Visit to the 2017 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction

Odometer (Legend):  550,387


Odometer (ILX):  190,802


“You barely put a dent in that.”


That’s not a comment anyone wants to hear when they’re walking past an $800,000 supercar like music legend Steven Tyler’s Hennessey Venom, or a 1 of 1 Pontiac Kammback Trans Am, or a showroom fresh 47-year-old Chevy pickup with 400 original miles on it.

Fortunately, my friend Chris wasn’t talking about denting a car.  He was talking about putting a dent in this gigantic footlong jalapeño & cheddar sausage I picked up from one of the vendors at Saturday’s 46th annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction.


You’ve never quite seen an automotive buffet like the one in Scottsdale, Arizona this past week.  Over an 8-day period, some 1,700 collector cars found new homes in one of the best-known and widely-viewed auctions in the country.  For anyone with a hankering for a slice or two of literature and automobilia, that’s on the menu too.  Since 1989, Scottsdale’s venue for the Barrett-Jackson auction has been Westworld, not far from my home.  My friend Chris flew in from Baltimore to see what all the sights, sounds, and tastes had to offer.  We didn’t go home hungry.


Chris and I attended the auction on Saturday morning.  Weather in the Phoenix area had finally broken from a 4-day stretch of rain – much to the relief, I’m sure, of the many people who had their prized, gleaming garage queens out in Westworld’s staging areas for display prior to being auctioned.  The ILX got stashed several miles away in the offsite parking lot and we caught a shuttle bus to the epicenter of activity.


It was a star-studded afternoon:  Justin Bieber (Ferrari 458), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Chevelle), and Burt Reynolds (Trans Am) each took the mic at different times during the day to hawk their rides.  Chris and I made the rounds in both the interior and exterior staging areas.  High-dollar “Salon” cars had premium parking in the enclosed areas nearest the auction block.  Other cars – not quite as elite but still well out of my price range – resided in the external grounds shaded by tents.


There didn’t seem to be much rhyme nor reason as to how the parking was arranged.  It wasn’t uncommon to see a Volkswagen Beetle parked next to a Hummer, parked next to a 1962 Chrysler.  But that’s what kept it interesting.  There was something for everyone.  And new this year, there was a live video stream on B-J’s website so that the “auction action” could be viewed by car enthusiasts both near and far.  In all, the week+ long festivities wrapped up with $102 million in sales, with the auction being attended by 320,000 people in person.


Now the automotive buffet got even more interesting.  My friend Jonathan Klinger from Hagerty called and offered a couple of tickets to skybox #11 in the auction hall – an exclusive opportunity to rub shoulders with the cast & crew from Velocity TV channel.  Not to mention, snacks and drinks were on the house, and the view from high above the show floor couldn’t have been better.  I’ve now been spoiled with skybox access twice, since last year I attended in Acura’s skybox when the 2017 NSX VIN 001 was auctioned off for $1.2 million.


Barrett-Jackson truly was a feast for all the senses.  Now if only I could have brought home some take-out.  In the form of a shiny new toy, of course.  Many thanks to the organizers of Barrett-Jackson for admitting me with a media credential this year!

Here’s a short video I captured of Bieber’s Ferrari on stage with a few of his comments at the end.

Bus ride from the “offsite purple lot” where we’d parked the ILX, several miles away.


Media creds!


This NSX used to be Berlina Black.  It’s a custom build by Clarion car audio.


The “Salon” area, including Justin Bieber’s matte-blue-wrapped Ferrari in the foreground.


This 1958 Chevy Corvette was named “Eye Candy.”


30-year-old Buick GNX with only 1,524 miles on it.


I always think of Skittles candy when I see a color like this McLaren was wearing.


“Breathing New Life Into a Legend”


Loved this “barn find” Shelby Cobra GT 350.  They didn’t even run it through the coin-op wash!



The “tri-five” (55, 56, 57) Chevy Bel Airs are always a hit.


I loved the design on the dashboard of this 1962 Chrysler Imperial.


Only 246 miles on this Pontiac!  Talk about fresh.


Quick meet-up with RealTime racing legend Peter Cunningham.


This pair of 1970 Chevy pickups came from a barn in Alberta, Canada.  Each one has fewer than 1,000 miles on it.


What’s not to love about a bright red 1990 Lotus Esprit?


Outside tent area with vendors and more cars


Sing it with me.  “Apple bottom jeans….”


Custom car builder Dave Kindig in the background at the Velocity TV skybox.


Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on stage talking about his Chevelle.


“Chasing Classic Cars” host Wayne Carini.


Thanks for coming along!

19 Responses to “Visit to the 2017 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction”

  1. I gotta check that out next year!

    • Yeah you definitely do! General admission is a whopping $75 on Saturday but some of the other days are less expensive. Worth the price to be able to see some hot cars and potentially bump into a movie star.

  2. I’ll try the sausage next year…if I don’t find a good rack of ribs.

  3. What an event. One of the these years I really must go and see what the fuss is all about.

  4. So many droll-worthy cars! The GNX alone would have been worth the trip for me. Growing up, a friend’s father had a Grand National- that thing was a beast.

    Not sure about wrapping a Ferrari. It looks like someone covered it with blue Saran Wrap. Kids these days with their plastidip and their wrap. Maybe I’m just getting old and bitter. Now get off my lawn…

    • Haha! Your lawn is so immaculate. Yeah, I should check the results to see what that GNX ended up going for. But seriously, 1,500 miles on a 30 year old car! That’s just insanity. I’d buy the thing, make sure maintenance is up to date, then road trip it across the country to enjoy it! Happy Friday, Tim!

    • I think $107,000

    • I’m with you .. what a car!! There was a G-body that sold for 160+ a couple of years back. So very much money to spend on a car I might be afraid to drive!

  5. I mean “drool-worthy.” Ah, the joys of autocorrect.

    • Haha, I still read it correctly even though it appears there was a typo. We live in a world where the occasional slip-up is acceptable. Even when you work in education 🙂

  6. Rubbing shoulders with some of the most notable names in automotive television must make a good talking point when you get back to work! Loving that green McLaren too. Think that’s the colour I’d pick too!

    • Sometimes I choose NOT to talk about my automotive adventures too much at work – I don’t want them to think I’m leaving the company any time soon to pursue automotive full time! I need that paycheck! Haha. Have a great weekend.

  7. Now that it’s officially over (and 17 years since I attended a BJ auction) is the offsite parking still consist of unpaved dirt lots and way too far away?

    I vividly recall hiring a bicycle rickshaw to ferry us back and forth from the lots. And when departing we marched forever through the mud eventually finding my 89 SE-i completely unrecognizable…

    I think Sigourney Weaver said it best in Avatar: “They’re just pissing on us without even giving us the courtesy of calling it rain.” 😩

    Ironic isn’t it. You pay so much to attend so you can see pristine collector cars only to be relegated to the worst possible place to park.

    Hopefully they’ve paved the lots by now?

    • Hy, you are absolutely right and for this very reason, I drove my “beater” ILX to the auction. The parking lot we ended up in was about a 10 minute shuttle bus ride away, in a dirt lot that had been sprayed down by a tanker truck, turning it into mud. My car had a nice layer of dust and mud on it by the time I got home. Although, I didn’t get a chance to be transported by a bicycle rickshaw so clearly your experience was better than mine!

  8. dan griffiths Says:


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