49 Years & Counting: 2020 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction Breaks Records

Odometer (Legend):  572,435

Meet Craig Jackson:

Craig is kind of a big deal.  He’s currently in the driver’s seat of one of the world’s largest collector car auctions – launched in 1971 by his father, Russ.  Russ first partnered with fellow enthusiast Tom Barrett to sell a handful of automobiles in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Tom eventually retired and Russ passed away, leaving the reins to Craig 25 years ago in 1995.

Craig has since taken the auction to new heights, building it into a mecca that attracts 325,000 automobile enthusiasts annually to its signature and largest event held in Arizona each January.  Jackson has also expanded into other cities around the nation, keeping his team busy throughout the year and facilitating the sale of thousands of vehicles.

Craig is the true definition of a ‘car guy,’ and he wholeheartedly enjoys being part of the industry.  “I like three-pedal cars,” he said at a media event I attended in the days leading up to this year’s program in Scottsdale.  Craig commented on the ever-present questions like, “What should people buy now that will be collectible in X years?”

And the answer to that, of course, is anyone’s best guess, but he suggested that modern internal combustion-powered automobiles as we know them – and especially those equipped with clutch pedals – are positioned well for future appreciation because their days are numbered.  He’s stockpiled a few of his own in his elaborate personal collection.  And speaking of collections, there were a few noteworthy celeb-owned cars up on the docket, including some BMWs formerly owned by Paul Walker.

This year’s auction was the event’s 49th.  I attended in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.  And while I haven’t yet made a four-wheeled purchase, I’ve come away with a lot of souvenirs, memories, and friendships that have been 100% worth the price of admission.  My mom and I made the trek to the “Westworld” venue on Saturday, January 18th and feasted our eyes on the nearly 2,000 vehicles that were up for auction this year.

According to a post on Craig’s Instagram (below), a single gavel was used over the course of the 9-day event, but auctioneers went through six sound blocks.  The 2020 auction became the highest-grossing auction in Barrett-Jackson history, with over $141 million in no-reserve sales.  The intensity and energy in the venue is electrifying, with a vehicle being sold on average every two minutes.

The long-awaited mid-engine 2020 Chevy Corvette with VIN #001 brought $3 million for charity.  Other amazing cars that I enjoyed checking out were the 1963 Modena Spyder California from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as well as a replica Ford LTD station wagon as seen as the “family truckster” in the Chevy Chase movie “Vacation.”

Lexus auctioned a special edition LC500 convertible, the first of its kind for model year 2021.  It brought $2 million.

Mom and I were a little disappointed after searching the show grounds for Tent 7.  We were hunting for the “Shaggin’ Wagon,” a converted 2003 Ford Econoline van modified to look like the “MUTT CUTTS” vehicle from Dumb & Dumber.  It wasn’t parked where it was supposed to be, so we asked some of the nearby security personnel.  Evidently the van had been vandalized earlier in the week.  “Someone broke the nose off it,” we were told.  Shame!

And now begins Barrett-Jackson’s “Road to 50,” as Craig and his team will spend the next 12 months building up to the 2021 event as its 50th anniversary.  You can bet I’ll be there once again to soak it all in!

Below are a few more photos from my experience at Barrett-Jackson & overall weekend.

Red-carpet arrival at the house for mom’s visit

Brunch date in downtown Phoenix, in the red brick SUV.

Chris (visiting from Maryland) and I rolled around in the same vehicle.  Chris’ claim to fame, in fact, is that he’s driven every one of my vehicles, including the 1992 Integra sedan which sold just 2 days after he left town.

Bueller?  Bueller?  You might recognize this car from a certain movie.

Visitors from Utah feasting their eyes on the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the auction.

A celebrity to me – none other than Mr. Peter Cunningham, current President of the NSX Club of America.

And special thanks to my friend Jonathan Klinger who is a VP at Hagerty, who gave me these awesome socks.

They say:  Driving is good for the sole.

And also thanks to Aaron Cook from Barrett-Jackson’s public relations agency, TimePiece.

Mom and I didn’t score any purchases at the auction, but we each came home with a chunk of metal from the following morning’s rock & roll half-marathon in Tempe.

Finally, join me in congratulating my friend Matt on his 200,000th mile in his 2002 Nissan!  I captured the occasion on video from his back seat.

Thanks for reading & watching, as always!

16 Responses to “49 Years & Counting: 2020 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction Breaks Records”

  1. sixspeedmiata Says:

    I thought that red carpet was for me and Betsie’s arrival!

  2. Did you put in a bid for that Lexus LC500 convertible? 😉

  3. Six sound blocks? I didn’t even think it would be like a courtroom with a gavel that smacks down on the block with the exclamation of “SOLD!” That’s interesting! I wonder what their sound block budget is each year. So of course this DrivetoFive post resonates with me because I WAS THERE. I was able to see, hear, feel, and taste so much of what you described. And 2021, we’re coming for you in about 51 more weeks! 🙂

  4. First, congratulations to your friend Matt for rolling 200k in his Maxima. Very, very cool! (My Dad had a 2002 SE… he still talks fondly of that car).

    Going to Barrett-Jackson is definitely on my bucket list. Did you see any Hondas or Acuras rolling across the auction block?

  5. What a stellar auction — so many iconic cars! Of course my favorite is the one from one of the funniest movies ever.

  6. That’s pretty cool to have met Craig Jackson…. I would be very curious to know whats in his private collection.

    • In researching Craig, I learned that he has quite the collection (and garage). In fact he has a feature in his garage called the “rotunda” which has a round platform in the middle and a ceiling design that’s supposed to resemble a wheel. Go figure! One day I’ll have to schmooze my way into a visit.

  7. Very cool meeting Craig Jackson and lots of cool rides there. Fave has to be the Wagon Queen Family Truckster complete with the tagging. lol. Congrats to Matt on the 200k Maxima milestone! Love that generation. The RL is looking great with the PDR and other repairs you did. Very nice work!

    • Thanks Jason! I know, the family truckster did not disappoint! Though, my curiosity was killing me and I wanted to rip the tarp off the “body” strapped to the rooftop and see what kind of mannequin they were using, haha.

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