Barrett-Jackson, WestWorld, Scottsdale, Arizona, January 14-19, 2014
Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor
Barrett-Jackson opened a completely revised auction site in 2014.
Gone was the famed giant fabric covered auction arena with its huge American flag. Gone were the flood prone preview tents in the ‘Polo Field’ catchment basin. Gone were the rows of plastic and trailer potties.
The new site is anchored by a sparkling new permanent auction arena lavishly equipped with the latest high-tech sound, video and communications gimmickry and, it was noted proudly by Craig Jackson, extensive permanent toilets designed to meet the needs of the huge Barrett-Jackson crowd. A row of temporary structures that qualified for a Guinness record, eight tenths of a mile from the spectator entrance to the last row of cars, housed the premier consignments – as well as a continuous array of vendor and sponsor displays vying for the attention and dollars of the Barrett-Jackson bidders, their guests and hundreds of thousands of walk-in day trippers.
Between the auction complex and a row of more tents every one of the 1,403 cars consigned had a place under cover.
It was a nearly miraculous make-over completed in the less than one year since the last hammer fell at Barrett-Jackson’s 2013 WestWorld auction. If there were glitches in the implementation they were essentially invisible, a credit to Barrett-Jackson’s organization and the dedication of its team.
Barrett-Jackson included seventy-five ‘Salon’ lots and all but four of them found new homes, adding the cream of the crop of hyper-rare American muscle and classics to the selection offered to B-J’s eclectic audience. The return of great classics to Barrett-Jackson is one of the most important sub-topics of the WestWorld sale’s development over the past few years.
Overall Barrett-Jackson sold 99.7% of the cars offered, achieving another record sale of $111,023,715, a total up a bit from the early post-sale totals after some significant post-block sales. The revised total is up 8.2% from 2013 and 22.6% from 2012, a number that rivals the last two years’ growth in China’s GDP.
Other things changed, too, and not for the better.
Media were denied access to the auction arena and to the ‘Salon’ cars, resulting in the ‘Restricted access, not viewed closely’ description of a number of the Salon cars. The limitation is a disservice to the wider audience for Barrett-Jackson’s premier event. The cars can’t be observed and reported, a restriction that serves no purpose. Where the cars were displayed close to the limiting barriers they were reported somewhat more accurately, but even then without access to important details. The block itself was totally out of bounds: no experiencing the high-octane excitement that lends flavor to any Barrett-Jackson event report.
All things considered, though, the new Barrett-Jackson WestWorld event was a further step forward – maybe even a leap forward – in the Barrett-Jackson collector car event presentation. The restrictions on reporting it may call into question ‘what’s behind the curtain’, but what’s out front is a spectacular celebration of car collecting and the joy it brings to its participants.