THE INSIDER’S GUIDE TO SCOTTSDALE AUTO AUCTIONS
Every January, throngs of car fans descend on WestWorld of Scottsdale in numbers that exceed the population of the city itself. At the epicenter of this motoring Mecca is the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction.
Started in the 1960s by Tom Barrett and Russ Jackson as a charity car show, Barrett-Jackson evolved into an auto auction in the early ‘70s and has since exploded into a nine-day, televised extravaganza that draws 350,000 attendees, exhibitors, consignors and bidders.
“The auction site itself is 74 acres of cars and tents,” says Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “One million, one hundred thousand square feet of structure is put up, the world’s largest temporary structure by Guinness Book of World Records.”
When Jackson assumed leadership of the company in 1995, he made pivotal and sometimes bold moves to get Barrett-Jackson where it is today – things like focusing on muscle cars, televising events and going online, to name a few. Year after year of growth eventually piqued the interest of other auctioneers, who now join the motor madness that is loosely called Arizona Auto Auction Week.
Just about every major automotive auction house has an event in or around Scottsdale concurrent with Barrett-Jackson. Events run daily, from Jan. 11-19, 2020, and can be quite the spectacle. Like in 2013, when famed Hollywood custom-car maker George Barris rode in on the original Batmobile he created for the ‘60s television series – with the show’s iconic theme song playing over the loudspeakers and the bat symbol projected on the ceiling. “The place just went nuts,” Jackson says. “It brought $4.62 million.”
In scale and earnings, Barrett-Jackson is by far the largest Scottsdale auction. It sold more than 1,800 vehicles in 2019, totaling more than $118 million, with an average sale price of $69,000. At the other end of the spectrum is Gooding & Company, which sold less than one-tenth of what Barrett-Jackson did in 2019 but managed to do so over two days rather than nine, and at far higher transaction prices, averaging a staggering $457,000.
“We’re the two extremes, Barrett-Jackson and ourselves,” says David Gooding, president and co-founder of Santa Monica-based Gooding & Company. “And a lot of the other companies kind of fall somewhere on the spectrum between us.”
This year, those companies include Russo & Steele, Bonhams, RM Sotheby’s and Leake Action Company, a newcomer to the market.
“The interesting thing about Scottsdale is that it’s all about the auctions,” says auction historian Rick Carey. Whereas the major auto auctions held elsewhere usually piggyback with other collector-car events, like the Pebble Beach or Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, in Scottsdale the auctions themselves are the main event.
Many flock to the high-profile auto auctions for a glimpse of ultra-rare machines like the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster that went for $9.9 million at RM Sotheby’s in 2016 and is the most expensive car ever auctioned in Scottsdale (read about the top 10 most expensive cars sold in Scottsdale here). Others thrill in the entertainment of the adrenaline-filled auctions themselves, the air in the room effervescing with anticipation over bids to be won and lost. And, in the case of Barrett-Jackson, there is much to do besides the auctions, from buying gently used Hermes Birken bags to taking thrill rides. “You can go on ride-and-drives in new cars, see over 200 vendors selling all sorts of lifestyle items,” Jackson says.
With so many events crammed into a little more than a week, keeping track of all there is to see can be daunting. To make things a little easier, we’ve put together an overview of what to expect at each of the venues during Arizona Auction Week 2020.
Jan. 11-19, 2020
WestWorld of Scottsdale
Admission: $21-$195 (see website for details)
Barrett-Jackson sells nearly every car at no reserve, which lends to the anything-can-happen excitement, further enhanced by the stadium-size venue and fast pace. Auctions run Sunday to Sunday, with the highest-profile lots culminating on Saturday. Side attractions include an opening-night gala and a restoration section with live builds and other interactive activities.
Spectacles aside, this auction house plays an important role in the collector-car market, as a barometer for the latest trends. What does well here will ripple through the rest of the industry throughout the year.
“They almost singlehandedly created the category of resto-mods,” Carey says, referring to the now-popular muscle cars that are refurbished and modified with modern components. This year, ‘90s Japanese cars, which have been picking up steam in recent years, are expected to make a splash.
"You’re seeing a large influx of Gen-Xers and Millennials starting to buy cars,” Jackson says. “In fact, in Scottsdale, they almost matched the Boomers for their buying power. And they like a different car than the Boomers.”
One of the headlining lots for 2020 is a group of 21 vehicles from the personal collection of the late Paul Walker, known for starring in the Fast and the Furious franchise. The lot includes seven BMW M3s – yes, seven! – Chevrolet Chevelle and Nova station wagons, and a 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302S race car.
In keeping with its roots, Barrett-Jackson always auctions various vehicles for charity at no commission. Last year, it raised $9.6 million for charity. In 2020, one noteworthy inclusion will be VIN 001 of the highly anticipated 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, to be auctioned on behalf of Chevrolet and for which 100% of the proceeds will benefit Detroit Children’s Fund.
Jan. 15-18, 2020
Scottsdale Fashion Square
Don’t be fooled by Gooding & Company’s smaller scale relative to Barrett-Jackson: its auctions are big, having routinely set sales records in recent years. Four of the top 10 most expensive cars ever auctioned in Scottsdale were through Gooding, including one from 2019 – a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Scaglietti Berlinetta that went for $7,595,000.
Unlike Barrett-Jackson, which has something for everyone, with a broad range of vehicle types and prices, Gooding & Company skews toward the high end, with a focus on European sports cars. Other top sellers for 2019 included a $5,890,000 1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF and a 1953 Ferrari 250 MM Spider that sold for $5,395,000.
Buyers at the very top of the market have grown more demanding in recent years. “It really matters a hell of a lot more now what the condition of the car is, whether it’s original or beautifully restored and what its history is,” Gooding says. “There’s still a lot of money out there and still a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, but the buyers are being very picky, so the average or less-than-average cars are dropping off in price considerably.”
Viewings, where attendees can check out the vehicles to be auctioned ahead of any hammer drop, start Jan. 15, while the auctions themselves run Jan. 17-18. Only those vehicles valued in excess of $250,000 will carry a reserve.
Jan. 15-17, 2020
Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix
Admission: $200 (bidder registration fee to auction, includes guest)
RM Sotheby’s, known primarily for high-dollar European sports cars, is a joint venture between Ontario, Canada-based RM Auctions and British-founded, New York-based Sotheby’s.
It has seen four of the top 10 most expensive cars ever to be sold in Scottsdale, including the priciest of all: the aforementioned 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster that went for $9.9 million in 2016. It sold around 130 cars in 2019 for a total of nearly $37 million, at a relatively lofty average price of $281,000.
The top sale for 2019 was a 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO at $3,360,000, the highest price ever paid for one at a North American auction, according to Hagerty. Other notable sales include a 2019 McLaren Senna at $1,457,500 and a 2010 Porsche 911 Sport Classic, which sold for $654,000.
Previews on Jan. 15-17 are open to the public, but the auctions on Jan. 16 and 17 are only open to ticket holders. Also worth mentioning is that The Arizona Biltmore is notable for having been designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Jan. 16, 2020
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
This London-based auction house is known for top-dollar European sports cars, including the third most expensive car ever to be auctioned in Scottsdale: a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Pininfarina Coupe that brought $9,405,000 in 2015. It also sold a 1963 Jaguar XKE SI Lightweight Competition for $7,370,000 in 2017, making it the 10th most expensive car auctioned here.
In 2019, Bonhams sold a little more than 100 cars in Scottsdale for a total of $16.1 million and an average price of $149,000. The mix of vehicles was broad and included so-called “Youngtimer” vehicles, which are cars with collector value that are not yet classics.
Top sellers for 2019 included a 1951 Maserati A6G 2000 Spider at $2.8 million and a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing that brought $1.1 million.
18601 North Scottsdale Road
Russo & Steele, founded in 2001 by Drew and Josephine Alcazar, is one of the more approachable venues, with a unique “auction in the round” format that puts bidders and spectators right on the floor, fanned out in a circle around the car being auctioned, so everyone feels like they’re part of the action.
In 2019, it did the second highest volume, with 308 cars sold for a total of nearly $12 million. Its broad mix of European sports cars, American muscle cars and hot rods brought the lowest average price by far at $38,500, making it the most accessible in terms of pricing.
Previews begin on Jan. 15, with the auctions themselves running Jan. 16-19.
Jan. 15-19, 2020
Salt River Fields
Leake is new to Scottsdale but has been auctioning cars since 1964. It will feature more than 100 cars from private collector John Staluppi, including a 1949 Dodge Power Wagon, 1956 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Convertible, 1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible, 1966 Pontiac GTO, 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, 1970 Dodge Charger Custom Daytona, and a 2012 Lexus LFA.
TOP 10 IDEAS FOR A CREATIVE VACATION
Art flourishes in Scottsdale where a lineup of more than 100 galleries makes it one of the most concentrated collections in the country. Our Sonoran Desert escape also is home to acclaimed museums, architectural wonders, award-winning events and a renowned public art program.
“America’s Original ArtWalk” is a 40-year Scottsdale tradition that takes place every Thursday night from 7 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The free year-round event is staged at galleries along Main Street and Marshall Way in the downtown Arts District and is a leisurely, go-at-your-own-pace public showing of works by artists from around the globe. Browse a wide variety of works, stop in for a meal at one of the local restaurants, or hop on a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Scottsdale hosts a number of art-focused happenings throughout the year. The fun kicks off in January with the opening of Celebration of Fine Art, which brings together nationally celebrated and award-winning artists that produce sculptures, carvings, paintings, mixed media and more. In March the Scottsdale Arts Festival is your chance to purchase pieces directly from 200 jury-selected artists from the United States and Canada.
No matter what your artistic style is, Scottsdale has a museum to suit your interests. For the latest and cutting-edge modern exhibits, visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is the city’s newest addition, and it immerses its guests in the essence of the American West through artworks and artifacts. And at the Heard Museum you'll enjoy outstanding works of contemporary and historic Native American art.
Local, national and international performers take center stage at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Browse 5,000 instruments from around the world at the MIM and then catch acts in the cutting-edge music theater. At the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, it’s all about eye-opening, sidesplitting and awe-inspiring presentations that include Broadway shows, standup comedy and live music.
PUBLIC ART COLLECTION
Since its beginnings in 1985, the Scottsdale Public Art Collection has grown to encompass nearly 100 permanent installations and myriad revolving temporary exhibits. Many of the city’s most recognizable works, like Robert Indiana’s LOVE Sculpture and Ed Mell’s Jack Knife, are within walking distance of one another in pedestrian-friendly Old Town. But you’ll spot magnificent pieces all over the city, even when driving along our freeways!
Frank Lloyd Wright fell in love with the rugged beauty of Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert in 1937 and began building his winter home alongside the majestic McDowell Mountains only a year later. Today Taliesin West is a working architectural school and famous landmark that offers tours of Wright’s former residence. Wright’s influence is still seen all around Scottsdale and its surrounding area – most notable are the spire that sits on the northwest corner of the Promenade shopping center and ASU Gammage in nearby Tempe, Ariz.
Many of Wright’s former students have also left their mark on Scottsdale. The late Italian-born designer Paolo Soleri, famous for his concept of “arcology” and environmentally sound community called Arcosanti, is one of them. See how Soleri’s popular bronze bells are still cast at Cosanti, then make your way to Old Town Scottsdale for a glimpse of Soleri Bridge and Plaza, which is an homage to the importance of solar movement and the only one of Soleri’s bridge designs to be built.
Even a stay at a Scottsdale resort or hotel can be a cultural experience! The Phoenician is home to a premier art collection that rivals the area’s best museums. Revel in the bright tropical artwork of renowned Cuban artist Nelson Garcia-Miranda at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, or head to Hermosa Inn, a boutique hideaway to admire the paintings and self-portraits of original owner and cowboy artist Lon Megargee.
Scottsdale is a community that embraces its storied history. Visit the Native American Learning Center at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch or the Cultural Center at Talking Stick Resort. You also can take in a free performance of Native American music and dance at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch every Friday at 5 p.m.
Is your inner Picasso screaming for a breakthrough? Nurture your creative side at Scottsdale Artists’ School, where weekly classes are led by working, professional artists experienced in mediums like charcoal, drawing, sculpture and more. And even if you’ve never so much as dipped into a Crayola watercolor set, you’ll be amazed with what you can create during a two- or three-hour guided painting session at Art of Merlot.
AN INSIDER'S GUIDE TO FIESTA BOWL
The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl is a time-honored tradition in Arizona – played every winter under our warm, sunny skies. Founded in 1971 and part of the College Football Playoff Series since 1998, the Fiesta Bowl is one of college football’s premier events. While the game takes center stage, don’t miss the Fiesta Bowl Parade, Pre-Game Party and Museum – all of which offer different experiences and insights into college football.
Not sure where to start? Use this planning guide so that you don’t miss a moment of the excitement!
WHO PLAYS IN THE FIESTA BOWL?
This year's Fiesta Bowl game will pit No. 2 Ohio State against No. 3 Clemson on Dec. 28, 2019 at 6 p.m. MST at State Farm Stadium. The teams are two of three teams left undefeated this season.
If you’re a little foggy on exactly how college football playoffs are structured or how teams for each game are determined, don’t feel bad – it’s complicated! Here’s what you need to know:
- The Fiesta Bowl is part of the College Football Playoffs, which is an annual postseason knockout, invitational tournament to determine a national champion for the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.
- Every year, four teams compete in two semi-final games and the winner of each game advances to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
- The Fiesta Bowl hosts one of the aforementioned semifinal games every three years. The next semifinal game at the Fiesta Bowl is Dec. 28, 2019.
For more details, check out the official College Football Playoff website.
WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE AND AFTER THE GAME?
This year’s game on Saturday, Dec. 28 is conveniently placed between Christmas and New Year’s Day, which provides a perfect long weekend escape. Plus, you’ll get to take advantage of Scottsdale’s mild winter temps, which average 72 degrees – perfect for outdoor activities and adventures of all kinds. Take a hike in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which encompasses one-third of the city and boasts more than 200 miles of shared-use trails. Hold on tight during a Hummer tour that provides an up-close-and-personal glimpse of the Sonoran Desert. Fly high on a hot air balloon tour. Swing a club at one of the area’s more than 200 golf courses. Take a stroll through the galleries and shops in Old Town Scottsdale. Whatever your heart desires, it’s here in Scottsdale.
Click here to order your free copy of the Scottsdale Visitor Guide.
WHAT OTHER EVENTS ARE HOSTED BY THE FIESTA BOWL?
- Take in the pageantry of brilliantly colored floats, giant balloons, equestrian units, specialty and charitable groups, local celebrities and marching bands as they make their way along the two-mile parade route in Central Phoenix.
- Dec. 28, 2019 at 9 a.m.
- The parade starts at Central and Montebello Avenues
- Free to the public; reserved seating available for $30.
- It wouldn’t be college football without a proper tailgate party. Join thousands of other college football fans at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Fan Fest Pregame Party on the Great Lawn at State Farm Stadium. Fans of all ages can experience some of the greatest pregame traditions like pep rallies and performances by marching bands and cheerleaders, interactive games to play and, of course, plenty of food and beverage booths to get you ready for the big game.
- Dec. 28, 2019 (kick-off time TBD)
- Free admission with purchase of game ticket
Want a more exclusive pregame party? Check out the Fiesta Bowl Stadium Club option, an all-inclusive experience for $125.
- While not part of the College Football Playoff series, Arizona also hosts the annual CHEEZ-IT Bowl. This game pairs selections from the Big 12 and Pac 12 for an exciting match-up the day before the Fiesta Bowl.
- Dec. 27, 2019 at 8:15 p.m.
- Chase Field – 401 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ
GAME DAY FAQ
When is the game? Dec. 28 at 6 p.m.
Where is the game? State Farm Stadium, 1 Cardinals Dr., Glendale, AZ
Do I have to pay for parking? Yes. Parking passes start at $40, but we highly recommend that you purchase one. Not only will you have to park much farther away without a pass, but you also run the risk of getting a ticket if you park in an unauthorized area.
How much are tickets? Individual tickets range from $110 to $355. You also have the option of purchasing suites and ticket packages. It’s important to note that on semifinal years (which is this year’s game), even infants must have a ticket.
Can I bring a bag into the game? Yes, but Fiesta Bowl has a Clear Bag Policy that limits the type and size of bags that can be brought into the stadium.
How long will it take to get to the game? Old Town Scottsdale (Indian School and Scottsdale Roads) is 27 miles from State Farm Stadium, where the Fiesta Bowl is played. Without traffic, it takes approximately 40 minutes to reach the stadium. On game day, it’s recommended to allocate a minimum of two hours for travel time. The earlier you leave, the lighter traffic will be!
Are there Shuttles from Scottsdale to the Stadium? None that we are aware of at this time. But, rideshare services like Lyft are prevalent in this destination. Rideshare services are authorized to pick-up and drop-off at the Black Lot shown on this parking map.
Fans are encouraged NOT to use directional apps like Google Maps, Waze or Apple Maps when approaching the stadium on game day as they do not take into account special road closures, traffic patterns and access routes allocated to specific carparks. Using these apps could ultimately result in a longer commute.