In case you're unfamiliar with the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auctions, they are the car lover's dream and for those who can afford to bid, and win - perhaps a dream come true!
It's America's premier stage for the most sought-after and prestigious cars, a world class auction that has been raising the bar for 46 years. Not only are the auctions televised nationally and worldwide, but 500,000 people pass through the four annual events which take place every year in Scottsdale AZ, Palm Beach FL, Mohegan Sun CT and Las Vegas NV.
This is my second year in attendance and it did not disappoint. I live within a stone's throw of WestWorld where the Scottsdale event takes place every year in January, so it's a piece of cake for me to go. Many fly or drive in from all over the country and the world to visit this big-name car attraction.
Car parking is sprawled over acres of flattened desert, so if you don't want to wear yourself out before you've even made it to the event, there are a variety of eclectic tricycle carriages that will take you from your car to the entrance. This was the first of several thrill rides that I experienced that day!
Upon entering the event, modern car makers showcase their new state-of-the art models. Power boats and other luxury lifestyle toys are displayed beneath crystal chandeliers! The Exhibitor Marketplace sells everything from leather jackets to Barrett-Jackson branded clothing, jewelry, art and local south-western artifacts. Cars are not the only thing to be auctioned at Barrett-Jackson, collectible "automobilia" also plays a role! Something for everyone, including those not rolling in the big money!
But let's talk about cars... immense halls exhibit multiple rows of "Salon Showcase" vehicles. These are the creme de la creme, exquisitely maintained or restored gleaming examples of their class. They are roped off to discourage the temptation to touch, stroke and caress!
I make a bee line to the British section, it's a combination of natural-instinct and expensive taste! Husband informs me that whilst I look very nice by the Aston Martin, being British is the closest I will get to this car anytime soon. Hmm, this car could make or break a marriage!
Outside, monstrous tents protect hundreds of other cars ready for auction. Being of a less noble status than their brothers in the Salon there are no ropes separating these cars from fingerprints or smudges, you can get up close and personal. Let's do that...
The Volkswagen Camper van! This beauty is the picture of health, clearly in better condition than the one I had back in 1979!
The picture below is of me and my "fried out kombi" somewhere in Germany near Baden-Baden having driven the Autobahn through snow and sleet. I purchased it second hand and very well used, but given that it was German it would probably go on forever! It made me feel like a big girl, rather like how I felt with my first SUV in America! I had a thing about German cars back then, in fact German anything: wiener schnitzel, men, skiing in the Black Forest!
At the time I was dating the Head Chef from the hotel I worked at in England, who conveniently happened to be German! For the three years we were together we would visit his family in Baden-Baden, take the ferry from Dover across to France, and drive across Europe. The heating in the van didn't work, hence the yeti boots and puffer coat, neither did 3rd gear! You had to rev up the engine sufficiently to go straight from 2nd gear to 4th gear! Despite this, we made it up a mountain in the Black Forest of Germany to go skiing and back to England in one piece!
Barret-Jackson brings back fond memories as you wander the aisles of old relics! I told you I had a thing for German cars - let me tell you how much of a thing!
In my late teens and early twenties, I had a total of three Volkswagen beetles in succession. The first was green, then orange and finally this yellow one pictured above. This was the newest of the models before they stopped making them, it was all about those big round lights on the back for me! Except for this beetle, my others had been left hand drive, the opposite to the norm in England. They were a steal to buy as most Brits didn't want to deal with the confusion since we were still in the era of the stick shift. I'm ambidextrous, so it matters not to me which side of the car I drive it from!
I sold this beetle and with the proceeds bought a Volkswagen Golf GTI Cabriolet! Yes, that thing for German cars continued, but now my flamboyant side was kicking in!
Speaking of flamboyant, we stumbled across Sonny and Cher's 1966 Convertible Mustangs. I also had the good fortune to chat with the chap who used to own them before he signed them over to Barrett-Jackson. As he was dusting them off he told us that the VIN numbers were just one digit removed since they had been originally purchased at the same time. They both had color coordinated suede panels along the sides and an overabundance of faux fur which lined the interiors as well as the trunks! They'd been customized by George Barris, known as the king of Hollywood car customization and famous for his paint jobs which consisted of 40 coats of paint lacquer. He also did the Bat Mobile and Knight Rider!
This is the inside of Sonny's Mustang, and as you can see it takes faux fur to a whole new level!
Outside, food concessions are aplenty, from giant roasted prehistoric turkey legs, burgers, sausages the length of English cucumbers and fries served up in cardboard boxes. It's a combo of carnival food and well... general rubbish. It sure does smell good despite the obvious health risk of all this food lying around in the open air, basking under the warm sun acting as a fly deterrent to the crowds enjoying their day out! The manhandling of food with bare hands by some of the concession workers is shamelessly executed in front of customers despite their blackened fingernails. Frankly I would feel happier eating food that had been run over by one of those salon cars indoors!
Taking a trip through the Baha Desert in a 707hp Concept Jeep Trailcat! A couple of high jumps over blind drops and enough hair pin bends to make a Brazilian Blowout turn curly, I crashed into the boulders and rolled that Jeep countless times, after which this girl needed an alcoholic beverage to calm the nerves! Oh, did I mention it was a simulator ha ha!
Last but not least the thrill rides by professional drivers taking you for a spin... literally, along with the addition of some burning rubber, wheel spinning and a whole lot of kicked up desert dust!
There's plenty more about Barrett-Jackson, like bidding on Aston Martins for example - next year perhaps! There are packages available, some costing over $1000 which allow access to everything including the opening Gala. But for anyone who enjoys a trip down memory lane, an afternoon meandering the rows of pristine collectors' cars is an enjoyable one to say the least.
Here is a link to my Barrett-Jackson blog post from 2017! This year's event is going on through Sunday 21st January.
Thank you for stopping by!
Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
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Click the picture below to see my interview with the lovely Jonet Wooten from Fabulously Chic Over 50