Classic Car Capital

Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2015 – Auction Report

Barrett-Jackson, WestWorld, Scottsdale, Arizona, January 13-18, 2015

All props to Barrett-Jackson, no matter how it is cut, sliced and mixed. This is the grand daddy of collector car auctions and within its ebbs and flows mirrors the car collecting hobby better than anything else.

There is a law of large numbers at work here. With 1,628 cars crossing the block in six days of nearly non-stop commercial excess, it’s hard to miss a trend. But Barrett-Jackson works hard to smoke them out before others tumble to them.

Hundreds of vendors flock to fill the acres (soon to be measured in square miles?) of space under the buildings and tents at WestWorld. Their offerings similarly mirror the tastes (if that word can be applied) of the bidders, guests, sponsors and a daily deluge of walk-ins who part with up to $60 just to partake of the spectacle.

In a quarter century of chronicling collector car auctions I’ve never wavered from a simple expression: Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction is “Barrett-Jackson” followed by a year. Other Barrett-Jackson sites, Palm Beach, Las Vegas, LA, Orange County and Reno, specify the location.

This is ‘Barrett-Jackson.’

There is no other.

The bare numbers are eye-opening:

Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
1628 / 1606
$45,100 [55.3%]
1403 / 1399
$49,500 [62.4%]
1312 / 1308
$44,000 [55.0%]

The average car this year at $89,100 (rounding taken into account) was a ’69 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi Hardtop.

One of the median cars at $45,100 was an FJ40 Land Cruiser (described later).

Barrett-Jackson has a huge audience with its television presence and it has effectively used its exposure to expand not only its footprint but also the opportunities it offers to the multitudes who watch and eventually visit.

The experimentation with new ideas is especially visible in what Barrett-Jackson calls The Salon Collection. It was added as a separate segment in 2012 featuring a selection of high value classics, sports cars and concepts. Positioned at the front of the enclosed preview area, The Salon Collection gave everyone who walked into Barrett-Jackson a quick dose of cars unlike the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s American, sports, muscle, custom and resto-mods (another category pioneered by Barrett-Jackson) that filled the preview tents. It started slow with just 32 lots in 2012, but all but three of them sold and brought a total of $18,282,700, 20.2% of the $90 million Barrett-Jackson total in 2012.

Importantly, the Salon Collection demonstrated that, after years of catering to a mostly American, mostly 50’s-70’s era market, Barrett-Jackson could and did sell classic marques like Packard, Isotta-Fraschini, Duesenberg, Pierce-Arrow, Daimler and Hudson and they brought very good prices, as high as and in some cases higher than they might have brought at competing auctions. The high end, classic, market was dynamic, and the interests of Barrett-Jackson’s clientele were broad and expanding to encompass it.

In 2013 The Salon Collection was back, now with 54 cars ranging from a 1914 Mercedes and 1919 Pierce-Arrow to a pair of 2009 Spykers, and of course George Barris’s “Batmobile #1”. 50 of them sold, bringing a total of $29,240,200, (27.9% of the 2013 total) a one-day, three hour performance than any auction anywhere would point to with pride.

Having identified a good thing, Barrett-Jackson expanded the Salon again in 2014, bringing it up to 75 lots including a Calliope, a Carousel, several customs, a boat-trailer-Hummer combination and the “Snake” v. “Mongoose” exhibition drag cars with their haulers. The docket ranged in age from a 1918 Packard Twin Six to a brand new 2013 Camaro CRC COPO. All but four sold, bringing a total of $32,027,600 (28.8% of the week’s total.) Fifteen lots were offered with reserves, 4 no-saled, a 73.3% sell-through on reserve lots.

This year there were 105 lots in the Salon, filling nearly half of the front preview structure. 84 sold for a total of $22,173,800 (16.9% of the week’s total.) The Salon Collection’s performance was somewhat disappointing, but realistic in light of the heavy interest and expansive promotion of the 140 cars from Ron Pratte’s collection that pre-empted the sequence of Salon offerings on the block to fit into Barrett-Jackson’s television schedule.

Aside from showing Barrett-Jackson’s willingness to tinker with its extraordinarily successful formula (actually there are several formulae that interact synergistically) the success of The Salon Collection at Barrett-Jackson’s signature week-long Scottsdale auction demonstrates how interest in collecting expands when collectors are presented with opportunities that challenge their established patterns.

If it shows nothing more than that, the Salon Collection’s success shows that collecting, and car collecting in particular, is not a static environment. The idea that young collectors hankering after the Countaches, Ford GTs and Enzos of their high school and college years will lose interest after satisfying that urge is narrow-minded. Once collecting interest is stimulated the appeal of a Fifties Chrysler, a Forties Woodie Wagon, a Thirties Packard, a Twenties Cadillac and even a Teens Pierce-Arrow becomes steadily more apparent.

It is recognized and encouraged in the Barrett-Jackson Salon Collection.

Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2015 – Auction Report

1977 Club Custom Golf Cart
Lot # 1 1977 Club Custom Golf Cart; S/N HG0303247856; Red, Arizona Cardinals/White vinyl; Unrestored original, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $6,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $7,150. No Reserve – Brinkmann four-burner grille, covered bed, alloy wheels, satellite stereo. – It is the wrong team for tailgating at this year’s Superbowl, but it’s in the right Zip Code. Clean, fresh and like new. – It’s maddening to the auctions when the first cars (or in this case ‘vehicles’) across the block come at the head of the lot order display. In Cardinals’ mad Phoenix this is a cool thing, and not unreasonable even for a week’s driving around the massive B-J site; a golf cart rental for seven days is darn near this much.
1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC Coupe
Lot # 1.1 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC Coupe; S/N 10702412020680; Brown/Beige leather; Visually maintained, largely original, 4+ condition; Hammered Sold at $4,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $4,400. No Reserve – Automatic, P/S, P/B, A/C, Becker Mexico cassette stereo, alloy wheels, Michelin radial tires, sliding sunroof. – Decent older repaint with edge chips. Tired, tom leather, faded dashtop. Aged body seals. Tired but sound. – New leather is a must (but a few sheepskins would cover up the tears and escaping padding, which is what usually is the case with cars like this.) With over 200K miles service is a valid concern. It would make a good airport car (‘Go ahead and steal it’) and it’s barely more than half the price of the golf cart.
1984 Cadillac Seville 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # 2 1984 Cadillac Seville 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N 1G6AS6987EE836802; White, White vinyl roof/Burgundy leather; Unrestored original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $4,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $4,950. No Reserve – Power everything, Alpine CD stereo, wide chrome wire wheels, gold line narrow whitewalls, dark tinted windows. – A sound and usable used car, only vaguely distasteful. The interior was remarkably good, fortunately without being velour. – The price is enough for what it is, a symbol of America’s 80’s divergence from good taste.
1981 AMC Concord DL Coupe
Lot # 2.1 1981 AMC Concord DL Coupe; S/N 1AMCA0652BK194125; Mustard, Tan vinyl roof/Tan velour; Unrestored original, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $4,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $4,950. No Reserve – Automatic, P/S, P/B, A/C, AM-FM, tilt column, padded steering wheel rim, bucket seats, power locks, wheel covers, narrow whitewalls. – Good original paint, chrome and interior appropriate to the 49,979 miles on the odometer. – This is, by any standard, a real find. In the 80’s even American Motors could make a 2-door with funny little quarter windows, a padded half roof, gaudy wheel covers and upholstery from a Victorian bawdy house and actually sell it. Its survival in such good condition is nothing short of a miracle. It must have made a statement in Sun City.
1978 Puma GT Coupe
Lot # 5 1978 Puma GT Coupe; S/N SP1022603; Yellow/Black vinyl; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $6,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $7,150. No Reserve – 1600 cc Air-cooled VW four, 4-speed, dual Weber carbs, Bridgestone Potenza tires, quad exhaust tips, VDO gauges, wood rim steering wheel, Sony cassette stereo, tinted windows, locking glove box. – Decent paint with some noticeable chips and scratches. Slightly dirty engine bay. Shabby interior with loose door panel screws and fairly worn overall look to it. Showing 99,000 miles but doesn’t look so bad overall. Much better than most 70s VW kit cars because Puma was a legit carmaker that sold complete examples in Brazil. Not a lot of them in the US, and few can claim to be this good. – This Puma’s auction history is like a pachinko game, bouncing from auction and buyer to buyer. It sold at Mecum Kissimmee a year ago for $5,750, then at B-J Palm Beach three months later for $6,270, then at Anaheim three months ago for $5,000. This result looks like a home run, before transport, entry fees and commissions are taken into account. Poor thing. May it someday find a VW-loving home.
1967 Ford Fairlane Ranchero Pickup
Lot # 6 1967 Ford Fairlane Ranchero Pickup; S/N 7K47C230223; White/Blue, Brown vinyl; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $5,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $6,050. No Reserve – 289/200hp, automatic, bench seat, hubcaps, Michelin radial tires. – Cheap, poorly masked repaint in refrigerator white. Tired interior and dashboard. Decent chrome. Dry, original underbody with overspray. cleaned up but not detailed engine. Good for Home Depot runs but not much else. – Cheap enough, for a utilitarian Fairlane Ranchero in seriously mediocre condition, but farther North than Scottsdale it would be riddled with rot, patch panels and Bondo. It is a realistic purchase at this price.
1967 BMW 2000 Sedan
Lot # 7.1 1967 BMW 2000 Sedan; S/N 1210127; Red/Black vinyl; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $8,200 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $9,020. No Reserve – 4-speed, steel wheels with hub caps, Minos tires, VDO gauges, Sparkomatic cassette stereo. – Dull paint and chrome. Very tired interior with loose trim. Shifter boot tied on with a shoelace. Shabby underneath, but no visible rust. Originally an automatic, but switched to a 4-speed. Rare 4-door car that will grab a lot more attention than a regular old 2002, but this one is about as driver quality as it gets. – A long 2002, or a Bavaria shortchanged by two cylinders, either way this is an unusual car that won’t go unnoticed at a BMW gathering. It’s perfect for a BMW fan with a fam, and is even for that market affordable. Many hours can be productively employed improving its presentation.
1966 Renault Caravelle Convertible
Lot # 25.1 1966 Renault Caravelle Convertible; S/N 191584; White/Black; Black top; Older restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $10,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $11,000. No Reserve – Original Engine and removable hardtop – This Renault is an older restoration. Engine is correct has been detailed. Vehicle was listed as hardtop but is a convertible with a removable hardtop. The soft-top is an older replacement and shows wear and tears on connecting corners. Paint shows bleed thru and has dings and chips all around the car with poor attempts at touch up. Brightwork is fair, bumpers are bright but side trim shows wear. Glass is good but rubber seals are cracked. Tires have been replaced but are of original style. Engine has been highly detailed and engine compartment is repainted. Undercarriage shows wear but is clean with no attention to detailing. Seats and dash have all been replaced and are good. This is an older restoration that has been cleaned up for a quick sale. – Renault made only one impression on the American market: a bad one. The Caravelle is a pretty little boulevardier, a grown-up Jolly, but damned by Renault’s abominable quality control. This Renault’s presentation mirrors its build quality and the consignor should have been happy to get this much for it.

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  1. Hi Rick,

    Great report again. Any comments on the dramatic devaluation of the Howard Hughes 1953 Buick Roadmaster? A 1.5 million dollar hit has to be some sort of record for any classic car at auction.


    1. Allan,
      Honestly, I have not a clue. I was — and remain — mystified.
      It was the headline car at Palm Beach when Ron Pratte bought it, heavily promoted and exhaustively documented.
      Ron is an aircraft guy, in fact he now spends far more time flying this and that than he did with his cars (which is why the cars are gone) so the Hughes connection may have been important for him … but there was an underbidder who couldn’t have had exactly the same motivation.
      The Roadmaster itself is a tired old beast, although eminently suitable for Preservation Class events where it would be a knockout.
      There was a movie around the time it was sold that increased awareness of Howard Hughes (although Tuckers don’t seem to have suffered much after that movie faded into distant memory.)
      Should the Hughes Roadmaster have brought what it did when Pratte bought it? Probably not, but it sure should have brought more than it did in Scottsdale. It belongs in the hangar with the Spruce Goose.
      And the precipitous decline in its value belongs in the collector car auction book of ignominious records.