Clint Goldwater had one of the best seats Saturday at the 37th annual Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale. The freelance cameraman from Austin, Texas, operated a 40-foot-long camera crane that stretched over classic and rare automobiles worth millions of dollars.
Goldwater, 32, has been filming the premier auto auction for the Speed Channel at Westworld in Scottsdale for four years. From his vantage, he is the first to zoom in on cars being driven to the auction block.
“I love cars, and I love to see the spectacle of all the cars here,” said Goldwater, who also films for NASCAR and the Indy Car circuit. “I get to see everything before it goes on the block.”
Goldwater, a former Phoenix resident with no relation to Barry Goldwater, said he drives a full-size Toyota pickup truck but loves the European sports cars — the vintage Jaguars, Porsches and MGs.
“They’re sporty,” Goldwater said. “I’d love to just get in one like a Lotus Elisa and drive away.”
More than an estimated 10,000 spectators and bidders crammed into the auction area Saturday to dream and drool over other fine machines that live on through auto legends such as Carroll Shelby and the late Harley Earl.
Cars at the auction, which concludes today, continued to bring an average price of $72,000, according to Barrett-Jackson spokesman Luke DeRouen.
As of Saturday evening, no car had come near last year’s record-setting price of $5.5 million fetched for Carroll Shelby’s personal 1966 Shelby Cobra “Super Snake.” But one vehicle did surpass the $1 million mark at about 6:45 p.m.
A 1963 Corvette coupe “Rondine” concept car sold for $1.6 million.
Most 1963 Corvette coupes have a rear split-window, but the light blue Rondine did not.
The vehicle was the only one of its kind built in 1963 for the Paris Auto Show. It featured a 327 V8 four-speed engine with 360 horse-power. Formerly housed in a museum, the car was offered for private ownership for the first time.
Another one-of-a-kind concept car — a 1963 Ford Thunderbird Fastback “Italien” that was meant to be crushed by Ford Motor Co. — went for $600,000. The Thunderbird featured a new roof line, aerodynamic styling and customized leather interior.
Although a noticeable mixture of 1950s classics were featured Saturday, the late 1960s muscle cars emerged as a favorite with spectators.
“These are the cars from when I grew up,” said Skip Towhill, 60, a spectator from Battleground, Wash.
One of the wildest draws in this year’s auction was a 40-foot mechanical dinosaur — a 31-ton mechanical Robosaurus — which crushes cars in its teeth with 20,000 pounds of force as 20-foot flames shoot from its mouth.
Robosaurus, which went for $575,000, was built in 1990 by a group of engineers to tour monster truck shows and fairs.
Actor Patrick Dempsey, who plays Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd from the television show “Grey’s Anatomy,” brought the loudest applause Saturday when he drove a 2005 Ford Mustang FR500C onto the stage.
The car, which Dempsey drove in the 2007 Grand-Am KONI Challenge series, sold for $200,000.
Ford loaned the car to Dempsey and his driving team last year with the agreement that he drive the car onto the stage at Barrett-Jackson, according to a Ford spokesman.
“I hate to let it go,” Dempsey told the crowd. “But this is a great place to do it.”
The top five most expensive cars at the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction, as of 10 p.m. Saturday:
1. 1963 Corvette coupe “Rondine” concept car: $1.6 million
2. (tie) 1928 Dusenberg J: $1 million
2. (tie) 2009 Corvette Z-R1 Coupe: $1 million
4. 1969 Shelby GT 500 convertible (auto industry legend Carroll Shelby’s personal car): $675,000
5. 1963 Ford Thunderbird Fastback “Italien” concept car: $600,000
Source: Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction