Story and photos by Phil Skinner
As the last lot crossed the block closing the 2017 edition of Barrett-Jackson, Craig Jackson, who over the last 20 years has transformed one of the most prestigious collector car auctions into one of the world most exciting automotive lifestyle events, thanked the crowd proclaiming this year’s event as the “smoothest ever”! From January 14th to the 22nd, it was continuous auction action at the Westworld Auction facility in Scottsdale, Arizona.
For an event of this magnitude to run “smoothly”, it took thousands of hours of planning, hundreds of people and the cooperation of both city and state authorities working together. First, over 1,730 vehicles were offered on the auction block, with all but a handful declared sold. Next, over 2,000 individual pieces of automotive memorabilia filled a couple of days of auction action and kicked off each days’ program. On site, there were over 500 vendors that brought in everything from high-end cigars to vintage wooden boats and even airplanes, plus the exhibition of the latest new cars from several manufacturers. Adding to the complexity was the coordination with dozens of food vendors to keep the hungry masses fed, followed by managing the 1000’s of acres of parking for those arriving to view this spectacle.
So important to the Scottsdale economy is this auction that this year Mayor W. J. Land declared January 14-22 as Barrett-Jackson Collector-Car Auction Week. Attracting visitors from around the world, this town continues to put its best foot forward with hotels and restaurants filled to capacity. One major ingredient to making this sale a success is the ease in which traffic seems to flow. Despite thousands of vehicles coming into and leaving the grounds, traffic tie-ups were kept to an absolute minimum throughout the day.
Among the hundreds of vendors was our intrepid crew from Goodguys, our booth a showcase for the 1963 ½ Ford Galaxie Giveaway car built by Legens Hot Rods in Martin, Tennessee. This Sandshell Beige beauty attracted a lot of attention to the booth showing the highfalutin crowd just how bitchin’ vintage muscle can get if properly appointed. So effective was the draw of the car, it was reported that hundreds of new members joined Goodguys upon finding out that if they became Goodguys members not only would they be “in the cool guy club”, get the Goodguys Gazette and member benefits, but they also would have a shot at winning the Galaxie!
A side hobby at Barrett-Jackson is celebrity spotting and there were not disappointments in this department for the 2017 edition. On Friday, Aerosmith’s front man, Steven Tyler brought his 2012 Hennessey Venom GT Spyder up on the block where it was bid to a selling price of $800,000, with all of the proceeds going to Janie’s Fund, a group that helps young girls who have been victims of trauma and abuse.
Saturday afternoon the auction was brought to a stop as Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter Justin Bieber brought his 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia F1 coupe up for auction, wrapped in satin finished Frozen Blue color. It was built by West Coast Customs. During the bidding process, the pop sensation sweetened the deal a bit, throwing in two front row passes for a stop at his upcoming tour, plus two-backstage post-show passes. Despite a notice of a minor rear-end collision, bidding was strong before the car was called sold at $395,000.
Boxing champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. brought his white Bugatti Veyron to the block and was a bit disappointed when it could only muster a bid of $1,900,000 to be declared one the very few “no-sales” in Scottsdale. Other celebs coming to the block included Burt Reynolds with several black Pontiac Trans-Ams, and NASCAR racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr, who brought a part of his race cars to the block, raising $400,000 for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital fund. Walking through Barrett-Jackson, you never know who you might see as a number of rock stars, actors, and athletes love to come and check out what is new and exciting in the world of wheels at Barrett-Jackson.
One thing that Barrett-Jackson offers during its entire auction is an air of excitement and they continue to set trends in the market. Astounding sales, such as Dave Kindig’s 1965 Volkswagen 21-window mini-bus rolled onto the block and drove the bidders into a frenzy with the hammer finally coming down at $302,000! Everyone seemed to be on their feet when a beautiful Aston Martin DB5 coupe drove to the block. This black beauty did top the charts this year at Barrett-Jackson when it sold for a bid of $1,350,000. Vehicles of historic importance are also to be found at the Westworld venue, such as the 1960 Chevrolet CERV experimental race car that also did quite well when it was sold for a bid of $1,200,000.
The big day, the one everyone has to attend, is Saturday, the 8th day of the sale, and it was estimated that over 50,000 people jammed the grounds this day alone, many hoping to see their favorite car or just maybe get a glimpse of or even rub shoulders with a real celebrity. This year Saturday’s sales on the block amounted to over $35 million, one of the best single days in Barrett-Jackson entire 46-year history.
Another area that Barrett-Jackson continues to lead is generating money for non-profit organizations. Prior to this year’s event, it helped raise over $91 million for charitable organizations. Veterans groups, children’s groups, and many other organizations have benefited from the generosity of the bidders at Barrett-Jackson and this year was no exception as a total of nine special vehicles were offered — including the very first 2017 Chevrolet COPO Camaro and the very last 2017 Ford Raptor pickup. With Barrett-Jackson donating all proceeds to special charities, over $2.3 million was raised.
Our friends at RideTech played a large role at this year’s auction, showing their willingness to do whatever it takes to help advance our hot rod aftermarket industry. Over the 8-day auction, they completely rebuilt a 1968 GMC C/10 in the all new DIY pavilion. When finished, the transformed truck featured RideTech’s new StreetGrip suspension, a Currie crate rear end, No Limit Engineering fuel tank, Baer brakes, Forgeline wheels and BFGoodrich tires, American Autowire wiring, Fitech EFI, C & R Radiator, Vintage Air A/C, and a Kicker Audio stereo system. It was a herculean effort and when it crossed the block Sunday afternoon, the gavel fell at $75,000. Bravo guys!
As an official sponsor and partner of Barrett-Jackson, Goodguys and our members continue to play a major role in the presentation and success of this world famous and world class event. We will see you right back here in 2018!