The Ultimate Car Show: Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction

The Ultimate Car Show.  1700 Collector Cars all under one Roof.  The Largest Event Production in Scottsdale.  I can think of tons of monikers to describe the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction being held in Scottsdale this week.  You don’t even have to be a car “guy” to appreciate what a tremendous event this is.

We went on Tuesday to get just a flavor of what the event is about.  They funnel you through the vendor tent, about three football fields long, first.  There were vendors of all kinds, from cabinet makers to oil makers; hunting preserves to artists, GMC and Ford, everyone vying for the last dollar in your pocket – assuming you were there to buy cars first.

But most people aren’t, most are there just to take a look at the cars, to be in the same space as a $437,000 Lamborghini; to see the hearse that carried John F. Kennedy; to view any of half a dozen VW bugs, or four Prowlers, or six Broncos, or, or, or.  Anything you can imagine was there – tractors and 4×4’s, motorcycles and wagons, fire trucks and oil trucks; surfboards and signs, all there for the bidding.

The ratio of men to women is probably 40 to 1; the ratio of bidders to sightseers, closer to 200 to 1.  You see, you don’t have to be qualified to just go watch.  To bid, you have to be qualified with a minimum $30K bank letter of credit if you live in the U.S.; if you travel from a foreign land, even as near as Canada, that number jumps to $90K.  But the drooling is free, well, not free, but reasonable.

We loved looking at the acres and acres of cars, there were six huge tents and another several smaller ones with cars lined up side by side.  Bonderant and Ford brought a “driving experience” to the show and the food vendors were prevalent inside and out.  We walked for the first five hours we were there, just looking at all that was available.

The car auction started around 2:00 on Tuesday, with the first sixty or so cars going up on the block before “prime-time.”  At prime-time the prices started jumping by tens of thousands of dollars, SPEED TV was there to broadcast it live to the world. The pressure on the bidders was severe with the camera right in their faces.  We’ve watched the auction on TV before, what we didn’t realize was the magnitude of the facility.  The show doesn’t do it justice.  I bet there was seating for well over 1000 bidders right on the showroom floor.

The auction continues all week, the truly classic, the novel, the interesting, the highest priced will hit the auction block over the weekend.  Early in the week, it almost seemed affordable.  Maybe next year we will come back as buyers now that we know what to expect.  But in the meantime, my hats off to Barrett-Jackson for an incredible production, they got all of it right, from the people-moving to the show, we were truly impressed.

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