The cars line up as the crowd watches. Lights flash from the margins. Beautiful people everywhere. Sounds like another Hollyweird awards ceremony? Nah – it’s January in Scottsdale, Arizona, as Barrett-Jackson holds its annual auction of all auctions.
Now in its 45th year, Barrett-Jackson has commanded the attention of the automotive world with its vast selection of cars and trucks for every purse and purpose, from bespoke 1930s chariots and coach-built European luxury cars, to hot rods and customs, and 1950s cruisers and muscle cars.
But here’s the beauty of Barrett-Jackson—it’s not reserved for those who turn up their collective noses at anything that doesn’t resemble the above vehicles. Walk the aisles and you may find a perfectly preserved 1962 Chrysler Newport four-door sedan (with floor-mounted three-speed shifter, no less). A random glance may catch a cute 1970s import that seemingly has managed to survive the ravages of rust. Or maybe you’ll find a funky hero car from a long-forgotten movie— the special interest and weird are here as well.
But beyond the glitz and glamor from what you have seen on TV (and, perhaps, from have visited Scottsdale), it’s really about the cars. For all the laments about the common man being priced out of the hobby, the bread and butter of Barrett-Jackson are vehicles that are affordable to millions of people—whether the price will be affordable when the hammer goes down is a different story.
There has been a shift in recent years as Generation Xers have hit 50 years old: 1980s vehicles have increased in demand. Just like the Baby Boomers desire the cars from their youth (with the benefit of horsepower in plenty of cases), Gen Xers have begun to yearn for the vehicles they had (or wanted to have) when they were in their teens and 20s – heck, reproduction parts for Monte Carlo SSs are already available. Over the next few years, you should see more of these vehicles.
Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction has grown to encompass nine days – including two weekends – of automobiles and automobilia. The actual car Collector Car Auction starts Tuesday, January 26, 2016, but HOT ROD visited Barrett-Jackson before all the action so we could bring it to you first.
Take a look at the gallery for a cavalcade of cars that run the gamut.
This story originally appeared in Hot Rod.