The World's Greatest Collector Car Auction Has Arrived -- Yet Again
If "Those who die with the most toys wins!" is your mantra in life, the prestigious Barrett-Jackson car auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., is a great place to snatch up a few new (or old) ones. Car collectors -- both first-time and long-time -- descend upon this annual event with checkbooks in hand, looking for great deals on the rarest and most sought-after rides hitting the market. These "great deals" could be to the tune of seven figures for icons such as the Batmobile (yes, the original). Or likely, much less. In some cases, all proceeds go to charity -- such as with this year's George W. Bush 2009 Ford F-150. This year's event runs from Jan. 13 to Jan. 20.
Interview With Craig Jackson, CEO of Barrett-Jackson:
- What makes a car a "collectible"?
- Craig Jackson: Rarity and desirability are the two factors that make a car "collectible". People want what they can't have, and rarity comes in many forms. Sometimes it's a one-off concept, and others it's an engine or options package on a mass-produced vehicle. One example is a 1948 Tucker Torpedo, one of only 51 produced, that was part of the Barrett-Jackson Salon Collection at our 2012 Scottsdale Auction. It sold for more than $2.9 million, which is almost three times the selling price of any previous Tucker.
- What car is going to steal the show this year?
- CJ: We don't expect any 'one' car to steal the show, but there definitely seem to be a few that are causing quite a stir in the car collector community. From Hollywood icons like the original Batmobile to rare muscle cars like the 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda convertible, every car on the block has its own unique piece of automotive history and crowd appeal. Car collecting is a very personal experience, so what may be important and alluring to one collector, may not be the case for someone else.
- What are most unique cars in this year's show -- and why?
- CJ: Numerous vehicles are crossing the block in Scottsdale that are 'one-of-a-kind'. The Green Hornet Shelby Prototype, for example, is arguably the rarest and most desirable Shelby Mustang of all time. It's the car that started it all ... and fully authenticated. It is, as Carroll Shelby said "the one and only Green Hornet." Clark Gable's 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe (pictured above) is also one to watch. Known as one of the most celebrated two-seaters of all time, this car was bought by the "King of Hollywood" himself and is said to have carried Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow, Vivien Liegh and Ava Gardner.
- What do buyers need to know about a car before buying one in an auction such as Barrett-Jackson?
- CJ: Research is important when buying any collector car to ensure the buyer is getting exactly what they want. Decoding a Vehicles Identification Numbers (VIN), researching how the car was restored and even for verifying a vehicle's provenance with a historical service -- should all be done before picking up a paddle. Some Barrett-Jackson bidders are simply looking for their childhood dream car, but our more serious collectors know that time, research and patience are all part of the game.
- What's the best way to inspect a classic car before buying one?
- CJ: The best way to inspect a car is by doing your homework first. Buyers must research about the make and model of the car that they are about to buy because knowing the car's strengths and weaknesses is key to the visual inspection. After that, with the permission of the owner, one should inspect the interior, exterior, and under the hood for any obvious signs of damage.
- How much do you anticipate President George W. Bush's 2009 Ford F-150 will get at this auction? Why?
- CJ: As this is one of our popular charity cars, it's hard to say how much Bush's Ford F-150 will sell for. Over the years our bidders and fans have proven themselves to be a big-hearted group of people and we are very excited that the proceeds of this car will go to the Fisher House Foundation. It's all about atmosphere inside the tent, the generous hearts of our audience and this amazing opportunity to own a piece of presidential automotive history. I can't wait to see what it sells for.
- Any new trends you can point to from auctions over the past few years?
- CJ: Last year's auctions proved that rare, high-end cars are gaining popularity nationwide. At the Las Vegas auction, there was a pattern of Shelby's that were breaking world records (Mustang Shelby Super Snake, 1970 GT500, etc.), which proves that collectors' affinity for muscle cars is here to stay. Resto-mods are also hot right now because baby boomers want to drive the dream cars of their youth, but they still want everyday reliability and comfort along with the latest technologies.
- How are the buyers different at your Scottsdale event vs. a different market -- such as Las Vegas?
- CJ: At Scottsdale, car fans, serious collectors and families intermingle to create this welcoming community of enthusiasts. Whether you're buying your first collector car or your 50th, it's all about international car fans coming together to celebrate the automobile, and I think that is what sets Scottsdale apart. This location has been Barrett-Jackson's home for over 40 years and now kids who grew up in our auction tent are returning with their children and grandchildren to share in their passion for car collecting. It's a multi-generational event that can't be replicated anywhere else.
Craig Jackson is the Chairman/CEO of Barrett-Jackson and son of Russ Jackson, who co-founded the company with Tom Barrett in 1971. Jackson is widely considered one of the world's most respected car collector and restoration experts.