The Road to Barrett-Jackson 2017
A newbie’s experience at the extravaganza that is perhaps the most popular automotive auction on the planet
Barrett-Jackson has kind of a love-it or hate-it reputation. Those people in the “love it” category enjoy watching (in person or on television over an entire weekend) and seeing what the classic and collector cars sell for, while wishing they had the money to bid on the precious iron crossing the auction block. But those in the “hate it” camp resent what the high-rollers and their water-cooled checkbooks do to the average cost of lesser cars. We’ve all experienced seeing used musclecar prices skyrocket overnight after a weekend of auction action, as everyone with, say, a 1965 Mustang 6-cylinder, sees a low-mileage, documented Shelby G.T. 350 sell for big dollars and automatically think their more common model must be worth a lot more money.
Regardless of what camp you’re in, you should put it on your automotive bucket list to attend Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale (Arizona) auction every January, if only to witness the spectacle first-hand. Plus, it makes for a fantastic car show, with multi-million-dollar exotics mixed in with $15,000 pickups and everything in-between.
Your author had been meaning to go for years but something always came up to become a bigger priority. When Marcus Anghel told us about the Boss 302 seminar and open house he was having on auction weekend, at his Scottsdale home and shop (http://www.mustangandfords.com/events/1701-boss-302-seminar-at-anghel-restorations/), in addition to a secret unveiling with Shelby American on Thursday of the auction, we decided to make it this time. A call to Jason Camp in Ford Communications netted us a 2017 Fusion Sport to make the road trip (of course, I tried for a new Ford GT or Focus RS—“Yeah, sorry pal, but no!)” and it made me understand why Mustang Group Director Henry De Los Santos loves his Fusion so much. But more on that below.
Normally, the Arizona desert in January is dry and nice, but this year it was pouring rain in buckets and uncharacteristically chilly, but that didn’t dampen the attendance or enthusiasm, at least that we could tell. As usual, there were a lot of Mustangs up for sale and some just being displayed in vendor booths (like Gateway Bronco’s barn-find G.T. 350 that we showed you at Carlisle last summer). Major League slugger and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson brought a bunch of cars from his collection to sell, including a gorgeous black 1969 Boss 429, and there was a whole row of significant Shelbys near it.
So check out the photo gallery for all the Mustangs we saw, among other points of interest. If you’re planning on going, know that the best deals happen early, on Thursday and Friday, and Saturday is an absolute zoo when the high-dollar cars roll across the block and the big-money crowd packs the hall. Sunday is less crowded but still frenetic—you can get caught up in the excitement on either day, as people are constantly outbidding each other between puffs on expensive cigars and lots of sips of premium booze, driving the prices through the roof. Again, bucket list stuff.
2017 Fusion V6 Sport
Our chariot for the race through the desert was a 2017 Fusion V6 Sport in Ruby Red with a Dark Earth Gray interior, a 2.7L GTDI Ecoboost engine, and 6-speed automatic transmission, and it was a fantastic car. I can see now why Fusion owners like the cars so much, and this one really hauled the mail in style and comfort. A nice touch that I’ve never experienced was the optional Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, which slows you down and speeds you up depending on the proximity of other traffic, kind of a precursor to fully autonomous driving. I refuse to use the Enhanced Active Park Assist though—c’mon, if you can’t parallel park a car you have NO reason to be behind the wheel!
The 325hp (380 lb-ft of torque!) twin-turbo V6 and all-wheel-drive platform turns this normally sedate family sedan into a real hot rod, and if you absolutely have to have an automatic trans, the paddle-shifted 6-speed in this car is a good way to go. It was raining nearly the entire time we were in the car (especially on the way home Sunday, which was a deluge from Palm Springs all the way to Los Angeles) so we don’t have any performance numbers, but this isn’t a car you’d take to the drag strip anyway.
Our only “issue” with the Fusion Sport involved the optional 19-inch Continental “summer” tires. They did a great job, but an invisible, water-filled pothole near our hotel split the sidewall, prompting an Uber ride to get to the Shelby unveiling in time, and installing the space saver in a Kwik-E-Mart parking lot later that afternoon. The tire is so new to the model line that Rodeo Ford in Phoenix didn’t have one, and after learning there were none available anywhere in the region, they installed a standard tire from another Fusion with 19s.
The MSRP for this car is $33,475 and the total price with options is $41,545. If you have enough kids that a Mustang doesn’t make for a practical family car, the Fusion Sport is an excellent choice.
Return of the Shelby Super Snake
With Mustang owners begging for a new GT500 from Ford but nothing available or even promised yet, Shelby stepped in to answer the demand by reviving the Super Snake name. The new Super Snake is based on the Mustang GT but with a supercharged 670hp 5.0L and a limited run of 500 cars to be sold. Read all about it in Mark Houlahan’s review on Mustang-360.com (http://www.mustangandfords.com/news/1701-shelby-american-announces-50th-anniversary-super-snake/).
The entire Shelby team unveiled the Super Snake in front of a packed, standing room-only crowd in Ford’s display right inside the main door of the auction, to cheers, hoops, and hollers. Barrett-Jackson head honchos Craig Jackson and Steve Davis were even present and said a few words about their long-standing relationship with Carroll Shelby and his various companies—that’s them in the foreground of the photo here, with Aaron Shelby right behind Davis’s head. Also visible is Shelby International Co-CEO Neil Cummings, Shelby’s new president (but familiar friend of Mustang-360 readers) Gary Patterson, and Senior Designer Vince Laviolette. To Vince’s left, barely visible, are Jenny Shreeves (Executive Director of the Carroll Shelby Foundation) and Tracey Smith (SAI’s EVP of Licensing & Media Relations).
Gateway Bronco in St. Louis had a vendor booth in the middle of the action and presented “The First Bronco,” a blue 1966 prototype that belonged to Carroll Shelby. Gateway’s owner Seth Burgett said, “The story begins in 1966 with the construction of a teal green, 6-cylinder half-cab prototype Bronco at Ford’s pre-production plant in Allen Park, MI. The truck soon moved to the Shelby American Los Angeles Facility and underwent a few changes, namely a V8 transplant and a new red and white paint scheme. Ultimately, it became the first known Bronco as well as the first with a V8 and the first with Sport Trim. The prototype Bronco was under Carroll Shelby’s ownership as part of Shelby American and Hi Performance Motors before making its way to Christmas Mountains Land & Cattle Co.’s ranch near Terlingua, Texas. Harold Wynn, a ranch hand, frequently serviced this work truck at the local Ford dealer in Alpine, TX. This dealership was owned by Vincent “Vinnie” Yakubanski, the second owner of the prototype Bronco.” Yakubanski had the Bronco painted blue in the 1970s, and sold it to Gateway in October 2016.
Right next to the prototype Bronco was this yellow 1969 “Boss Bronco prototype” that was built by Kar-Kraft Engineering (you know, the guys who built Boss 429 Mustangs). We first found out about the truck when CarTech books editor Wes Eisenschenk owned it. About the vehicle, Wes told us, “While researching for the Kar-Kraft: Race Cars, Prototypes and Muscle Cars of Ford's Specialty Vehicle Program book project, an inventory report from May 1969 was discovered. On it were over 50 vehicles that had traversed through the fabled K-K facilities. Using nothing more than Google I ran each VIN through its search engine and only three vehicles returned results, two Boss9 cars and a Ford Bronco.
“The Bronco had been listed on eBay roughly 11 months before. I emailed the seller who had been secured to sell the vehicle for a friend. The truck was pulled from the eBay listing and sold privately. The seller would only tell me that the truck had been sold to a police officer in a certain Washington state town. Within minutes I was on that town’s webpage and emailing the police chief. What transpired next was pure luck. The owner of the Bronco was interested in selling the truck to liquidate some inventory. Needless to say I quickly jumped on the opportunity and never uttered the word Kar-Kraft during the negotiations. I didn't need to. Having all the documents and historical imagery it was a piece of cake identifying this truck as the one and only Kar-Kraft Special Bronco, otherwise known as the Boss Bronco. The truck now resides in a prominent collection featuring rare Ford automobiles.”