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The January classic car auctions of Scottsdale, Arizona


Every January the car shows transform Scottsdale, Arizona into a wonderland of classic cars. If you like classic cars, like I do, it can be great fun. If you have more money than I do, you can get a bargain - that's the whole point of auctions.

By far the most famous and popular classic car auction is the Barrett-Jackson, which began in 1971, and is held at WestWorld, on the polo grounds, just south of Bell Road, east of the 101. If you've never been to one of these car shows, this is the place to start. And if you're like me, you won't go to the auctions, you'll just go look at the cars. I'll tell you how it works.

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Several days before the auction the cars are set out for inspection. You can wander around and look at them at your leisure. No, you can't drive them around, or kick the tires, but you can do a careful inspection. Usually the sellers are there all week so you can talk to them, and there are other things to see, you know, booths that sell stuff, posters, etc. It takes a bit of walking, but it's great fun. And yes, you'll see the "rich and famous" - and if you recognize celebrities better than I do, you'll see a lot of famous people.

I'm lucky because I have a friend who restores and sells some of the most amazing cars you've ever seen. So I get to tag along. He started selling many years ago at the Barrett-Jackson and has now moved up to one of the more exclusive auctions, called the Gooding and Company. It's also in Scottsdale, but it's much smaller, and way more expensive, and just blows my mind. It's held in a tent in the parking lot next to the parking garage at the Scottsdale Galleria. No, I won't tell you who my friend is, I don't do that, but if you see a very tall man in his late fifties with a shaved head and sunglasses with a beautiful fluffy white dog, that's him.

Like I say, if you're a spectator, like I am, it's great fun. The reality of buying and selling cars like this at auction is actually pretty awful, unless you have nerves of steel, and I don't. A crazy amount of money goes back and forth, and went the auctioneer says "sold!" that's it. The most common question I hear from people is how much a car is worth, and I've learned that it's only worth what someone is willing to pay.

I have a lot of friends who do this, and I've been opening up my house to "the car guys" every year for a long time now. They bring excitement and glamor into my quiet life. They get nothing from me except a roof over their head, and they're fine with that. Sometimes I tag along, sometimes I just wish them well and watch them drive away. Either way I get to see a lot of cool cars.

If you're going to one of these auctions, and want to look like one of the rich and famous, there are some things that you will need to do. First of all, you have to look as if you don't need to impress anyone, so wear clothes with holes in them, go without shaving for a few days, that sort of thing. Of course to be sure to combine that with your Versace sunglasses - the type that cost more than the mortgage of my house. Whatever you do, don't gawk and take photos - that's for people like me!

See you at the car shows!

Looking inside of a 1954 Ferrari 250 GT Europa. I love looking at these kinds of cars! And the people-watching is fun, too!


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