This past weekend we crossed another “we should do that one day” off our list. We attended the 2013 Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. With the possible exception of the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, it is hard to imagine a better location to “car spot.”
This nationally televised event
will hurt your feet is huge. Per the press release, it “generated nearly $109 Million in gross sales of rare, high-end collectible vehicles, exotics, customs, classics, hot rods and resto-mods during its 42nd annual Arizona auction at WestWorld of Scottsdale, Jan 13-20, 2013.”
Some specific numbers from this year:
- 1,343 cars sold
- $108,766,069 gross sales
- 300,000 in attendance
- Charity cars – 21 total for $5,005,000
Unlike an event like Pebble Beach, the diversity of vehicles on display at the BJA is spectacular. While all are in great shape, the cars sold range from “couldn’t build that car for that” to
“I wonder which organized crime family is trying to launder money” “someone is shrewdly investing their life savings!”
What follows is our top 10 list of cars that made us
drool say “Cool!”, “Wow”, &/or “I’d drive that!”
1. Lot: 5016 – 1949 DELAHAYE TYPE 175 SAOUTCHIK COUPE DE VILLE
While my wife and I might not totally agree on the selections/order for the top 10, we both agree that this car was the most beautiful piece of rolling art we have ever seen. From a “car spotting” perspective, this vehicle made the trip worth it… the car guy/gal equivalent of going to the Musée du Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. No pictures can do it justice.14 carat gold & crystal accouterments on a curvy French beauty – truly transcendent!
2. Lot: 5019 – 1947 TALBOT-LAGO T-26 GRAND SPORT
Parked beside the Delahaye was this more masculine example from the era. Pure elegance.
3. Lot: 450 – 1959 FIAT AUTOBIANCHI TRANSFORMABLE SEMI CONVERTIBLE
I love, love, loved this little
death trap car! It totally reminded me of Susie the Little Blue Coupe.
4. Lot: 972 – 1957 FORD THUNDERBIRD CUSTOM CONVERTIBLE
I have to admit that we are a little jaded when it comes to 50’s T-Birds and early Corvettes as they are show up in numbers at virtually every car show. However, this custom pink car with its unique rumble seat reminded me of why I liked these cars so much when we first started in the hobby.
5. Lot: 1306 – 1954 BUICK SKYLARK CONVERTIBLE
I love the rear taillight treatment on this 50’s classic.
6. Lot: 972.1 – 1957 CHRYSLER 300C 2 DOOR COUPE
Black, large wings, hemi… this car defines BA.
7. Lot: 960.1 – 1957 BUICK CENTURY CUSTOM WAGON
We have a fondness of station wagons in our house. This was a beautiful example.
8. Lot: 1074 – 1960 PLYMOUTH FURY CONVERTIBLE
Giant wings. Yes, we
have eccentric taste are predictable. 🙂
9. Lot: 988 – 1957 STUDEBAKER GOLDEN HAWK COUPE
More wings in an orphan make. We’d drive that.
This combo was too cool. Another station wagon, but this time with an incredibly well-matched, era specific boat.
- Lot: 5037 – #1 BATMOBILE
Like a celebrity, this car gathered crowds. The fact that the original Batmobile sold for $4.62 million dollars to a lifelong fan (the second-highest single-car sale at Barrett-Jackson ever) made this a must mention.
- Lot: 994 – 1964 AUSTIN-HEALEY 3000 MARK III BJ8 CONVERTIBLE
There were a number of “Big Healeys” on the auction list. As owners of a ’59 Sprite, we have an emerging fondness for these big brothers of our car.
- Lot: 1232 – 1970 PLYMOUTH HEMI ‘CUDA RE-CREATION 2 DOOR
Muscle cars are currently the hot category of vehicles at the BJA. While my wife and I buck the trend (we are generally into wings, wagons, and 50’s cars), the thinking goes that cars that teenagers loved, but could not afford, eventually go for big bucks as collector cars once those same teens reach their 40’s & 50’s.
It was our privilege to share a shuttle to the event with a couple from Calgary who had traveled to the event to try and buy this vehicle. The pure joy on their faces when we saw them later – after they had successfully bought what they came for – was priceless. The BFA is where dreams come true – and sometimes are crushed. That drama is all a part of this event.
A few tips if you plan to attend:
- If you are just there to “car spot,” it is possible, although exhausting, to see the site in one day. For the most drama, go the final Saturday. Go early and start in the premiere show area attached to the far side of the bidding area. This area gets very full as the day progresses.
- If you are there to buy a cool, relatively affordable car, go either the first couple days of bidding or the last. For example, Lot: 1532, a 1954 Oldsmobile 98 custom two door hardtop, sold for under $15,000 on the Sunday; a 1999 Jaguar XK8 Convertible (Lot 1519) for $11k. That is in sharp contrast to the six and seven digit prices of most of the Saturday lots.
- If you are into country fair type food, there is amazing stuff here. If you are on a diet, bring some granola bars.
- There are running water portable washrooms on site. The group of them outside the main automobile display tent (attached to the auction hall) rarely had a line-up, even for the ladies.
- Keep an eye out for celebs. For example, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon walked right by us.
- The crowd includes some very high-rollers. If you are trying to market
yourselfa product to this audience, there are opportunities to do so. For example, in the exhibit area, there were high end resort lodges from BC attracting clients. Kind of apropos given the noticeable number of ladies and gents wearing their “hunting” clothes Saturday night. Quite the spectacle!Private jet and high-end trailer manufactures were also on hand.
So cross another to-see-one-day item off our list. If you are into cars, this is a pilgrimage worth the
in our case, “very trying but that’s another story” journey.