Barrett-Jackson, WestWorld, Scottsdale, Arizona, January 23-31, 2016
Using the word ‘usual’ about Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction is never appropriate.
Craig Jackson and his staff always succeed in coming up with new, wonderful attractions, events, demonstrations and even a large docket of vehicles to cross the block. This year’s Barrett-Jackson ran nine days, from Saturday the 23rd of January through Sunday the 31st.
The first two were exhibition days open to the public at reduced prices. Monday saw a full day of Automobilia on the block. Vehicles began their parade on Tuesday and went right through the following Sunday in a steady stream that challenged onlookers’ stamina.
The docket itself was down from last year’s amazing offering of 1,628 vehicles to a more sensible 1,490, a number in line with but still ahead of 2014’s 1,403. The $102,423,750 sale total similarly was down from the 2015 record (bolstered in large degree by Ron Pratte’s collection) of nearly $131 million. The average transaction also was down, but the median was 6.1% higher than last year as the caliber of the vehicles offered skewed slightly better. 99.5% of the vehicles offered were sold, a performance that is consistent with the prior four years since Barrett-Jackson began taking a few high end cars in the Salon section with reserves.
The Barrett-Jackson Automobilia auction, whose numbers aren’t included here, has gone for an auction day morning diversion to warm up the crowd to a full-blown production taking up all day Monday and adding to its total on each of the following auction days. The prices are in many cases eye-opening and the total reaches close to, if not over, eight figures. Automobilia’s increasing contribution is part of the evolving Barrett-Jackson crowd pleasing format.
All the numbers are below, but what the numbers don’t tell is the ever-expanding consumer displays by vendors and sponsors that fill acres of the covered display area and even more acres outside. And nothing is inexpensive, least of all entry to Barrett-Jackson which on Saturday lightened day-trippers’ pockets by $75 a head. There is plenty for the derided ‘1%’, but most of the product and service offerings are affordable and accessible to those of moderate means, like the median of $47,850 for the cars crossing the Barrett-Jackson block.
It’s a celebration of consumption that makes a mockery of politicians’ harping on a ‘hallowed out middle class.’ Silicon Valley millionaires aren’t buying the spangled clothing, video games, ski boats, telescoping flag poles and massaging lounge chairs on display, or rising to the appeal of the huge Ford, Chevrolet and Mopar new car exhibits. Investment advisors and gold coin vendors aren’t trolling the crowd expecting to find eight- and nine-figure clients.
But enough socio-political pondering.
There were some great cars at WestWorld, and even more good ones. The bidders kept their wits about them (for the most part) paying honest prices for sound cars and turning up their noses at those that didn’t measure up. Mid- to high-$40,000 cars is Barrett-Jackson’s sweet spot, the same as it is for the collector car market as a whole, a consignment strategy that Craig Jackson, Steve Davis, Gary Bennett and the Barrett-Jackson crew have developed to a high art form.
Here are the numbers:
Cars Offered / Sold
1490 / 1482
1628 / 1606
1403 / 1399
1312 / 1308
On-site observations by the editor, Andrew Newton, Greg Ingold, Tim Weadock and Chris Winroth; final edits and comments are the responsibility of the editor.