Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop

Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop

The Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop is a 14-screen drive-in theater in Lauderhill, Florida, USA, that doubles as the largest drive-in and largest daily flea market in the world (local broadcast advertising states it to be "Florida's second-biggest tourist attraction").[1] The largest tourist attraction is supposedly Walt Disney World. From 1989-2006 the Hanneford Family Circus had been performing daily (except Tuesdays) in the Swap Shop food court, entertaining the roughly 12 million people who visit each year.[2]

On November 22, 1963, Betty and Preston Henn opened the Thunderbird Drive-in Theater. In the beginning, there was one screen (still in use today as Screen 9)[3] -- and a reputation for showing adult movies, which concerned passing motorists. Initially the parking lot was divided by a fence—to divide the white customers from the African American customers.[4]

After a 1966 trip to the American West Coast, Henn decided to add a flea market, allowing the region to have a collective rummage sale and encouraging the start of many small businesses in southeastern Florida. The addition ushered in a period of expansion (to 11 screens by 1980) and increased popularity.

An enclosed food court was added in 1979; a decade later, a stage was added and the food court was enclosed and air conditioned. Initially, the circus shared the stage with 1960s and 1970s pop and country acts, most notably K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, and Three Dog Night. During the 90s Jackass star Steve-O performed as a clown and had just gotten out of work before premiering in the first episode.[5]

Expansion continued into the 1990s, when Screens 12 and 13 were put into use, and into 2005, when the former Thunderbird Drive-in started projecting onto its fourteenth screen (on October 24, 2005, hurricane Wilma damaged several of the screens; currently only 13 of the 14 are in use).

In addition to the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, the Henns own and operate two others, the Margate Swap Shop (which closed in 2007), the Lake Worth Swap Shop and Drive-in, and Tampa Fun-Lan Swap Shop and Drive-in.

The Thunderbird was featured in an episode of Speed TV's Dream Car Garage without mention of its name or location, only citing a swap shop in Florida. The Thunderbird Swap Shop advertises its car museum, featuring a Maserati MC12, Ferrari Enzo, Ferrari F50, Bugatti Veyron 16.4, Several Porsche 911 models, Corvette ZR1, Mercedes/McLaren SLR Roadster, one of Michael Schumacher's 1999 Ferrari F399s, 1968 Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTB4, Ferrari DD512, Porsche Carrera GT1, Ferrari F430 Scuderia, Ferrari F430, Ferrari FXX, Ford GT, 2009 Nissan Skyline GTR, the actual Ferrari Testerosa from the Miami Vice TV show, Hudson Hornet, Ecurie Francorchamps Ferrari Daytona 275GTB/C Speciale #6885 that won 3rd place overall (1st in GT class) in the 1965 24 Hour Lemans (still holds the record today for GT class car) driven by Willy Mairesse & Jean Blaton valued over $20,000,000 as the most expensive Ferrari in the world bought off the race track the day of the race for $18,000. [The website claims that in 1988, Preston Henn bought the Francochamps Ferrari 275GTB for $10,000,000.00; The exact year of puchase, and purchase price appears to need further clarification and substantiation.] Many of the cars are used by the Swap Shop Racing Team in actual races, and several are driven daily on the local streets. During each visit you will notice a different one missing each time.

The flea market that operates during the daytime is known for its low prices, easily haggled even lower.


  1. ^ Swap Shop Official Site
  2. ^ Swap Shop history - from
  3. ^ Review in
  4. ^ Swap shop history - from
  5. ^ Swap Shop history - from official site

External links

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