Saturday, April 6, 2013

Where the rich white men go


It's spring in Palm Beach again and just as has happened for the previous decade Barrett Jackson's parade of rolling dreams is underway. 

The differences between the Scottsdale and Florida events are minimal but noticeable.  For one thing, you're not going to see any 4.2 million dollar original Batmobiles roll under the palm trees.  This is an auction more in line with the well heeled collector looking for a sharp daily driver than a 1 of 1 rarity.

Oh, the feature cars are there but they're mixed in with somebody's 10 year old cast off Mercedes 500 SL.  You don't see as many of the heavy hitter bidders at this auction either mostly because the pickings aren't as choice.  That 70 Challenger RT is more likely to be a one-off custom than a build sheet matching original. 
You do see more examples of Lamborghini's, Ferrari's and the like mostly due to their popularity in the region and of course the concentration of wealth on the Right coast.  The mix of offerings reflects a different attitude toward collectible automobiles in the region. 

Where a 60's muscle car may bring six figures at Scottsdale the same car could bring much less at the spring event.  A smaller consignment pool and more variety has a lot to do with it.  At Scottsdale a featured original Hemi 'Cuda will likely have at least a dozen other customs that will benefit from a strong sale. 

If it's stuck between a couple of Lamborghini's and Charity customs it will likely suffer unless it's got a very strong provenance.  In other words the buyers have to know about it before it ever goes on sale. 

Jet powered Semi Trucks  aside, the offerings tend to be more practical than whimsical.  Emotion plays a much smaller role and the prices reflect that.  In short, the event is probably your best bet for getting a reasonable price on a collector vehicle at a Barrett-Jackson auction.

Still, if you can stomach Speed channel's coverage of the event you'll notice many of the lots being  sold to the same buyers.  Most of which happen to be well heeled old white men that have made Craig Jackson a millionaire in the past 15+ years of his control of the auction.

If Scottsdale is the example of wretched excess and you want to find an example of what the 1% consider a discount store, the Palm Beach event is a good place to start.