Celebrities, star vehicles boost the drive of Barrett-Jackson - East Valley Tribune: Business

Celebrities, star vehicles boost the drive of Barrett-Jackson

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Posted: Friday, January 11, 2008 2:33 pm | Updated: 11:13 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Robosaurus and the Rondine will take center stage at Barrett-Jackson’s Collector Car Auction, which roars into WestWorld of Scottsdale this weekend.

Car-razy: Enthusiasts ready for collector shows

The massive car-crunching transformer and the one-off Corvette Rondine, which was hand-built for the 1963 Paris Auto Show, are just two of 1,200 vehicles scheduled to be sold at the annual auto-focused extravaganza that begins with a gala Saturday and ends when the last item crosses the block Sunday, Jan. 20.

More than just a pricey car sale, Barrett-Jackson is a lifestyle event with hundreds of vendors selling everything from vintage gas pumps to private planes, restaurants offering everything from gourmet grub to corn dogs, a fancy night club in a tent and the top three U.S. carmakers hawking their newest creations.

The Robosaurus will spring to life, snorting fire and biting a car or two in half, at 1 p.m. on Monday and at noon on Tuesday.

Car lovers can eye the vehicles on Sunday and Monday. They can start buying them on Tuesday. The auction starts at 2 p.m. Tuesday and continues until everything is sold on Sunday.

There will be the usual crop of celebrities. “Gray’s Anatomy’s” Patrick Dempsey, rocker Alice Cooper and D-back Randy Johnson will drive their cars onto the stage, said Gary Bennett, Barrett-Jackson’s vice president of consignment. So will Carroll Shelby, the most revered celeb of all to car enthusiasts. Shelby will sell another of his personal cars, a 1969 GT500, Bennett said.

Last year, Shelby’s personal 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Supersnake snagged an astounding $5.5 million.

“We may not have a $5 million car this year, but we will have more diverse and significant offerings than we’ve ever had before,” Bennett said.

Where else can you find an elegant 1933 Duesenberg and famous TV muscle car, the “Dukes of Hazzard’s” General Lee?

In fact, the event has taken on too many of the can’t-refuse vehicles. Barrett-Jackson planned to limit the number of cars to sell at 1,000 but instead took on 1,200 because some highly prized options came in after the cutoff, Bennett said.

That’s fewer cars than last year, but still too many for the Scottsdale venue, he said.

“This facility can only handle so much,” he said. “We’re bursting at the seams.”

The recently announced Las Vegas auction is scheduled for October, just three months before the Scottsdale event, so Bennett is less likely to have an overflow of coveted cars for the January 2009 Scottsdale show.

The upcoming auction likely will have a record number of well-heeled collectors.

The number of pre-registered bidders is 15 percent higher than the number at the same time last year, Bennett said. He expects the total number of qualified car buyers to range between 5,000 and 6,000 by the time the auction’s priciest cars cross the block.

Barrett-Jackson has spawned a slew of other events aimed at attracting collectors in town for the main event.

Also in the Valley this week is Gooding, which plans to stake out space at Scottsdale Fashion Square; Russo and Steele, which has been picking up steam — and some coveted cars — for its event at Loop 101 and Scottsdale Road; RM Auctions, the super-upscale and exclusive one-day auction at the Arizona Biltmore in east Phoenix, and Mitch Silver’s annual auction at Fort McDowell Casino.

Together the events have gelled into Auction Week, when the eyes of the car-lovers focus on Scottsdale.

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