Updated: Jan 20, 2019
Every year out west in the desert town of Scottsdale AZ, the collector car world explodes in a massive fire of auctions across the town. Thousands of cars converge from around the world to be put up for auction and it has become an event that the entire world of old car folks pay attention to. The first big events of the new year, the first opportunity to see what the market is up to, and a fantastic way for those in the cold part of the world to escape the snow and play together in the desert sun.
Many many years ago when the Barrett Jackson auctions were in their infancy, I went out to Scottsdale with my father to attend. While my father and his friends did their trading and such, I would wander around and watch the action and take photos with my Polaroid camera. This was when I was somewhere around 10 years old perhaps, so it is still within my memory. It was nothing like the "worlds fair" experience of today, it was just a simple tent in a dirt lot and I would guess maybe about a hundred cars or so.
I loved it then and I love it now. The auctioneer's ramble always brings me back to spending time with my dad at these shows and the smells of the exhaust fumes and the sights of all the cartoon character like players in the auction game are all a rich tapestry that fill my senses and memory banks. I look forward to it each year to go do what my father did. To "play cars" with the guys and to just soak in all the amazing machinery. Much like "car week" in Monterey, it is an absolute overload . bucket-list trip that I think everyone should attend at least once.
In recent years my involvement has increased in the game and I have been bringing cars to sell. In some cases these have been my own cars, in other cases they are cars of clients that I am helping with. The auction game is a bit scary for the uninitiated and it helps greatly to have someone that has been through it before to help you navigate the shaky terrain. The emotional rollercoaster of selling a car at auction is immeasurable. The first time I went through it as a seller it was a wild wild ride. All the weeks of excitement and dreaming, detailing and delivering, hoping and praying set the stage for that 5 minutes of sheer terror on the block. The bids start low and edge up a bit, then room seems deathly quiet and an eternity passes before the real players step in to make the final play. Its the final moments of the auction where the real action it it seems and of course it is not until the gavel falls that you know where you are going to land.
Fortunately my track record has been pretty good thanks to being aware of the market and having a good relationship with the auction houses. While some results have been stellar, others have fallen a bit flat, but even in the worst case scenarios, we have crossed the finish line victorious to some level. Its a gamble no matter what especially at the No Reserve sales, but the right car in the right room full of bidders will bring a solid price.
This year I have been very excited about going to Scottsdale and while I don't have any of my own tin in the game, I have helped three clients with getting their vehicles prepped and consigned and ready for the big day. I had my trip planned and room booked and was raring to go when fat stepped in and put an obstacle in front of me. A fun ride through the property with my daughter on our ATV resulted in disaster and sent yours truly to the emergency room with a broken leg. With surgery planned for two days before my departure date, it was obvious that my game plan had to change. As I write this mid week during the festivities, I have been following the auctions through online feeds and have been doing my best to handle any questions or issues with the cars remotely. Tomorrow is the big day for these three cars and their owners and I am gutted that I am not there by their side to ride the rollercoaster together. I will do a follow up report on the results when the sales have been done as well as an overall Scottsdale review. Next year though...I am there!!
"Happy Motoring" Randy