Car Lovers: Start Your Engines for Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale ‘09

The gavel is down: Everyone is SOLD! on Barrett-Jackson.

The 38th annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction returns to the big white tent at WestWorld in north Scottsdale, Jan. 11–18, with a docket of collector cars for all budgets, hundreds of automobilia vendors as well as events for all family members. Bidders from the 50 states and a dozen countries are expected as well as some 300 credentialed media outlets and more than a quarter million paying guests.

Leading the hundreds of vehicles scheduled to cross the famous B-J blocks is the 1947 Steyr-Allard racer owned and raced by Sydney Allard; the very first Ford Thunderbird produced; a 1929 Ford-power Tri-motor that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor; five Yenko’s, including Don Yenko’s last racer; a 1970 NASCAR Plymouth Road Runner Superbird tribute car with 800 horsepower to be sold for charity; two rockin’ ’56 Chevy’s from the Eddie Van Halen Collection; two pairs of first- and second-generation ZR1 Corvettes; a two-time NASCAR-winning Monte Carlo driven by Jeff Gordon; and a 2008 Chevy Tahoe with a hood signed by 220 Major League Baseball players. Even Robosaurus is returning for a sizzling encore performance.

“We’re more than just ‘The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions™,’ ” says owner and CEO Craig Jackson. “We’re a lavish lifestyle experience that everyone will enjoy — from the passionate collector to someone who just wants to participate in the global event we have become.” Craig’s father, Russ, and business partner Tom Barrett began the event in 1971; the Scottsdale-based Barrett-Jackson also holds annual auctions in Palm Beach, Fla. and Las Vegas, Nev. Today, Craig estimates the Scottsdale event provides about $100 million of direct economic impact for the city.

Covered by nearly 40 live hours of SPEED Channel, Barrett-Jackson ‘09 will auction all vehicles at No Reserve — ensuring that every vehicle that comes up for sale will be sold. “We believe that only by agreeing to sell all cars can we provide an open and market-driven environment for buyer and seller,” Craig says. “For us, this is the only true, the only transparent way to auction — and provides the best barometer for the state of collector car market for everyone.”

A snapshot of that market is very clear, Craig says. For one, it’s still strong, with many first-time bidders participating. The recent Las Vegas auction, for example, attracted more new bidders (52 percent) than established ones. “We’re encouraged by the trend of new participants,” he says. “Because of this, we will have a broad range of vehicles, from quality ‘first-time’ buys to signature highline vehicles.”

Perhaps because of these new bidders, and the economy, Craig expects even more excitement at the block, with smaller bid increments from a more diverse gallery — a characteristic he noticed at the Las Vegas event. “We may have just a few less cars, but we expect active bidding that may take a little longer to reach a sale but will provide just that much more entertainment for everyone.”

This past year, Jackson and company held two focus groups, one in Scottsdale and one in Palm Beach to ensure that his participants, sellers and buyers, were receiving the best events possible. “We found, among many things, that cars ranked only second to family for our people,” Craig explains. “This is a passion and a lifestyle for them. It offers camaraderie, euphoria and joy. So even in this challenging economy, car collecting is still a very strong part of their lives.”

The auction starts Saturday evening, Jan. 10, with the Childhelp Gala, with all proceeds benefiting the charity, which helps abused, neglected and at-risk children, and continues Sunday with Family Value Day — a Disney-inspired day designed just for the children. Monday is Preview Day, an opportunity to see the cars, followed by the auction itself, Tuesday through Sunday, the 18th. For trendy fashion shows and band performances throughout the weeklong event, The Garage opens Thursday, Jan. 15.

The focus, as always, are the vehicles, both on the ground and in the air.

Built in 1947, the marquee Allard, driven by Allard himself, competed in the British Hill Climb Championship for five years, finishing first in 1949, second in 1950 and third in 1951 and held records at various hill climb courses and sprint events.

“This is a car with a fantastic pedigree that can be enjoyed at a Concours or historic racing event,” says Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson and a long-time car aficionado. Allard, he explains, is considered the first to combine a British chassis with an American or German V8 to create a car with outstanding reliability and power-to-weight ratio. Allard dropped in an Austrian air-cooled engine used in WWII armored cars; his team increased the compression ratio to 12:1 to run on methanol, added a Scintilla Vertex magneto and eight motorcycle carburetors. The result was a light 1,600-pound racer outputting 150 brake horsepower. The vehicle has been spectacularly restored — six painstaking years — to its 1949 Hill Climb championship-winning configuration.

In the air, the 1929 Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor started as a passenger plane out of Spokane, Wash., was later sold to an air service out of Honolulu, where it was strafed on Dec. 7, 1941. Back to the mainland in 1946, it was leased by Trans World Airlines for its 1949 20th Anniversary celebration, then became an agricultural sprayer in Idaho and one of the pioneer forest-fire-fighting air tankers. Since 1969, the plane has been privately owned, hangared and museum displayed. The no-concession, no-compromise restoration includes a new interior as well as tires that have been meticulously matched to the correct profile and tread pattern.

For car and baseball-memorabilia lovers, the Tahoe will be auctioned Jan. 16, with a portion of the proceeds donated to nonprofit youth baseball programs nationwide. Featuring Rawlings baseball glove leather seats and steering wheel and baseball-bat ash wood dashboard, the vehicle includes an authenticated second hood signed by Major League Baseball stars such as Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, Mariano Rivera, Carlos Zambrano, Chipper Jones, National League Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum as well as Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Tom Seaver, Whitey Ford and others. This year’s lone Hall of Fame inductee, Goose Gossage, collected the signatures in trips to various MLB cities as well as the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

“We’re excited about this historic piece of sports and automotive memorabilia, especially since proceeds from the sale will help encourage kids to get out of the stands and into the game,” Steve says.

The first production T-Bird, produced at the Michigan factory Sept. 9, 1954, this 3,250-pound classic is equipped with the 292 “Y” block, Fordomatic transmission, power steering, power windows and seats. From 1966 to 1969, car buff George Watts meticulously restored the “original” to original. The most valuable and well known bird in existence, it’s appeared in pictures with Carroll Shelby, Barbara Streisand and Jay Leno.

“No wonder Jay Leno says, ‘This is my Superbowl,’” Craig says. “With vehicles like our line-up for Scottsdale, it’s clear that Barrett-Jackson remains the premier event in the world for those whose passion is cars, cars, cars — and an occasional Robosaurus.”

Barrett-Jackson,, 480.421.6694