As the last car rolled off the stage to close the 37th annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction on Sunday — a 1980 Mercedes-Benz Roadster — it marked the end of about 1,200 collectible cars sold to new owners who spent millions of dollars to take them home.
The total dollar amount from the sale of vehicles was not available late Sunday.
This year’s event, featuring appearances by Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, boxing legend Muhammad Ali, auto industry legend Carroll Shelby, and actor Patrick Dempsey of television’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” saw two cars sell for $1 million and one for more.
The most expensive car of this year’s show — a 1963 Corvette coupe “Rondine” one-of-a-kind concept car — sold for $1.6 million on Saturday.
The light blue Corvette, the only one in existence, was built for the Paris Auto Show, and was minus the popular split rear-window like the mainstream ’63 Corvette coupes. One of those sold for $180,000.
The most expensive car sold Sunday was a 1938 Packard white custom limousine, going for $245,000 during the last day of the event — attended by 36,000.
Two other cars that sold for $1 million each on Saturday were a 1928 Dusenberg J and a 2009 Corvette ZR1.
Carroll Shelby’s personal 1969 Shelby GT500 convertible sold for $675,000 and a 1967 Shelby 427 Cobra for $625,000 to round out the top five most expensive cars, according to a Barrett-Jackson spokesman.
Last year, vehicle sales totaled $112 million, according to the spokesman.
Total estimated attendance for the week was 280,000 — up 30,000 from last year — and Saturday’s attendance alone was 50,000, up 8,000 from last year, according to the spokesman.
Automobile memorabilia auctioned, such as vintage neon signs and gasoline pumps, netted $851,819, up 47 percent from last year.
But what could make someone part with a fine-tuned piece of the American dream and allow it to be driven by someone else?
“You want to change the furniture once in a while,” said Will Raynor of Seattle, Wash., who drove a 1938 Ford Woody Wagon onto the auction block for its owner, Gordon Apker of Seattle, on Saturday. It sold for $105,000.
McKeel Hagerty, president of the Michigan-based Hagerty Insurance, the largest insurer of collectible cars in the world, told the Tribune it was something as simple as a color combination on a car’s exterior or a performance option for an engine that could drive a car to six figures and beyond.
Hagerty also credited the baby boomer generation coming of retirement age and the cost of restoring a collectible vehicle for driving up prices.
“It’s all about supply and demand, to the finest little detail of what went in the car,” Hagerty said. “1950s cars were always the most popular, but the last few years, it was like somebody flipped a switch and muscle cars like Camaros, Mustangs or GTOs are being sought after. They were the cars baby boomers grew up with or that their older brothers had and now, they can afford one.”