By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
By the time you read this on Monday morning, Scottsdale will have hosted an extravaganza known as the Barrett-Jackson car auction. In case you aren’t familiar with it, B-J is the largest car auction company in the world and each January they host one of their premier events in Arizona. The auction attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators, or “motorheads” as they are known. You read that right – hundreds of thousands. Most people have some passing interest in the cars up for auction (this year there were over 1850 special cars) but most people I know go to people watch. There is perhaps no finer place to see a cross-section of high rollers and wannbe high rollers than Barrett-Jackson. We have not attended the auction for several years, being neither car aficionados or in need of seeing blondes with boob jobs, but the atmosphere is the same, year in and year out.
This year there were several celebrity cars up for sale. David Spade, the comedian, sold his 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle. Gosh, I remember when one of the popular boys at school got a Chevelle and rumor has it that the back seat is not all that comfortable. That said, unlike the average teenage boy, I don’t think the people bidding on it are contemplating spending much time back there. The auction also featured a 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit that was once the property of Burt Reynolds. Not only can you get a famous car, but they are throwing in an autographed copy of the late actor’s autobiography. What a deal! The front man for the rock band Poison, Bret Michaels, appeared to sell his 2007 Bentley Continental GT. Just as with Reynold’s car, there is a gift with purchase – a custom “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” guitar autographed by Michaels. And rap star Pitbull made an appearance to oversee the auction of his 2022 Karma GS-6 EV 305 Edition. Whatever that is. Obviously, I am not a motorhead.
As I mentioned, most people I know go to people watch. There are more than three dozen bars and restaurants at the venue, and they are all packed. It’s a little like Vegas, where there are VIP suites and special bidder’s areas, but you can still run into the rich and famous out on the floor. One of the most fun activities is watching the women who accompany the high rollers to the auction. They wear so much jewelry and shiny clothing that you can see them from Mars. Sometimes the ratio of jewelry to clothing tips well into the jewelry side of the ledger. There is so much bleach and silicone in the building I’m surprised it isn’t declared a hazmat area. Still, it makes for fun watching.
One of the benefits of the auction is the money donated to charity. Each year Barrett-Jackson gives the profits from several of its car sales to local charities. Since its inception at a dirt lot in Scottsdale 50 years ago, the company has donated more than $133 million to local and national charities. So, even if you aren’t a motorhead, you can appreciate their gesture. If you’re anywhere close to Scottsdale next January, you might want to give the Barrett-Jackson event a try. I promise it will open up a whole world of beautiful cars, beautiful people and, who knows, maybe a gift with purchase!