World’s Greatest Collector Car Auction

SOLD!!! For $8,800,000.

A steal at the price, this 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider, goes to the highest bidder at the RM Auctions at the Arizona Biltmore. It sets a new record at the 2014 auction week, Jan. 16 – 20. Many million $$ change hands, but Ferrari’s seem to be the darlings of the sale. At the Gooding & Co. Auction, a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet sells for $6.16 million. At Bonham’s, a 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Coupe goes for $3.19 million.

Over the course of six days, approximately 1,400 vehicles are sold at The Worlds Greatest Collector Car Auctions. “This was a huge year for Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale”, said Craig Jackson, Chairman and CEO of Barrett Jackson, as the auction christened the new Westworld facility. “We had the highest sales in the history of our company – exceeding $113 million.”

This is where the rubber hits the road. Over three hundred thousand people come to see, admire, bid, covet, stroke and photograph the mirror-like polished chrome, the gleaming fenders, the whitewall tires, the curve of the headlights, the custom leather interiors, the dreams and passions of their car-love. Men, and women, are mesmerized, moving from one tent to another at Russo and Steele, through the rows and rows of cars: Lamborghinis, the Dodge Hemi Challengers of the ‘60s, the Porsche’s, the Mercedes, the Jaguars and the Pontiacs. Dreams dance in their eyes, but passions are held in check. A more polite crowd of thousands would be hard to find. They give the right-of-way.

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World records are broken. A 1967 Corvette L88 2 door coupe sells for $3.85 million, and a 1957 Thunderbird E Convertible fetches $330,000. The classics also change owners. A 1929 Dusenberg SJ Lebaron Dual Cowl Phaeton, $1,430,000. A 1939 Alfa Romeo 6c 2500 Sport Touring $997,500. Cars I have never heard of: a 1932 Auburn with a Lalique crystal sculpture as a hood ornament; a 1938 Packard convertible; 1916 Stutz four passenger Bulldog Special; 1936 Delage. Cars I know personally: 1957 Nash Metropolitan (my first car); 1954 Buick Skylark (dad’s favorite). Memories through a lifetime of cars.

Along the midway, there are burgers, wings, fish tacos, any car accessories you ever imagined, model cars, clothing, live bands – it’s exhausting. And that’s the time to take a seat in the packed ballroom of the Arizona Biltmore, watch the stage and screens as the cars are rolled on to the podium, a floor video camera capturing their underside, and listen to the opera that is performed by the roster of auctioneers. Each auctioneer has his own style, patter, rhythm, and cadence. Some are tenors, some are baritones, and I don’t understand anything they say except the final magic word, SOLD!

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Stars love their cars. At RM, Gregory Peck’s 1961 Bentley S2 Continental Flying Spur $297,000. Sir Stirling Moss rides across the block in the third highest selling car, the 1955 Mercedez-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe. At Barrett-Jackson, Simon Cowell’s Bugatti Veyron, driven only 1,300 miles, includes a trip to France to visit Bugatti headquarters, benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The company consigns a custom Ford truck benefiting The Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan Foundation. A car is auctioned to benefit the NASCAR Foundation and a 1959 Cessna L-19E airplanea to support the Armed Forces Foundation. These unique cars, and others offered for charity, raise over $4.4 million. There is enough money to profit all.

I come away with a new appreciation of the automobile and its place in our social and economic life. “The car has become the carapace, the protective and aggressive shell, of urban and suburban man,” said Marshall McLuhan. He could have added that a hot car is a great way to attract a hot date.

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