As I was going to the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2015 auction, a thought occurred to me: I have been going to this event for over 10 years! During that time, I have seen the auction grow and change with the collector car market.
In case you are not familiar with Barrett-Jackson, their annual Scottsdale auction is THE collector car event of the year. It’s like the Super Bowl of cars – no other auction has more cars, more attendees, or more media attention than this one. For car guys, visiting is a sacred rite of passage to worship at the altar of speed. It’s hallowed ground, like the Bonneville Salt Flats or Daytona Beach or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Certain years were landmark years for Barrett-Jackson, like when they sold the GM Heritage Collection in 2009, or when they had a tribute to Carroll Shelby in 2013. The theme of this year’s show was of course the Ron Pratte Collection.
I was really jazzed up to see this year’s event, but a couple of things happened that took a bit of the wind out of my sails. Starting in 2015, members of the press no longer get tickets to the opening night gala with their registration. Personally, I was very disappointed at not being invited to take part in this year’s event, which I have enjoyed greatly in the past. I’m sure the decision was a result of a record number of registered bidders or something like that, but I was really looking forward to going!
As I was walking around the show, I noticed that several of the cars in this year’s catalog were repeats from past auctions. Of course, Barrett-Jackson sells on consignment and they cannot control which cars people decide to sell. It would do them no good to refuse to sell a car simply because it had recently been sold by them. And yet, I saw a lot of familiar wheels this year.
At the Scottsdale 2013 event, one of the cars in the Salon Collection was a black Ferrari F40 done by Gas Monkey Garage. Last year it sold for $643,500 to retired MLB player Reggie Jackson. The same car was back again this year, where it sold for $742,500!
I recognized the same 1939 LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster that sold for $269,500 in 2013. The owner, PGA legend Bubba Watson sold the car in 2015 for $410,000 with all proceeds going to the charity Birdies for the Brave.
Even the famous GM Futurliner bus #011 from the Ron Pratte collection was the same one that was auctioned in 2006. Back then it went for $4.4 million, whereas this year it had a hammer price of $4.0 million with the proceeds benefiting the Armed Forces Foundation.
Finally, you may recall the sole surviving 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 “Super Snake” that Barrett-Jackson sold for a record-breaking $5.5 million back in 2007 – making it the most expensive car the auction house has ever sold. That same car crossed the block again this year, fetching $5.1 million.
Now, don’t go thinking that I didn’t enjoy this year’s show. Although there were a few speed bumps, I have to say that I immensely enjoyed the Scottsdale 2015 auction. The feeling of excitement upon entering the main auction pavilion was just as strong as it was my very first time. All year long, you might be “the car guy” in your social circle, but there is a real buzz that comes from being around thousands of other “car guys.”
I have to say that the Pratte Collection exceeded my expectations. The guy was just a phenomenal collector of everything. There was something in his collection for everyone, from restored cars to customs to trucks and early motorcycles. I particularly liked his Boyd Coddington customs, such as the CheZoom.
At the end of the day, the auction is all about the love of great cars, and that’s what keeps me coming back year after year.