Strolling through the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction is like being surrounded by kids in a candy store. Except these kids have considerably more disposable income and gray hair.
In the showcase pavilion at WestWorld of Scottsdale, crowds slowly walk past each vehicle with wide eyes.
And each car has its own story, special feature or color, like Rally Red, Orange Vitamin C and Plum Crazy. “They have an attraction, maybe from memories growing up, or they knew someone who had it and they wanted it,” said Bart Stanco, who was representing a 1970 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda known as “The Polar Bear.” “It creates a passion,” he added.
Chuck Jones of Dahlonega, Ga., received tickets to the auction from his wife, who would’ve been “bored silly.”
“But I love cars,” he said. “I read every car magazine.”
He was chatting with fellow Georgia resident, Clinton Sanford, who was representing a 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air.
If he could go home with one car, Jones said, it would have to be the 1966 Shelby Cobra “Super Snake.”
“Oh man, that’s a Ford!” Sanford protested.
A few spaces down the aisle, a different type of vehicle was grabbing attention.
It was a 1935 tour bus convertible — white, with leather seating for 14, a cut glass rear window, hidden ice coolers and a big-screen TV in the trunk for tailgating.
“Now that’s a truck,” one admirer said under his breath.
But Danny Sharaby actually climbed into the bus, saying he wasn’t going to bid on it.
“I’m going to buy it,” he said.
Sharaby owns Tickets Unlimited, and said he wanted the tour bus to take clients to football games and concerts.
“I very much think people cast a reflection on you based on what you drive,” he said.
Meanwhile, an even bigger crowd gathered near a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Seville — also known as “The Gagnon Murder Car.”
The story, according to owner John Pfanstiehl, says the original owner of the Eldorado was a costume jeweler named Maurice Gagnon, who bought the car after his business took off.
Gagnon was later robbed by two men, who were caught and released on bail.
The robbers pressured Gagnon to change his story to the police; he refused and was found dead in his car in 1959.
The two robbers received death sentences but were later paroled.
Pfanstiehl found the car in a dusty warehouse in 1981. It had sat for years as police evidence, and had only 2,216 miles on the odometer.
Since he bought it, Pfanstiehl has spent years confirming the rumors. But he said he’s ready to let go of the vehicle. “I think it’s an important part of American history, not just car history,” he said.
Exotic cars on the block today
1993 Warrior One Hummer H1, Lot 1281: CNN producers, photographers and correspondents drove the Hummer while embedded in Iraq during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The Hummer was overhauled in 2006 and equipped with an entertainment system. The exterior also was painted with images of journalists and members of the military.
2007 Ford Shelby GT Mustang, Lot 1300: This newest Mustang was built in Michigan then shipped to Las Vegas for modification by Carroll Shelby. This vehicle, which will benefit Shelby’s Children’s Foundation, carries plate 001. All 2007 Shelby Mustangs will come in only white or black.
1967 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe, Lot 1285: “The Last Sting Ray” is documented as the last of the C-2 series production, reported to be one of the greatest designs of muscle car history. The Stingray was featured in a SPEED series chronicling the car’s history and restoration.
1978 Tupolev N007 Gullwing Boat, Lot 1307: This vehicle was designed to recover Russian cosmonauts after space flights. It had to cross lakes, swampy tundra and hostile terrain. It also had to withstand subfreezing temperatures and travel above 100 km/hour. It is the only one known to exist in the country.
1966 Ford Shelby Cobra 427 “Super Snake”: One of two produced, this car was referred to as “The Cobra to end all Cobras.” The “Super Snake” was designed and built especially for Carroll Shelby, and it has been lauded as one of the most significant and valuable autos to cross the block.