It is called the “World’s Greatest Collector Car Auction” and makes every effort to live up to its billing. Staged on the lush greens where million dollar horses will soon do polo exercises, million dollar cars make their grand promenade before thousands. The 42nd Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction proved no less amazing than in past years with a roster of cars no less spectacular and a list of clientele no less affluent.
If you were fortunate enough to view it on The Speed Channel, you were treated to a feast of auto trivia, fact and history from the hosts. With over 100 years of experience and knowledge, you could have made this an accredited course in Automobile 101. Special segments that pit Enzo Ferrari against Carroll Shelby and had experts guess the cars while blindfolded. Let’s say you weren’t able to get away from the conference call on your private jet. Well, that’s okay; there was a live webcast that showed the cars in all their brilliance. You could also see the prices and make bids online while negotiating that merger.
Oh, the cars! Talbot Lagos, Delahayes, Deusenbergs and Pierce Arrows in their entire regal splendor, shown like diamonds under the bright lights. It’s sort of like re-living your first visit to the circus. The only differences are that the cars are the attractions and you are able to buy your own peanuts. There was a while on Saturday evening when every car seemingly sold for over a million dollars in only a few minutes. One car started at $400,000, I looked down and it was at 1 million by the time I looked up again – mere seconds.
Surely, you don’t expect a Hollywood cast at a collector car auction, but late night host, Jay Leno and car king, George Barris stole a little spotlight. Clark Gable even made a special appearance, posthumously of course (through his car being sold). You’ll also be glad to know that the Ford/Shelby tradition lives on as the grandsons of both Carroll Shelby and Henry Ford helped to sell a special-edition Shelby Mustang. Automotive legacy and celebrity were present and accounted for.
Celebrity does not come cheap, but if you pony up enough cash, you can become a luminary in the car world. There are names known only to the annals of autodom, but held in high regard – some famous elsewhere. Some made famous under the Scottsdale tent. People like Don Williams, Ron Pratt and Alan “Mr. Ferrari Hat Guy” Lewenthal. The newest addition to this hallowed list is Mr. Rick Champagne (a man with an appropriate name), who bought the Batmobile for a meager $ 4.2 million dollars and has stated that he plans to keep it in his living room (for that much money, you can afford to build the house around it). Adding even more to the story, an equally well-heeled bidder agreed to a coin toss to determine who would actually acquire the famous car. Yes, the C7 Corvette Stingray made a tour stop here as well. The sight-unseen, yet-to-be- sold, first Corvette sold to a fellow from North Carolina. Maybe you’ve heard of him? — Rick Hendrick.
Barrett-Jackson hosts a three more auctions this year (West Palm Beach, Reno and Las Vegas). Hopefully, you can witness one, live or televised, before year’s end. You need not have a net worth of 300 million or be a race car mogul. All you need to have is an appreciation for cars. No matter where you are in life, a B-J Auction will make you smile. It is an experience on par with The Super Bowl and The Daytona 500, which also air around the same time. My goal is to walk among the high rollers, rub elbows with the heavy consigners and see for myself what it’s like to go to the circus again. The rich can’t have all the fun! Car Guys/Gals, for us, this may very well be “The Greatest Show on Earth”.