Barrett-Jackson Northeast, Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort, Uncasville, Connecticut, June 23-25, 2016
When Barrett-Jackson announced its first auction in New England many people schooled in the region’s collector car auction history scratched their heads and wondered, ‘why’?
New Englanders are feisty, flinty, skeptical and inherently deal-seeking. Add in proximity to New York City and it gets even worse. New England is a tough environment where only a few collector car auctions have, despite a lively collecting and vintage racing scene, survived, and then only on a small scale.
Hints that the Mohegan Tribal Council and Mohegan Sun management were auto-centric suggested possibilities, but nothing, as in nothing, prepared for the transformation that Mohegan Sun and Barrett-Jackson worked on the landscape of Mohegan Sun, a tightly constrained and intricately interwoven site along the Thames River in Uncasville, roughly halfway between New York and Boston.
Barrett-Jackson brought its full experience [perhaps better called a spectacle] with vendors, exhibitors, thrill rides with professional drivers from Ford, Dodge and Chevy and an array of food trucks to complement Mohegan Sun’s not-insignificant array of eateries.
There were no deep fried turkey legs as in WestWorld, but you could have a decent lobster roll. How much New England is that?
duPont Registry’s Tom duPont commented, ‘They left nothing at home, bringing everything that is Barrett-Jackson. That’s the difference between this auction and prior collector car auctions in New England where the companies cautiously dipped their toes in the water. Barrett-Jackson left nothing off the table.’
And the crowd responded. Thursday was mobbed. MaryBeth Anderson, publisher of the Barrett-Jackson catalogs, agreed that Thursday at Mohegan Sun was thronged like Saturday at WestWorld. It only got worse.
By Friday all the spectator tickets for Saturday were sold out; they literally ran out of printed tickets. Bidder registration ran a third or more over estimate; the bidder area on the Arena floor filled up and overflowed into the upper level seats.
It was a sensation for car collectors in the Northeast, an opportunity to see, feel and taste the Barrett-Jackson extravaganza without having to fly to Phoenix or Palm Beach.
Wait? ‘What about the cars’ you ask?
The consignment was, according to Craig Jackson, about 20 percent over what they had expected. Regular Barrett-Jackson consignors brought fleets of cars from places where they’d never been exposed to the Northeast’s cold winters, slushy highways and winters of ice melting salt and chemicals. It created a rare opportunity to transfuse some fresh blood into the Northeast’s collector car pool, and collectors took advantage of it.
The one shortcoming of the Mohegan Sun location was using a parking structure to display and preview the auction cars. It was dark, dank, dimly and erratically lit, making it a great place to sell cars with problems: without a good flashlight it wasn’t possible to see much of anything. One smart consignor with a quality car bought four stick-on LED light pucks to show off the car’s immaculate engine compartment. The pictures of cars in the garage in this report are a tribute to the quality and flexibility of modern digital photography; it was a lot darker than it looks.
Prices? Some were low, some were high, most were just right. Selling the expensive Showcase cars consigned with reserves proved to be difficult, as has been the case since the beginning of the year. The much maligned ‘1%’ is keeping its hands in its pockets while the ‘middle class’ seems to be alive, well and feeling flush, at least that’s the impression that selling vast numbers of $33,000 cars creates. Wall Street plutocrats from Fairfield County are not buying 383 Super Bees, it’s plumbers, dentists, attorneys and UPS drivers.
Barrett-Jackson has a five-year deal with Mohegan Sun and after this year’s success both Barrett-Jackson and the Sun are undoubtedly looking forward to 2017.
So am I.
Cars Offered / Sold
562 / 542
Andrew Newton contributed on-site observations for about 2/3 of the cars described.