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The Barrett Jackson Auto Auction: $130 million and counting

Posted by: Erik Bjornstad

The next iteration of the Barrett Jackson classic car auction took place recently in Palm Beach, Florida.  Dubbed "the worlds greatest collector car auction", its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, reaching heights not seen in the event's 44 year history. The 2014 event in  Scottsdale, Arizona saw over 1,600 classic cars sold for more than $130 million. Seven vehicles  sold for more than $1 million each - the top dog being a 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 fetching more than $5 million.

BJlogo_April2015.jpgThe first Barrett Jackson auto auction was in 1972 and featured Adolf Hitler's armored Mercedes Benz 770k. It sold for more than $150,000.  The auction was held primarily in Scottsdale, Arizona until 2003 when a second auction was added in Palm Beach. 2008 saw a third auction in Las Vegas. And, starting this year in September, the first Barrett Jackson auction will take place in New England.

The Barrett Jackson auction has reached such heights that it is televised by Discovery Channel (it used to be televised on Speedvision until that network was acquired by Fox Sports). In that regards, it helps that the auction attracts a star-studded gallery of famous faces every year. The 2014 auction in Arizona had an audience packed with Hollywood movie stars and prominent figures from across the world of sports and entertainment. Reggie Jackson. Tim Allen. Alice Cooper, Steven Seagal. Sharon Stone shows that it's not just the guys who like classic cars. 

And it's also not just an event to fulfill the car fantasies of the rich and famous. The Barrett Jackson auction also functions as a prominent fundraising vehicle for local and national charities. Since 2006, the auction events have raised more than $20 million, and the most recent auction vents have raised almost $5 million a shot for charities such as The United Way, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, St. Jude's, The Boy Scouts of America, and a variety of other worthwhile causes. This would not, of course, be possible without generous donations from corporate and private citizens alike. Sammy Hagar, Jay Leno, Gene Simmons, rapper DMX, WWE Superstar Bill Goldberg have all donated auto from their private collections to raise money.  NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon donated his 1999 champion stock car model, which raised $500,000 at auction. Masters champion Bubba Watson donated his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle Road store, which raised $410,000 for the charity Birdies For The Brave. Not to be left out, automakers like Ford And  BMW have taken to donating the first production vehicles of a given model and generational combination, all to raise money for charity.  Such cars in the 2015 Scottsdale auction raised well in excess of six figures for worthwhile causes for each one.  

If you caught any of it on the Discovery Channel, let us know what you think!

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This post was published on April 15, 2016 and was updated on June 4, 2021.

Topics: Classic Cars