Barrett-Jackson offers an enhanced and safe live auction
By Kamala Kirk
One of the world’s leading auction houses for classic and one-of-a-kind cars, Barrett-Jackson hosts annual auctions and lifestyle events that draw nearly half a million people. Since its founding in 1971, the company has continued to expand and innovate, becoming the first collector car auction to offer live internet and television coverage.
The Scottsdale 2021 auction is set for Saturday, January 16, to Saturday, January 23, at WestWorld of Scottsdale. Organizers promise an enhanced and safe experience that is in accordance with CDC guidelines while retaining the excitement and quality of Barrett-Jackson events. One of the elements that hasn’t changed is the extensive selection of rare, unique and high-end cars that will be available on the auction block.
“Last year we sold so many of the Ford GTs,” says Craig Jackson, Barrett-Jackson CEO.
“We sold a 2018 Ford GT at the October auction for $1.2 million and hit a world record. We have similar models that will be at our upcoming auction, including a 2018 Heritage Edition with less than 20 miles on it and a 2017 with less than 80 miles. We’re going to have a diverse docket of vehicles, from an LS6 Chevelle to a Ram Air convertible, which is ultra rare. Our October auction was hugely successful, and we sold 100% of the cars, setting more than 20 world records. We’ve got a lot of great cars lined up for our January auction as well.”
When COVID-19 hit, Barrett-Jackson immediately pivoted to online auction formats, which replaced its Palm Beach and Northeast auctions in May and July 2020.
This past October, the company celebrated its return to live events by hosting its first fall auction at WestWorld of Scottsdale. Evolving from previous live auctions, the event featured wider spaces that ensured proper social distancing measures were followed, plexiglass dividers to maintain safe barriers between guests, and touchless transactions. Attendance was also limited, temperature checks were conducted, and everyone wore masks in accordance with CDC guidelines.
“We’ve never done a fall auction before. We always just did the big annual event in Scottsdale,” Jackson says.
“Our October event was a hybrid between a regular Barrett-Jackson auction combined with enhanced safety protocols. The city also upgraded the venue with ion generators in all the A/C units to pump fresh, clean air throughout the event. We received a lot of accolades from people who saw how seriously we are taking this. Our goal is to bring back live events in the safest manner possible.”
The restaurant and hospitality industries have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, so Barrett-Jackson decided to hold the fall auction in order to help struggling local businesses make up lost revenue.
“A lot of these businesses make a large portion of their income during the spring and summer, when there are a lot of visitors to the area,” Jackson says.
“We wanted to help them, and we want to do the same thing in January for our next auction. Our goal is to take care of all of our customers and bring business back to the area. We’re one of the signature events in Scottsdale, and we need to set an example for others while entertaining people in a safe manner. Everybody wants to get back to some sort of normalcy, and if you follow all the proper protocols, it can be done.”
Barrett-Jackson held its first auction in 1972 next to the Safari Hotel in Downtown Scottsdale. Over the years, it has expanded and become the company’s signature event. Now, Barrett-Jackson produces auctions in Palm Beach, Connecticut and Las Vegas and has multiple TV partnerships. Jackson is also planning a special celebration in 2022 in honor of the company’s 50-year anniversary.
“We were the first car auction company to be on live television,” Jackson says.
“When I took over the company 25 years ago, I sent out questionnaires to all my customers to learn more about what they wanted, and some people wrote me long letters. We’ve listened, and as a result, Barrett-Jackson has evolved into a lifestyle. People equate quality and entertainment with Barrett-Jackson. It’s a bucket list event for anybody that loves collector cars.”
Another important aspect of Barrett-Jackson events is the company’s commitment to giving back. To date, it has raised more than $127 million for various charities; and the special vehicles are donated and sold, with 100% of the proceeds going to a charity chosen by the donor of the car. Previous recipients include the Boys & Girls Club of America, the Detroit Children’s Fund, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona, Arizona Animal Welfare League, and many others.
“I love raising money up on the auction block for the charities,” Jackson says. “It’s also a lot of fun having different celebrities and high-profile individuals participate in our events and support various organizations and causes.”
One year, Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler donated his 2012 Hennessey Venom GT Spyder, which sold for $800,000 with all proceeds going to his charity Janie’s Fund, an organization that offers assistance to girls who have been abused and neglected.
Previously, Simon Cowell donated his 1977 Ford Bronco Custom SUV and 2009 Bentley Azure, while Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker donated three vehicles from his personal collection, including a custom 1960 Cadillac. Other celebrity vehicles that have also made appearances on the Scottsdale auction block include music legend Johnny Cash’s 2001 Lincoln Town Car Cartier L, Dean Martin’s 1980 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible and Howard Hughes’ 1954 Chrysler New Yorker.
Barrett-Jackson’s online auctions have been successful, providing an opportunity for those who are unable to attend in person to be a part of the experience and bid on cars. Jackson says the online format has brought in buyers from around the world, with one of the charity cars purchased by someone in Australia.
“We’ve enhanced our new online bidding platform, which is giving more people an opportunity to participate,” Jackson says.
“We plan to offer more in the future, in addition to our live auctions. The other thing we’ve really enhanced is our stream, which is broadcast quality. It’s the same components that make up the television broadcast but are put together a little bit differently for a stream.”
After the Scottsdale auction in January, Barrett-Jackson is hosting the Palm Beach Auction from April 8 to April 10 at the South Florida Fairgrounds. Also set to debut is Barrett-Jackson Live, special TV programming on FYI and the History Channel, which will be distributed globally by A+E International. Jackson looks forward to providing attendees with the fun and entertainment that they expect from a typical event paired with all required safety protocols. He wants to continue to be a good steward while looking after his employees and customers in the best manner possible, in addition to running the business he remains passionate about after all these years.
“I’m not the kind of guy who sits in a rocking chair after he retires,” Jackson says.
“They said if you choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. I love what I do; it’s my hobby and my business. I’m excited for the future of our company. We moved to new headquarters and we’ve built a full studio where we plan on producing more television and web content. What we practice at our corporate facility is what we practice at our live events. I want to keep our team and customers as safe as possible while getting back to business and enjoying a hobby. People need something to look forward to, and they miss their friends. Even if people can’t get close and hug each other for a while, at least with our events they get to be around their friends in a safe manner. At Barrett-Jackson, we’re a family.”
Various times Saturday, January 16,
to Saturday, January 23
WestWorld of Scottsdale,
16601 N. Pima Road
Tickets start at $12 for children; $18
for seniors, military and students;
and $25 adults
For more information, visit
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