The Barrett-Jackson collector car action, one of Scottsdale’s premier events, gets under way on Sunday for a week of beautiful cars, high bidding and even some bull riding.
“We’re an automotive lifestyle experience,” said Craig Jackson, chief executive of the company, which mounts auctions in four locations, Scottsdale being the main site and location of the company headquarters.
The WestWorld location of the auction, with a new building financed in part by Barrett-Jackson, provides an improved site with room for thousands of visitors, many just looking but many others bidding on more than 1,400 vehicles.
“We had 300,000 visitors last year,” Jackson said. “With good weather, we could see up to 325,000 this year.”
The people, and the cars, will be spread out on 1 million square feet of space. Jackson said he is especially pleased that no vehicles will be stored or displayed on low ground, where flooding after major rains has been a problem in the past, and that visitors no longer will have to use portable toilets.
The new building, with room for more than 10,000 onlookers, will be the site of the primary auctions. It also will protect much of the event from the elements, along with the permanent tent at the site, near Loop 101 and Pima Road.
“The market is on fire,” Jackson said. “The high end of the market has pulled the entire market up.”
Barrett-Jackson kicks off and concludes auto auction week in Arizona. Five other auctions are taking place during the Barrett-Jackson auction at various locations around the Valley.
Barrett-Jackson is the big one, and while it may not have a Batmobile this year — the car, a modified 1955 Lincoln Futura concept, sold last year for $4.6 million to Phoenix-area collector Rick Champagne, a businessman who has been attending the Barrett-Jackson auctions for years — it will feature plenty of sweet rides.
Among the vehicles showing at this year’s auction: an L88 Corvette, a limited edition car which could draw the auction’s highest price; Simon Cowell’s Bugatti Veyron, with proceeds supporting the Make a Wish Foundation; and hot rods from Don “the Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen.
Also to be sold is Gene Simmons’ and Shannon Tweed’s 1956 Ford F-100, with proceeds going to construction of a children’s hospital in Tweed’s home province of Saskatchewan, Canada.
The first two days of the event, Sunday and Monday, are for exhibition only. Auctioning begins Tuesday, Jan. 14, with the Automobilia auction of car-related collectibles and the collector car auction.
The biggest sales are expected on Jan. 18 and 19, the final two days of the event.
“There is nothing else like this,” Jackson said. “This is the barometer of the collector-car market.”
Jackson said no other auction attracts as many qualified bidders “in one room at one time.”
He said half the registered bidders are newcomers to the collector-car market, and they spend 40 percent of the money.
And the bull riding? That was an event that caught Jackson’s eye recently, so he added it to the show this year. The event, put on by the Professional Bull Riders, will take place in the Miller Lite Garage at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The organization is looking into whether it should create a sanctioned event for next year’s auto auction.
Tickets range in price, depending on the day. The highest price: $60 for the Jan. 18 events. Each day’s full price is discounted substantially after 5 p.m.