How did Barrett-Jackson get started and in what year?
In 1963, Tom Barrett placed an ad in the newspaper for a 1933 Cadillac Town Car. My dad, Russ Jackson, responded; and although that deal never materialized, the two bonded over their love of classic cars. Beginning in 1967, they staged a car show and parade in Scottsdale known as the “Fiesta de los Autos Elegantes” to benefit the city’s art center and community library. The two phased out that event in 1971, formed Barrett-Jackson, and began work on a collector car auction to be held that winter.
Did you always have a love of automobiles?
Pretty much – I just remember always being around cars, and I loved it. At the age of 9, I helped restore a 1939 Austin Bantam as a family project for the Fiesta de los Autos Elegantes. I’ve been going to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and The Elegance at Hershey since I was a little kid. My dad often had me hauling a wagon back and forth through all the rows of cars, looking for V16 and V12 Cadillac and Delahaye parts.
Do you collect one particular type of car?
My collection is diverse, but I do have a fondness for late ‘60s to early ʼ70s American muscle cars; as well as more modern-day supercars. One of my favorite cars is an “In-Violet” purple 1970 HEMI ’Cuda. It is one of just 14 convertibles built that year, the only one painted in its color and the only one ever exported (it spent part of its life in England).
What have you done to expand the Barrett-Jackson brand?
When I took the reins of the company in 1995, my focus was on developing our internet presence. I had a vision to broadcast the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction on national television – which became a reality in 1997. The auction evolved into a world-class automotive lifestyle event with a little something for everyone. We continue to expand our global brand with live television coverage on Velocity and Discovery. We have fans reaching out to us from all over the world now, particularly in the U.K. and South America.
Where do you see the company in the next 20 years?
We are constantly evolving and working to provide an even better customer experience; from our actual events to our website, mobile app and more. While putting on an auction of our magnitude is a monumental undertaking, I wouldn’t rule out expanding into a fifth location at some point in the future. Also, our demographic is changing to include younger generations – Gen Xers and Millennials – so there will be a shift in the selection of vehicles crossing the auction block to the cars they grew up with, as we’re beginning to witness already.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to collect or restore classic cars?
As I’ve always said, don’t buy a car because you think you’re going to make money on it – buy the car you love, that you want to use and have fun with. Buy the best you can buy, whatever that is. As far as restoring goes; with all the aftermarket parts companies these days, an entry-level collector car makes an excellent DIY project for a family. There are also top-notch restoration companies out there who can come to your aid for either all or part of a project – don’t be afraid to ask for help!
What do you personally think is the next big collectible car or cars?
You’re looking at a lot of people who want to buy cars they can drive and have fun with, that years ago we wouldn’t have thought of as a collector car, such as either original or Resto- Modded cars from the ‘80s and ‘90s. SUVs have become popular, as have Blazers, Broncos, Fox-body Mustangs, Trans Am-era cars, the IROCS – cars that Gen Xers and Millennials grew up with. Japanese imports from the ‘80s and ‘90s are attracting a big following as well. We had a 1997 Acura Integra Type R sell for a world-record price at our recent Las Vegas Auction that caused quite a stir on social media and the internet!
What local charities will Barrett-Jackson be involved with at the 2019 Scottsdale Auction in January?
Once again, we will be offering several vehicles for sale with 100 percent of the sale price going directly to some very special charities. Among the local organizations are Barrow Neurological Institute, which we are very excited about, as this is the first time their schedule has allowed us to collaborate; and Childhelp, which we have supported since 2005. To date, through the platform of Barrett-Jackson, nearly $105 million has been raised for important causes, both local and national. Most of that has been over the past 10 years.