Monday, January 19, 2009

2009 Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale: Tri-Motor Airplane, First Production Thunderbird among the top 5 sellers.

(Picture credit:, thanks to Autoblog for there coverage.)

Every January, even before the 24 hours of Daytona comes around next weekend at Daytona International Speedway, I always look forward to the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction in Scottsdale, AZ that is televised live on SPEED, it’s that one auction on television that seems to really bring out those large group of bidders and car enthusiasts under one roof, that normally will spend whatever it takes to buy that classic, muscle, modern or just dream car for their collections, let along it’s a giant car show of some of the most exclusive cars including a couple of my favorites, Shelby’s, Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, Superbirds, Corvette and more (I’m not a one brand person when it comes to cars, although domestics do shine with me still).

There were several vehicles coming across the auction block that caught my eye, however, I found it interesting that the highest hammered down price was not for charity, concept car or even a car, but the top seller was a 1929 Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor Airplane, that was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, where it suffered superficial bullet holes from Japanese strafing that sold for $1.1 Million Dollars, but the buyer bought not only a good airplane, but a huge piece if history.

However one of the best parts of watching the Barrett-Jackson is seeing custom made or donated vehicles to be auctioned off for charity and for 2009, there were several charities in attendance, but the Darrell Gwynn Foundation had an interesting twist, first, last year at the auction, a Tony Stewart #20 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Racecar that had won several races, that sold for $300,000, for 2009, two cars that I noticed were being auctioned off for the same charity.

On Saturday, a #24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Monte Carlo Racecar was auctioned away for $500,000 for charity, later that night, it was a 1970 Plymouth Superbird Custom Tribute signed by several people including “The King” Richard Petty, nice Superbird, although it was created from a Plymouth Satellite, but still cool and so was the sold price at $501,000. Ironically enough, the bidder raised his own bid by $1,000 to beat the Jeff Gordon racecar above, nice touch.

On Sunday, the same #20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Monte Carlo Racecar that sold last year, was re-donated and sold this year $181,500, you can tell how much the economy does come into play with auction prices.

The highest selling car and one of the best cars at the auction had to be a nice, sweet, black 1955 Ford Thunderbird Convertible “Production #1”. I wonder if Courtney Hanson saw this one, she likes Thunderbirds. That is not something you find everyday a first production Thunderbird, what a piece of history and it hammed away for $600,000.

Final thoughts, in 2008, enthusiasts and auction bidders didn’t see the hammer prices that they normally did in years past, no $5 Million for Carroll Shelby’s personal 1966 SHELBY COBRA 427 "SUPER SNAKE", no $4 Million for a GM tour bus or even $3 Million for a Oldsmobile concept car and this year (2009) was the pretty much the same, however in my eyes, the prices hammered down this past weekend for the most part where at a fair price, yes it’s not what everybody has seen years ago, but even for this economy, the prices were still solid and in most cases were right where they should be, although HEMI’s where down a bit, but it’s what is in demand, it’s what the bidders want to buy, whether its Rick Hendrick buying a couple of cars, from the GM collection, to Ron Prat buying a car for charity or a first time bidder, it was still the same excitement, but at a lot less money.