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Barrett-Jackson Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

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by Austin C. Craig  More from Author

Sports and Hollywood Stars and 230,000 people attend Weeklong Festivities

Barrett-Jackson celebrated its 40th anniversary with a weeklong lifestyle event at their traditional Scottsdale, Arizona Westworld site. Sports and Hollywood starts including car guys like; Bret Michaels, Tim Allen, and Bill Goldberg. Both Michaels and Goldberg consigned personal vehicles for the 40th Anniversary Event. They were not alone as Sylvester Stallone, Alan Jackson and Jesse James also consigned vehicles. Baseball stars Randy Johnson, Boston Red Sox center fielder and Houston Astros infielder Bill Hall purchased cars during the auction.

Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction was started by Tom Barrett and Russ Jackson in 1971 in Scottsdale and today Russ’ son Craig and his talented organization have grown the auction into a weeklong lifestyle event that includes everything from a cruise- in, Road Rally, Mother’s Car Care Seminars, celebrity catwalk fashion show, Dillards fashion show and the always entertaining Opening Night Gala.

Craig Jackson said it best when he summed up the week’s activities. “Barrett-Jackson has become far more than just an auction; it is a celebration that attracts everyone from captains of industry to celebrities and athletes who want to be part of this fantastic event. We sold more cars for more money than any other collector car event in North America. We have proved the collector car hobby is growing with record breaking attendance as well as a new number of bidders and consignors. This is no longer an ‘old boys club.’ We have transformed it into a mainstream event much like the NFL Championship game, Kentucky Derby or New Year’s Eve in Times Square.”

Attendance this year was up nearly 30 percent from 2010 despite competing with NFL playoff games. First time attendees are amazed with all of the activity that goes on at the site. Ford Motor Company, a long time sponsor, provided an opportunity to drive their latest vehicles on a special Ride ’N Drive course. Providing seat time for everything from Shelby GT350s, Taurus SHOs to the latest Mustangs equipped with Ford Racing Performance Parts. The Ford exhibit was also a hotbed of activity all week with a Mustang drag race simulator where selected participants tested their reaction skills.

The midway is always packed with performance displays of all kinds. Of particular interest were the Shelby American, Superformance and Roush displays that showcased their latest performance offerings. The Mothers Wax display featured a 1968 Mustang Bullitt built by Gateway Classic Mustang and owned by Steve McQueen’s son Chad.

Inside the big series of tents leading to the auction attendees were treated to a wide assortment of venders selling everything from gas pumps, neon signs and all kinds of memorabilia. Many different kinds of collectables were also offered. Included in the vendor area were framed pictures of Gary Cooper and just about any movie star of the last five decades.

All the consigned vehicles are parked under tents while the featured ones are in the exhibit near the actual auction block. These are the high dollar cars, truck and boats surrounded by all kinds of memorabilia that will be auctioned off during the week. There are enough items from dealerships, gas stations and parts stores from the ’40s, through the ’60s to equip “dream garages” many times over.


Research is Key

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of interviewing Barrett-Jackson Chairman and CEO Craig Jackson, President Steve Davis and during the 40th Celebration in Scottsdale, Vice President of Consignment Gary Bennett. All three agree that the company spends a lot of time and money researching the pedigrees of vehicles before they go over the auction block to provide bidders with the most complete documented data available.

Gary Bennett pointed out during my interview that last year a car was represented as being owned by a rock and roll legend. Documents were presented but not all questions about the car could be answered so the car was pulled. Bennett is a lifelong “car guy” who I met at the Mid-America Ford and Team Shelby Nationals over a decade ago. Gary was a very successful businessman in Tulsa, Oklahoma, prior to coming on board with Barrett-Jackson in 2001. Since joining Barrett-Jackson, he has led the effort to research the pedigree of vehicles offered at all four Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions.

“Research is so important, we spent over 500 hours on the Navy ambulance that was reported to be the ambulance that transported President Kennedy’s body from Air Force One to Bethesda Naval Hospital trying to make sure that all the facts and documentation about the vehicle was available. The company stood by the consignor and provided documents from both sides of the argument. In the end the ambulance was sold and the new owner was pleased with the purchase,” Gary Bennett stated. “We check every car and want the seller to present all the facts on their vehicles. Kevin Marti and his Marti Reports have been a huge help in documenting and verifying many of the Ford Motor Company cars and trucks we offer for sale.”

Bennett said the company embraces new owners and buyers that are coming into the hobby. He also told us that in the beginning Russ Jackson and Tom Barrett were primarily interested in the cars of the ’20s and ’30s, and with the passage of time and the people who desired these cars, they are not the dominant cars of today. New buyers want to relive their youth and purchase cars they once had or aspired to. Today muscle cars, Resto-mods, Hot Rods, contemporary classics and customs are the most popular cars to cross the auction block. This year at their 40th Celebration almost 50 percent of the total bidders were taking home vehicles for the first time. More than 45 percent of consignors were also new to the Barrett-Jackson scene.

Gary Bennett and his consignment team work hard to manage the expectations of consignors, with their knowledge of the collector car market they are able to advise sellers on what is a realistic price their vehicle will bring. Since Barrett-Jackson is a No Reserve auction where the seller cannot set a minimum price, the knowledge and subsequent advice Gary Bennett and his team provide the consignor is the key to a successful sale.


Four Million Dollars Raised for Charity

Charity is part of the Barrett-Jackson culture and this year at their 40th anniversary nearly four million dollars was raised. Leading the charge was a new, one-of- a-kind 2012 Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca model.

The Grabber Blue Boss 302 Laguna Seca will be the only Boss offered this year in that color and together with its special wheels and accents made for a very desirable car. Presented by Ford Motor Company, Mark Fields, President of the Americas, was present on the podium and stated all the proceeds from the sale of the one-off 2012 Boss 302 would go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The new owner also would receive a Miller Driving School performance driving course.

The bidding for the Boss was spirited, adding to the excitement were Bret Michaels and Bill Goldberg who exhorted the bidders to support the worthy charity. They did. The 2012 Boss 302 Laguna Seca sold for $450,000 dollars, earning the top sale of the event.

Another charity that benefited at the Barrett-Jackson auction was the Darrell Gwynn Foundation. Darrell Gwynn was a top fuel racer and NHRA Champion when he was paralyzed in a crash on the Santa Pod dragway in England. Never one to quit, Darrell and his family founded the Darrell Gwynn Foundation to provide awareness, prevention, support and ultimately a cure for paralysis. This year a 1974 Mercury Montego Street Version of the famed Wood Brothers race car David Pearson won the 1976 Daytona 500 in was presented for sale. Built by Gateway Classic Mustang in Bourbon, Missouri, the exceptionally well turned out Montego generated $90,000 for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.

Stephen Becker and the Planet Cobra auctioned off a Shelby Cobra CSX 4000 roadster and another sports car and raised $280,000 for the Barrett-Jackson Cancer Research Fund in memory of Craig Jackson’s father, Russ and his brother Brian who lost their lives to cancer.

These are but three of the many charities that benefited from the concentrated Barrett-Jackson to give back to worthy causes. “The company provides time on the auction block and waives all fees and commissions on charity vehicles,” said Steve Davis, President of Barrett-Jackson. “This includes promoting the charity vehicles leading into the event through our marketing efforts at no charge to the charity. The winning bidders write a check directly to the organization.”

It has been 40 years since Tom Barrett and Russ Jackson held their first auction in Scottsdale. They would be more than pleased to see their dream realized on such a grand scale, at this fun to attend, most enjoyable, weeklong, lifestyle event.


Mustangs are always a favorite at Barrett-Jackson and this 1966 red convertible created considerable interest on the auction block. Equipped with a 289 4bbl and automatic with Pony interior, rare AM/FM radio, Rally-Pac and Cobra engine dress kit. An excellent representative of the Mustang Brand, it sold for $53,900.


With only nine registered miles this 1994 Mustang Cobra Indy 500 Pace Car street edition brought $33,000. Clean, well detailed and documented vehicles always do well at Barrett-Jackson.


The AutoTrader Classics’ exhibit showcased this well turned out tricked out truck.


There are bargains at Barrett-Jackson like this very well detailed 1966 F-100, equipped with a six-cylinder with three on the tree. It went for $11,200.


The Ford display featured the new 2012 Boss 302 Laguna Seca model on a rotating stage.


This 1962 custom Falcon was built by former Holman-Moody fabricator, Ken Thompson as a tribute to the company’s Falcon Challenger race cars of the early ’60s. The Falcon equipped with a Ford Indy Engine and turbo makes over 1,000 horsepower and thanks to today’s electronics can be driven on the street. It sold for $77,000.


A one-off Grabber Blue 2012 Boss 302 Laguna Seca was donated by Ford Motor Company with the proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The Mustang brought $450,000 and was the top seller of the Barrett-Jackson 40th Annual Scottsdale Auction.


Vintage Ford pickups are very popular and this beautiful 1959 F-1 was a two-owner, it had the original tool kit and was completely restored with deluxe interior. Here being checked out by Jim Wicks, noted Ford vintage vehicle expert. The F-1 brought $37,400.


Gary Bennett, Vice President of Consignment is a long time “car guy.” Gary and his team are responsible for not only the consignment of over 11,400 vehicles at the 40th Celebration, but also the documentation of the cars. Extremely knowledgeable about the collector car market, Gary advises consignors on what their vehicle might bring on the auction block, to help manage their expectations.


Bidders checked out this 2008 Shelby GT convertible, an excellent example, with only 4,000 miles, the car brought $41,800.


Ford Motor Company sponsors a ride and drive, giving people a chance to drive the company’s latest offerings, including the Shelby GT350.


This billboard for a 1967 Ford is one of many signs and memorabilia offered at Barrett-Jackson.


At Barrett-Jackson the automobile collectibles and memorabilia sections offer a wide variety of items.


Proudly standing by the 1976 street version they built of the Mercury Montego David Pearson won the 1976 Daytona 500 are from left; Lonnie Childress, Jason Childress and Mike White. The Childress brothers own Gateway Classic Mustang in Bourbon, Missouri, and White is the fabricator who spent four months building the car. The extremely well-detailed Montego is powered by a Ford Racing 521cid engine and sold for $90,000 with all the proceeds going to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.


Shelby American commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the original street Cobra by unveiling a Special Edition CSX800 Series Cobra. Pictured here is Gary Patterson, Vice Present of Sales and Service, explaining the features of the car. A total of 50 will be built and within 48 hours of the press conference all 50 were sold. Price for the fiberglass version is $69,995 and $134,995 for the aluminum model, these prices are without the drive train.


One of the keys to a successful sale is to market the vehicle correctly. Shown here with his computer is Kevin Manley of Kevin’s Klassic Cars next to the Boss 429 his company restored and brought to the auction. Note the display boards and information Kevin has provided for bidders. Being with the car is also important to answer bidder questions. Manley’s due diligence paid off as the Boss 429 with only 219 documented miles sold for $235,000.


The Mustang Club of America had two displays at Barrett-Jackson, one provided by Ford Motor Company. Pictured here from left are Austin Craig, President Steve Prewitt, Rick Umberger, Ed Hockaday and Tim Hahn. Kneeling are past MCA President Steve McCarley and Robert Parker, Ford Motor Company Small and Midsize Vehicles Group Marketing Manager.


The Kicker Performance Audio Fiesta was showcased in the Ford exhibit and features the very latest in car audio technology.


Restored to concourse quality, this beautiful 1954 Ford Sunliner, a former magazine cover car, featured Ford’s first overhead valve 239 cid engine with three speed automatic and was perfect in every detail after a 12-year restoration. Bidders thought so as the car brought $55,000.


This 1963 Mercury Marauder is one of only 7,298 built. It featured a 390cid engine and three-speed automatic. Well detailed inside and out it went for $11,400 on the first day of the auction.


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