Known as "The West Coast's Largest Antique Auto, Corvette, Porsche, Street Rod and Volkswagen Swap Meet & Car Show", the Pomona Swap Meet is a one stop shop, where if you're lucky enough, you can find that certain part or dream car that you've been searching for. "Back in the days, the Pomona Swap Meet was held on White Street and all it was then was classic cars and Corvettes, and that's where I'd get parts for my Porsche," Mike fondly remembers. "That's where I learned how the parts were available and found out ways to turn around and sell them to make money. So I did just that, sold my then-current car and bought my first bomb, a 1948 Chevrolet Coupe," he says. "My dad thought I was nuts; I had paid $1,800.00 for the car which was all the money I had back then. I started looking for parts at the swap meets which at the time was really hard. I used to go with a guy named Jay Bell I used to help him load and unload his vehicles and sell them," Mike states. "He kind of got me into selling parts but (he) got tired of doing it so he decided to sell off his inventory to me, I bought it and that's where it (the business) really started. I began going out of state because the product wasn't here, this is prior to the Internet, prior to eBay; you had to make long distance phone calls, you had to deal with snail mail and hope they wrote or called you back, sometimes you'd wait three weeks, and just hoped that the part was correct," adds Mike. "The only source most dealers used was the Hemmings Motor News and not too many young Chicanos even heard of it or knew what it was about. I opened up a store in the 80s, bought it from another man; it was then called Don's Obsolete. He thought he wanted to retire, but he wasn't too sure about it, so we worked out a deal where I gave him the business back and he gave me inventory so I opened up a store in Buena Park, California. That was late 80s, early 90s, it was called the Old Car Parts Store," Mike reminisces.
Once the store opened, things started to get bigger for Mike Ramos, his reputation in the community was growing. "I was the guy, so when people wanted a part they called The Old Car Parts Store. It wasn't just Chevy stuff, I knew cars, I've been studying cars ever since I was a kid in the back seat of my pop's car," Mike says looking back. While riding around in the back seat with his father, Mike had made it a little game for himself: "That's a '55 Buick and that's a '61 Bel Air and that's a 1967 Cadillac; I was always identifying cars, learning about them. It was in my blood, that's why I named it The Old Car Parts Store," he says proudly. "When somebody called, I went to the junkyards with a Polaroid camera and my own knowledge, and was able to build a little index of the stuff. That way, when a guy came in and asked what I had for a '66 Lincoln I knew what he needed," boasts Mike. "A lot of the time it was phone calls coming in, and since I had access to the wrecking yards that were out in the Dakotas and the mid-west I was able to say `yeah I can get you that.'" Mike had it down to a science, so once he had his "order," he'd call up whatever wrecking yard he found that had the part he needed and had it shipped to him, in order to sell it to that particular customer as fast as possible.
Business was booming, it got to the point where customers were amazed that Mike could find the items, let alone so quickly, and the UPS drivers were equally as amazed and even more curious to find out what products were behind the huge cash on delivery amounts the Old Car Parts Store was paying. Receiving $200, $500, and even greater amounts, the drivers literally stood to see what was in those boxes of merchandise. Taking time off their delivery routes, they had to see for themselves just what Mike was working with and exactly what he was buying!