37th Annual Barrett-Jackson Auction

Jan. 19, 2008 – Scottsdale, AZ ? I had the pleasure to attend the 37th annual Barrett-Jackson Auction at the fabulous Westworld Complex in Scottsdale, AZ. This was my first time at this televised event. I really didn?t know what to expect, but having been to plenty of auctions, I thought I had some idea. However, when I arrived I was quite enthralled with the spectacle of B-J. Watching it on TV is nothing like being there. It is certainly something to see in person. The atmosphere is awesome –with no reserve (cars are sold with no minimum bid requirements) on the cars. The nervousness of people putting their cars up for sale is something to experience first hand. I spoke to quite a few participants and could see they had suffered some sleepless nights.

I spoke with Chip Saggau, who was part of the Alice Cooper?s 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing recreation. Alice lives in the metro Phoenix area and has a restaurant ? ?Coopertown.? Cooper and Saggau have put a car in the auction for the last couple years. Chip said these projects take over a year to complete and cost more than $100,000. The Gullwing was not finished until the Friday before the auction because Cooper likes to drive the car while they restore it?

The auction was originally known for the antique automobiles such as the LaSalle, Cadillac and Duesenburg. However, it has become a muscle car haven. I could not believe how many muscle cars there –the most I?ve ever seen in one place.

Thursday, while walking through the crowd, I ran into Tony Stewart, having an ice cream. The two-time NASCAR champion was enjoying hanging out and was going to be on stage during the auction of his 2006 Joe Gibbs Racing, Home Depot Chevrolet. This car was one of his favorites, the last of the old-style cars made by Gibbs Racing. The car won three races in 2006 and all the money raised was going to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation. Tony told me he could not wait to see how much the car would bring and mentioned he was really ready to start the SPRINT Cup season. Stewart?s happy with Gibbs Racing?s switch to Toyota, and believes they?ll be quite competitive –right out of the box.

The pace and the crowd started to pick-up on Friday as plenty of celebrities milled about, such as boxing legend Muhammad Ali, two-time Indy 500 champion, Arie Luyendyk, Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, wrestler Bill Goldberg and Barrett-Jackson mainstay Carroll Shelby.

Friday night, Tony Stewart?s NASCAR went up on the block for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation. The car sold for $300,000 and Tony threw in a race worn helmet and uniform. Stewart was in a generous mood, even adding his ring to the sale. Reggie Jackson and Bill Goldberg also donated additional money to the Foundation. Ron Pratte, one of the more visible buyers in past B-J auctions added the Stewart car to his growing collection. The Darrell Gwynn Foundation provides for, aids in prevention of and seeks a cure for spinal cord injuries and other debilitating illnesses. The Foundation seeks to expedite specific cures and assists in the funding of targeted research. The Foundation is dedicated to injury prevention, with special emphasis on programs targeting children. Overall, the B-J auction brought in nearly $2-million dollars for the Foundation.

Saturday looked to be a big night for Carroll Shelby as he was going to auction off a couple of his cars. Fans of the ?Duke of Hazard? show had the ?General Lee? 1970 Dodge Charger that co-star John Schneider brought to auction. Additionally, Richard Childress was there to see the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RCE Series 3 dedicated to Dale Earnhardt. I had the opportunity to observe Richard Childress when he saw the Camaro RCE for the first time since its completion. You could just see how he felt about the car by his expression. I spoke to Richard and asked him what he thought of the outstanding car. Childress said the detail and love put into the car really stood out. He couldn?t wait to see how it was going to fare at the auction, he said this was number 3 of 50, and was the only car equipped with an SB2 engine block that Dale Sr. used at the 2000 Daytona 500.

On Friday, I spoke to the owner of Total Performance, Inc. (TPI), the Wichita-based company that is building these cars for RCR, Brook Phillips. Brook gave me a tour and showed me the car up close. The car is really something to see. The detail is unbelievable –no seams on the body and carbon fiber is blended into car. TPI looked at over 100 different shades of black paint to get the right one. I don?t believe television will do this one justice.

Saturday night was really the night for the new generation of muscle cars to shine. The new 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR sold for $550,000 (purchased by Rob Pratte); the “Le Mans blue” 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 that was driven on-stage by late night host, Jay Leno sold for $1 million (to Corvette collector, Dave Ressler) and the long-awaited, 2008 Dodge Challenger drew a bid of $400,000. In addition, B-J CEO/Chairman, Craig Jackson, purchased the ?08 Challenger with all proceeds benefiting the local charity ?Not My Kid, Inc.? Other notable cars included the RCR Series 3 Camaro, which hammered at $575,000, and was purchased by Jimmy Richardson of Mom ?N? Pops Hams.
Grey?s Anatomy star, Patrick Dempsey brought his 2005 Ford Mustang FR500C Koni Challenge racecar to auction and it went for $200,000. But, the most visual item for auction was Robosaurus, a fire-breathing car crushing four-story robot, which drew a high bid of $575,000.
Some of the ?stars? of the auction included, Television’s Monkeemobile, based on a Pontiac GTO went for $360,000, the “Beverly Hillbillies” custom jalopy truck, which went for $125,000, a 1972 Lincoln recreation of the 1960?s television show?s Batmobile, hammered at $185,000, one of the 1966 Ford Thunderbirds used in the movie “Thelma and Louise,? which walked off for $65,000, and the gaudy “Miami Vice” movie boat plus matching Hummer, sold for $175,000.

I highly recommend the Barrett-Jackson auction. The timing is perfect –the middle of January. Even though the temperatures were not in the seventies (it was actually a seasonable 65 degrees average during the day), this is a perfect way to break up the winter before the racing season.

Share Button