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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Jul 9, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

The 2011 Barrett-Jackson Auctions in Orange County, California

Words and pictures by John Grafman There are auctions, and then there are auctions. The Barrett-Jackson Auctions play second fiddle to none. The expansion last year into Orange County seemed like a no-brainer in the company’s growing reach. The only question is: What took so long?


This is now the second year in OC, but it seems like this has been a fixture here for a decade. Certainly, Barrett-Jackson has the know-how that comes with creating auctions for over forty years. The lead up to the weekend event on June 24-27, 2011 includes a road rally, a mini car show, and a cruise-in on the previous weekend, and the OC Tourism Golf Classic at Strawberry Farms Golf Club, which coincidentally was the former home of the Newport Coast Concours, was held on Tuesday the 21st.


Bringing an added dose of class is the opening night gala and fashion show. At $150 per couple, this becomes the place to see and be seen at. It isn’t at all out of the nom to rub elbows with the likes of Barry Meguiar and other industry locals. For those that haven’t been to one of these productions, this might not be what you think. The massive custom tent where the actual auction takes place would do P.T. Barnum and Bailey proud. So how big is it? Barrett-Jackson’s team brings out a portion of the renowned Scottsdale auction tent measuring nearly two football fields in length. The bidding and buying takes place in the center tent, with bleachers set up on the sides and the rear. One of the adjoining tents holds cars that are waiting a turn on the auction block, and the other numerous vendors that are hawking all sorts of related and non-related miscellaneous items.


None of this seems out of place, but outside the tents the story changes. Both GM and Ford are fielding massive displays. It’s really hard to not be wowed by just how elaborate the exhibits are. Perhaps Ford at the moment has a bit more green to play with, or maybe this is just the right place to show its past and present. Either way, the drifting display featuring Vaughn Gittin Jr. is a blend of highly skilled driving, smoking tires, and gloriously loud motors.


In a separate ride-and-drive area the attendees are snapping up thrilling ride-alongs with professional drivers in race-ready Mustangs provided by Miller Motorsports Park, and in Corvettes by Ron Fellows Performance Driving School on a coned course. Also,those willing to wait a couple minutes are taking the wheel to sample the GM and Ford products, like the Camaro, Cadillac, Focus, Lincoln, Mustang, Raptor, and even the Volt.


As impressive as those displays are, there are more than a couple others that are catching the attention of even casual enthusiasts like cats catch mice. The duPont Registry is touting a grouping with several Rolls-Royce cars, a Ferrari 458, a Lotus Evora, a Ford GT, and a couple other cars including a Bugatti Veyron. However, these are for display, not for sale. Other display treats scattered about are care of Callaway, Galpin AutoSports, Meguiars, Mothers, Superformance, and many other sponsors that make this a massive affair.


The roots of the mega three-day auction are just as impressive as the cars. “Barrett-Jackson was founded on a philosophy of philanthropy when Tom Barrett and my father, Russ Jackson, hosted their first car show to raise money for the Scottsdale library and community arts center in 1967,” states Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson adds “We’ve made it our goal to raise as much money for both local and national foundations as possible and so far, we’ve generated more than $34 million." Last year the auction in Orange County raised a cool million for charities. Eight cars sold without fees or commissions go entirely to nine charitable organizations. The benefiting national and local charity organizations include the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer, Cell Phones for Soldiers, The Center for Living Peace and the Tony Hawk Foundation, The Darrell Gwynn Foundation, the Foundation for Blind Children, Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, Special Olympics Southern California, the Surfing Heritage Foundation.


A couple comments reflect that some of the cars are just as likely to be found at a dealer auction, but that does round out the activities, and provides something for everyone. Overall, however, most of the cars have uniqueness to them. This year we do see some and crazy dollars changing hands for some surprising cars. When one of the cars that commands the most bucks happens to be a 1963 VW 23 Window Bus at a staggering $217,800 (including buyer’s commission), it’s clear the recession hasn’t hit everyone quite the same. Granted, it is an absolutely flawless car, aside from being perhaps too nice.


If muscle cars are more to your liking, Barrett-Jackson has nearly an unlimited supply. Lot number 345 belongs to a 1970 Dodge Hemi Challenger R/T hardtop, with a 426 and a 4-speed manual, from Dave's Garage Car Collection. With matching number this vehicle underwent a compete restoration. The bottom line on this baby is $215K and change. A super sweet 1957 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible goes under the hammer to the tune of $172,700, and it’s worth every dollar. This comes from the famed Dave's Garage Car Collection. This V8 also features one of the cleanest frame-off restorations you will find around.


There are also many cars that come in at prices that even us mortals can afford. A clean, coral white 1956 Ford Thunderbird Convertible with a V8 is fetching just over $40K. This had a frame off restoration just over 1,000 miles ago. This even has new Kelsey Haynes wire wheels, plus a new interior. A custom ’69 Camaro in Hugger Orange with black stripes comes with a 427 big-block engine, and a four-speed manual. Completely restored this comes in at a very reasonable $55K.


And some cars are not, nor every have been streetable. Case in point, the 1929 Fiat Gipsy historic racer. Taking into account the age and the rarity of this, it’s amazing to see a car like this completely restored, and available to the public. However, due to the limited uses of a car like this, this only manages a price of $60,500. A 6.2 liter 4-cylinder de Havilland Gipsy Major aircraft engine can crank out 130 horses and a race worthy growl. Over the three days some 300 cars change hands. By Sunday evening at the conclusion of the auction, it’s apparent the criterion isn’t how much one pays, it’s if they won or lost.


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