'd like to check out the Brass Armadillo yourself, take I-70 east of Kansas City to the Adams Dairy Parkway exit #21 near Blue Springs, hang a right, then take a left onto NE Coronado Drive. You enter the parking lot from the back of the building, because the face can be seen when you pass by on I-70. Or for more information, check out their website here.

Antique malls can be a great source for automotive collectibles and treasures. The selection changes all the time, and occasionally you can pick up a real bargain. But the experience isn't just fun because they have all this stuff. The real enjoyment comes from the actual search through the store. Give it a try on the next car show-free rainy day--it'll be time well spent.

The slideshow below contains about 140 pictures of car models, tools, brochures, and other car-related treasures that I discovered during a visit to the Brass Armadillo.

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