Barrett-Jackson, WestWorld, Scottsdale, Arizona, January 15-20, 2013
Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor
Every year Barrett-Jackson’s WestWorld show changes. It is the one predictable element in the strategy of Craig Jackson, Steven Davis, Gary Bennett and Phil Neri.
Maybe the most surprising change in 2013 was the re-appearance of Chrysler’s SRT brand. Last seen at WestWorld years ago, Mopar was supplanted by Ford Motor Company. Then General Motors bought into the WestWorld experience with a presence that has steadily increased – although Ford remains the Big Dog at the main entrance. Mopar moved over to Russo and Steele for a few years, then its presence evaporated entirely, only to bubble back up as a second level Barrett-Jackson sponsor this year.
It’s no small accomplishment that Barrett-Jackson can attract and hold all three major US auto manufacturers as sponsors, two of them with major footprints, at the same event, and ample evidence of the commercial success of a Barrett-Jackson WestWorld presence.
In the auction tent it was the burgeoning presence of the Salon Collection that created buzz. Started last year, the Salon features classics and high end sports, muscle and pony cars, re-establishing some of the high end excitement that marked Barrett-Jackson long ago but had been subsumed by the intense focus on middle market and low end collector car that were accessible to Barrett-Jackson’s vast SPEED TV audience.
Barrett-Jackson gives the Salon cars feature placement online, in the event program, with prime placement at the front of the main preview tent and by accepting reserves on a few Salon consignments.
Far more important, however, Barrett-Jackson puts them in the coveted Saturday ‘Prime Time’ slot beginning at 5PM, The firmly established time and place for the auction’s premier consignments means consignors no longer have to sweat over ‘Prime Time’ lot numbers that slip into late evening – or early nighttime. Bidders, who may be tracking cars at other auctions, know when to be in the Barrett-Jackson Big Top. And, never to be overlooked, the producers at SPEED TV can build anticipation for the Salon Collection and deliver it to viewers in a fixed time slot.
Does it work? Oh, yeah.
Nine of the Salon Collection cars brought successful hammer bids of $1 million or more. They sold for an aggregate of $17,545,000, 16.8% of the new record total sale at Barrett-Jackson of $104,726,490. The Salon Collection’s contribution coupled with a strong consignment of high end cars in the auction’s normal docket and contributed to the seeming dichotomy of the median sale declining to $44,000 (from $48,400 last year) but the average jumping to $80,066, up 14.6% from 2012’s $69,871.
In other words, the 2013 Barrett-Jackson consignment was much stronger among upper middle market cars, or, in the alternative, bidders were flush with cash and willing to spend it on higher quality cars.
Barrett-Jackson has consistently innovated with new concepts. Craig Jackson and his team have been unafraid to tinkering with a good (a very good) thing in the interest of generating more excitement, more interest and in the final analysis more money. That’s an important part of the reason some 300,000 spectators walked through the WestWorld gates paying up to $55 for an adult day ticket (on Saturday.)
A lot of them came to see the Batmobile, too, and weren’t disappointed when it sold on Saturday evening for a mind-bending $4,620,000.
There’s always something new at Barrett-Jackson WestWorld, including a new venue replacing the Orange County Fairgrounds location with a sale in Reno during Hot August Nights. Combine that with a jaunt out onto the Bonneville salt flats and Monterey and the August schedule becomes as fraught as January.