Every January for the last 46 years, the Phoenix, Arizona suburb of Scottsdale has garnered the attention of auto collectors and motoring enthusiasts. I’m speaking of course about Barrett-Jackson, where car nuts can spend a week wrapped up in virtually any kind of automotive insanity. And if you’re filthy rich, you can even flaunt your fat bankroll live on national television by ridiculously overpaying for cars just to prove who has the biggest di— uh, I mean credit limit.
But then I realised something. There are actually two auctions taking place during the week-long event. You have the Monday - Thursday auction where hundreds of automotive gems change hands at reasonable prices, helping establish market trends for the year. Then you have the primetime Friday and Saturday auctions where impressive and rare autos earn their inflated values for being the ego-strokers they are. Normal rules don’t apply because hey, it’s entertainment. I’m cool with that. And then you have Sunday, the best day to buy because everyone else is either broke or too hung over to bid.
Whether you watch the auction for the gems or ego strokers, there will be some amazing rides going across the auction block in a few weeks. Here are some of my picks to keep an eye on.
Gem: Lot 12 - 1985 Nissan 300ZX Turbo Convertible
Barrett-Jackson is a sea of American and European classics so just finding this rare Japanese droptop in the docket is a win. This 300ZX had a professional conversion done to render it topless, and it’s a turbo five-speed to boot. It’s also a no-reserve car and among the first batch to across the block on Monday, so it could end up being a really great purchase.
Ego Stroker: Lot 1352 - 1999 Lamborghini Diablo VT
I sincerely hope people absolutely lose their minds bidding for this car. Countach values have gone bonkers, and many people feel the Diablo is really the last ‘mad’ Lambo. A few years ago you could buy one of these for $100,000, but if Countach trends are an indication of what’s to come, this could sell for double that price.
Gem: Lot 13 - 1995 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Belltech SEMA car
Right after the Nissan comes what could be the performance buy of the entire auction. It’s 5.7-litre V8 is supercharged and features all kinds of other upgrades, and it’s selling on the first day with no reserve. I hesitate to throw numbers around, but I bet this car struggles to bring $10,000 - far less than it would cost to build and all kinds of performance for the money.
Ego Stroker: Lot 1282 - 1957 Ford Thunderbird “F” Model
Speaking of superchargers, this factory supercharged 1957 Thunderbird is extremely rare and very desirable in black. It’s slated to run primetime on Saturday and part of a large auto collection being sold this year, so expect this car to positively bonkers with bidders.
Gem: Lot 728 - 1978 Porsche 911 Slant Nose Custom
Who doesn’t love a slant nose 911? This one is turbocharged and looks sick in red with the wide body kit. I don’t think it will slip under the radar, but it’s no-reserve and slated for a Thursday sale so it could go surprisingly cheap.
Ego Stroker: Lot 1328 - 1987 Buick GNX
I expect people to completely lose their marbles over this car. Only 547 were built, and whereas most ‘80s cars sucked, the GNX could give supercars of the day a run for their money. This is one-owner car with just 1500 miles and all the nerdgasm-type stuff auto collectors just eat up. It’s primetime on Saturday, and I easily see thing bringing a quarter-million dollars.
Gem: Lot 488 - 2005 Aston Martin DB9 Convertible
Contrary to the Porsche, I think this Aston will slip under the radar. It’s scheduled to cross the block fairly late on Wednesday, and while Astons are beautiful cars, they can easily be overshadowed at a place like Barrett-Jackson. If you’re looking for a V12 exotic, it’s got 24,000 miles and I bet it doesn’t go for much more than $30,000.
Ego Stroker / Gem: Lot 1381 - 1971 Ferrari Daytona Spyder
This car will cross the block during primetime on Saturday, and it’s a positively gorgeous Ferrari Daytona. It’s not an original spyder though - it was professionally converted in the 1980s, and it’s also done 80,000 miles. It won’t sell cheap, but the mileage and the non-original conversion might keep this car ‘affordable.’ Gem or ego; It could go either way.
Gem: Lot 1153.1- 1970 Mustang Boss 302
This highly collectible Boss Mustang is scheduled for primetime on Friday, but it’s selling in a sea of highly desirable classic American muscle cars. Shelby is still the hot name for Mustangs right now, so I think this original Grabber Orange Boss could be a surprisingly good buy.
Ego Stroker: Lot 1309.1 - Customer 1969 Dodge Charger / Viper
This completely mental frankensteined muscle car could be one of the highest selling cars of the entire auction. That’s because we have a timeless 1969 Dodge Charger body mounted to a modified Dodge Viper chassis. Yes, that includes the Viper V10, six-speed manual, brakes, suspension, everything you’d need to make a vintage Charger stop, go, and turn like a modern supercar. It’s a primetime seller, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to go ballistic.
All photos courtesy of Barrett-Jackson