|BARRETT - JACKSON|
|The World's Greatest Classic Car Auction|
|A weekend in January, high desert, sporty roadsters, sunshine, beautiful people and Karmann Ghias; disparate interests converging in an amalgam of high finance, high hopes and high speed. The Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction has become the world-largest and most popular place for man's eternal love of the machine. The '39 Duesenberg, '641/2 Mustang, '55 Belair, are all legendary names in automotive perfection. Hundreds of dream mobiles auctioned off to mere mortals who carry large checkbooks, heavy feet and an overwhelming desire for nostalgia. Cream puff Caddy's, high-tensile T-Birds and sleek-lined sedans are gasped at, whistled to and drooled upon. Four days of endless summer in the middle of the Arizona winter.|
| The Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction, held in Scottsdale, AZ, is an annual event that attracts celebrities, car enthusiasts and dreamers of a yesteryear that no longer exists. In these days of catalytic converters and plastic bumpers it has become a real joy to be able to, once again, see your face bend around chrome and strain a muscle trying to close a car door.
They auction off hundreds of cars in this one long weekend. One every three minutes! The car your Grandpa paid $2,000 for, when it was brand new, can quickly escalate to $150,000.00. The tension ebbs and flows for different people at different times throughout the affair. You may not want to buy that 1954 Dodge but the next lot on the block could be your first car revisited. And here was mine, a red 1966 Chevy Chevelle with a 427 cubic-inch engine and leather interior. Every gleaming inch had me awash in poetic dreams of my youth. Of course, mine only came with the standard six-cylinder, 283, and vinyl bench seats but why not bigger, faster and more luxurious? As I poked my head into its roomy, Shangri-la interior, I delighted in the knobs and shafts that gave me the sense of power over the neighborhood Pacers, Sunbirds and Pintos. How much would I be willing to pay to live the dream again? How about $15,000, $20,000? Well if I have to, maybe $25,000 for a piece of my history.
Much to my dismay, the bidding starts at $22,500 and quickly escalates before I can even contemplate how to explain it to the wife. I manage to raise my bid card by the time it has hit $30,000! What am I doing? Someone else please bid! I would have to sell both of our cars to afford this. She's going to slay me with her roof rack before that happens! A man off to my right, who looks as if he is buying it for his step-grandson, tops me with a bid of $35,00. Another joins the fray as I melt into the shadows. $40,000, $42,500, $45,000, $46,440, going once, going twice, sold! Sold! Someone else just bought my dream car! My heart sickens as I realize that someone, probably named Herman III, bought a car that I once had bought for $300, used, wrecked and then sold for $1,200, for $46,440! I'm going to cry...excuse me...while I wallow in the mire of broken dreams and the knowledge of my weak wallet.
|The Author and His Broken Dream Mobile|
| But hey, you can't win them all! Knowing that I can no longer be a serious bidder has liberated me to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Besides, next on the block is a 1957 Thunderbird! Why was I bidding on that other piece of junk? If the Lottery Gods permitted, that Thunderbird is what I'd buy. Ah, to dream, that is what Barrett-Jackson is all about. So many fine automobiles, not even Bill Gates could buy them all. Even Don Johnson has to sell his to pay his bills. He is here with Cheech Marin selling his fine classics of television fame; the 1989 Ferrari Testarossa from "Miami Vice," the 1970 Plymouth Cuda of his "Nash Bridges" show and even the 1949 Ford Pickup his ex-wife, Melanie Griffith, bought him. People pay twice the amount these cars are worth just to tool around in the surroundings of fame.
Wandering around the humongous bidding tent, I am dazzled by the array of car memorabilia, jewelry and artisans of all types. You can buy a vintage Esso gas pump for your poolroom, a diamond to appease your lover after buying a muscle car for yourself or even Life Magazine ads from 1954 showing your favorite car. I even find the venerable baseball hero, Reggie Jackson, selling baseball mementoes!
|We leave the tent to enjoy the mild weather of Scottsdale. A bright, sunny day shines upon us and we are blinded by the refracted light from the rows of classic automobiles soon to be on the auction block. A 1947 Cadillac, a 1959 Corvette and an eclectic array of specialized machines line the fairgrounds. To my surprise we find some cars that are celebrities in their own right, Herbie the Love Bug and Woody Allen's "Sleeper" car! There is no end to the treats an auto enthusiast can enjoy. The Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction is one of the true great events of the season. You may be a gear head, a collector, a nostalgia buff or just a lover of beauty but at Barrett-Jackson, we all become dreamers!|