By Steve Magnante
Faithful Redline readers will recognize my name as a regular contributor to this esteemed site devoted to all things wonderful and Dodge. But to newcomers, my name is Steve Magnante and I’m also a regular on-stage vehicle commentator at the world-famous Barrett-Jackson collector car auctions on Fox Sports 1 (formerly Speed).
Barrett-Jackson produces four auctions annually, but the Scottsdale, Arizona, show is by far the greatest, and the recent January event was no disappointment, with $113 million generated by the sale of nearly 1, 400 collector vehicles of virtually every description. The top-selling Chrysler family product was the 1954 Plymouth Belmont experimental show car, which hammered for a stunning $1, 320, 000 (including buyer’s commission), making it the eighth costliest purchase of the event. The next highest Chrysler family collectible was another Plymouth, a 1970 HEMI® Superbird for $550, 000 (including buyer’s commission). Got a Dodge in your garage? Keep it nice—you never know.
Although top-tier classics and factory show cars generate the seven-figure sales, the meat and potatoes of every Barrett-Jackson event are the muscle cars. Hundreds of vintage Chargers, Challengers, Darts, Coronet R/Ts, Road Runners, GTXs and ’Cudas cross the block every year and make up a giant portion of every sale’s final tally. At Scottsdale, we connected with Canadian Dodge enthusiast Jack O’Toole, who brought two 1970 Challengers to sell.
I left Jack and his pristine T/A to inspect more cars but planted a seed in the Albertan’s mind. Sure enough, a day later Jack found a skinny kid and paid him a few bucks to slink beneath the rocker where he confirmed the block was indeed a TA unit. Jack had him snap a digital picture of the proof and quickly went to the Barrett-Jackson consignor office to update the vehicle description with the good news. It was Saturday afternoon.
Jack’s screaming yellow T/A crossed the block Tuesday evening, January 14, 2014. Despite being the first day of the auction, the room was well-stocked with potential bidders from all over the world. Jack tells us: “You get a call that it’s time to bring the car from the display tent up into the pre-staging lanes. At this point there is about an hour left and your excitement level really begins to rise. Then car by car you move on to the actual staging lanes with about 10 other cars. This is where potential bidders make last-minute inspections and you really need to be there to answer any and all questions. Before you know it, you’re next in line and rolling up onto the ramp. Those last 100 feet from the ramp to the block are your final minutes of ownership. As you hand the keys to the Barrett-Jackson driver, it is emotional. The car isn’t yours anymore and there’s nothing you can do to reverse it.”
The bidding started at $20, 000 and quickly crept to $50, 000 in two- to five-thousand-dollar increments. The crowd was really responding to its factory-correct nose-down stance, imposing fiberglass hood, side-exit exhaust and striking yellow and black colors. As the auctioneer paused for a moment to remind the crowd of the car’s correct TA block, bidding picked up again and finally topped out at an even $60, 000. SOLD! Jack tells us he was happy with the result (but not so much with the $82, 000 his equally pristine restored ’70 HEMI Challenger brought—he was hoping for a figure closer to “the ton, ” auction-speak for $100, 000).
“I think the T/A’s $60K selling price was a little bit soft, and maybe due to the fact the car crossed the block after 9:00 p.m. But I still did okay and am completely happy with the result. There was profit in this deal for me.” Jack continues: “That’s what auction sales are all about. I think I got the best dollar on that day, at that hour that I would have gotten anywhere. It goes back to the pre-sale advertising done by Barrett-Jackson, the exposure in the internet catalog, the amount of people who were there on site. The only sad thing was that we lost some of the crowd as the night wore on. But I’m working on a ’70 Road Runner back in Alberta. It’s a two-owner 383 automatic car with 32, 000 original miles.”
Will we see Jack’s Road Runner cross the Barrett-Jackson auction block in 2015? “Could be, ” Jack says. “I really enjoy the thrill of getting together with the owner of a classic Mopar and cooking a deal so both sides are satisfied with the outcome, then bringing it home and spending some time with it to take off the rough edges … and then selling it to move on to another project. I am an enthusiast, not a collector or dealer. The thrill is in tracking stuff down. It’s fun and exciting.”
To learn more about Barrett-Jackson go to www.barrett-jackson.com.