Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction 2019: From Starfires to Supras

Odometer (Legend):  564,893

Our shuttle bus driver from the offsite parking lot to Barrett-Jackson this year must have also had a part-time job as a comedian.  There was a collection bucket for tips & donations at the front of the bus, as many buses have.  But the difference with this one was that it had a picture of a 1985 Ford Escort taped to it.  “Escort Fund,” he called it.

Over the radio he announced to all passengers, “If you see an Escort there today, go ahead and bid $24 on it for me.”  I don’t know if he’ll ever realize his dream of owning such a car (or of such a car ever being sold at Barrett-Jackson) but I admired his optimism and of course his appreciation for a 1980s piece of history.

The mecca for automotive auctions is a place where you can look in virtually any direction and see a six- or seven-figure automobile – soon to be up for grabs to the highest bidder.  While my pocketbook stayed firmly planted, well, in my pocket, that didn’t keep me from enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells (mmm, nothing like exhaust in the morning) of the 47th annual Barrett-Jackson collector car auction.

The 8-day event kicked off with a full roster of activities planned, and I went on opening day with a few friends to scout out the scene.  I had quite a few favorites, including an exceptionally clean 1950 Buick convertible – a car I’ve always wanted to own ever since finding vintage photographs of my late grandfather with his.  We perused the available inventory, both indoors & out, and enjoyed plenty of nostalgia.

While I love seeing a “tri-five (1955-57)” Chevrolet as much as the next person, they are exceedingly common at events like these.  My greater appreciation goes toward cars that are more obscure – something like the 1971 Ford Thunderbird.  Just look at the beak on this thing. And critics gave the 2009-2013 Acura design language a hard time!  That was tame in comparison.

Among the highlights for Barrett this year is the sale of the first production 2020 Toyota Supra, a car that for about 20 years has been absent from the marketplace.  Toyota’s newest iteration – the 5th generation – was unveiled by Craig Jackson at a press conference on Monday morning.  It will be powered by a 335-horsepower motor and share a chassis with the BMW Z4.  Audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions after a short introduction.  I raised my hand and asked if the car will have a manual transmission.  The answer, sadly, was a “no.”  And such is the sad case for so many of today’s modern performance cars.

The only two Hondas that I recall seeing – and I’m sure there were more – were both from model year 2001, and silver in color.  One was an exceptionally clean S2000 with fewer than 1,000 miles on it, and the other was VIN 00001 NSX (an automatic, sadly).

Low mileage is definitely the name of the game for most of the cars going up for auction.  It’s not uncommon to see vehicles on display with fewer than 100, even – such as a 2001 Plymouth Prowler with only 24 on it.

I got my fill of horsepower at this year’s Barrett-Jackson auction.  Maybe someday I’ll actually have the means to sit in the bidder area and throw a few bucks down on a Ford Escort for that shuttle driver.   Enjoy a few pics and a short video below!

Also, speaking of auctions, go take a look at my 1990 Accord EX up for grabs at 7 days, no reserve on Bring a Trailer!

A friend is also selling his 1995 Dodge Stealth which ends the same day.  Have a look at his auction.

Mercedes going all crazy with this 6×6 G.  Pretty ridiculous!

A few of the 50s and 60s cars in the salon showcase.

New cars had their chance in the spotlight too, including this BMW 12-cylinder, $160,000 sedan.

This Oldsmobile had my favorite color of the event.

The below sign made me laugh.  Yes, I reminisce about my Celebrity.  But I don’t ever expect to see one at Barrett-Jackson.  Although, a Ford Pinto recently sold there for about $18,000, so you never know.

Here’s the S2000.

Jack worshiping the Mercedes SL.  We all love these!

Gotta love a Nova SS.

17 Responses to “Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction 2019: From Starfires to Supras”

  1. Props to Arizona for the best classic car plates!
    Love your minty Accord, but surprised you bought an automatic!

    Curious what some of those Barrett-Jackson auction jewels sold for.

    • I’ll forward you an email with sales summary for auctioned cars to date (it’s only Thursday – goes until Saturday night!). Some high dollar stuff for sure.

  2. Looking good on all accounts — you AND the cars. See you in mere hours!

  3. Back in the day, Dad had a 1970 Dodge Challenger 440 R/T that he sold (the person that he sold it to wrapped it around a tree during a snowstorm- she was fine, but the car was a goner). We were watching Barrett-Jackson a few years ago, and an exact version of his car came up for auction and cleared over $100k. I thought he was going to cry. That’s the last time we watched it on TV together. If it comes on TV now he makes me change the channel. 😉

    Very cool report from the auction. I’m always surprised to see NSX automatics. I know that they were sold by Acura, but it still feels like a strange idea. My favorite car that I saw was the 2nd generation Corvette in the background of one of the shots in your video. Gorgeous machine… I wonder how much it fetched at auction? That Mercedes SL looked mint- it screams “80’s dictator (or drug baron) on summer holiday.” So cool!

    I checked out your Bring a Trailer post – the undercarriage of that Accord is AMAZING. And no rear wheel arch body rot! Whoever gets that car is lucky indeed!

    • It’s interesting to see what’s hot and what’s not, year over year. Some cars don’t meet their reserve price, while others far exceed them. I’m pretty pleased with the response my Accord has already received with < 1 day on the auction block.

  4. Always looks like lots of fun at Barrett-Jackson auctions. I agree on loving those 90s SLs. I’d go for the S2000 myself, though. I’ll keep an eye out for any ’85 Escorts around here. 😉

  5. There is so much money flowing through Barrett Jackson is hard to fathom. Very jealous you got to see the unveiling of the Supra – t’was a really cool unique opportunity to experience.

    • Agreed, that was a nice surprise. And (I learned this stat from Joe @ AZ Driver) I believe the reveal took place within about 80 minutes of the “real” reveal at Detroit Auto Show. So pretty timely. That was well coordinated by the media company.

  6. Wesley Adams (Midnight Mystery) Says:

    That s2000 is a cool find.

    The NSX came available with an automatic? Didn’t know that.

    • Yes it did! In a small percentage, and they usually aren’t as collectible. Shockingly, the silver 2000 I featured in this blog post ended up going for $90,000.

  7. Barrett-Jackson is such an amazing venue. I recall attending there sporadically over the decades when it was so much smaller and without competition. Today as you’re aware there are prt 6 or more competing auctions going on simultaneously.

    They’ve really transformed from just a mere car auction into collector car media circus. They generate so much revenue from both buyers and sellers, ticket sales, concession fees, cable rights, etc. It’s truly a spectacle now and so different and less accessible from their earlier days.

    While it’s great fun and entertaining to watch it’s also sad how it’s turned car collecting into a very lucrative investment strategy for the few while driving the cost up so unreachably high for the many… pity.

    On the positive side if you only want to browse, see rare beautiful cars and take in the carnival atmosphere there’s little else to compare…

    • Carnival atmosphere is for sure! It’s fun to wander for a few hours but I eventually get a little overwhelmed. Drop me a line this week and let me know how things are going with your appraisal quest and everything else! We need to catch up.

  8. Twenty years ago when my kids were young I asked my wife if I could get a sliver S2000 just like the one auctioned some day. She said “Sure, after the last kid graduates from high school”. Last spring exactly one day after the last kid graduated I bumped into one on craigslist, 13k miles, perfect condition but way, way out of town. Without telling her I bought it as a 30th anniversary present and we flew out, picked it up, and drove it back on a 2K mile road trip. Never sat in one, never ever drove one, heck, never even saw one in person before purchase. But it’s a Honda, and all we ever had were stick shift Honda cars because I am too cheap for an auto. What a car! Far beyond expectations, no regrets. 9000 rpm red line is like beautiful music or something. An S2000 is very sweet with a very naughty streak to it above 6000r’s. Wife loves driving it too, usually makes a wheeeee sound as she shifts from second to third a bit north of 8000 rpm. I’ll die before it is handed down or sold.

    • Awesome, thanks for sharing that experience! I have had similar purchase experiences (sight-unseen, never driven one before, etc) and haven’t had any regrets. Sounds like you’re getting your money’s worth out of that little roadster. Here’s to many more miles! Take it on another 2k mile road trip this summer!

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