Matt Stone
January 27, 2015

The second week of January is a magical time in the collector car world, as a half dozen collector car auction companies converge on Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona to sell off a couple thousand classic and collector cars to thousands of bidders, and for the viewing pleasure of hundreds of thousands of car hungry spectators. Many of those sales are of Ford, Ford-related, and Ford-powered machines. The official numbers, as we have them from Hagerty Collector Car Insurance, are a total of 2,304 cars sold out of 2,687 lots offered, representing an 86% sell-through rate, an average sale price of about $120,000, and a cumulative total sales figure, including buyer’s premiums, commissions and all fees, of $276,400,000. That’s just a squeedge over a quarter of a billion dollars spent in less than a week on everything from Fiats to Ferraris, Maseratis to Mustangs, and Hupmobiles to hot rods.

Barrett-Jackson remains the Big Kahuna among all of these sales, selling a record 1,612 cars, trucks, boats, planes, and bikes, ringing the register to the tune of $131,189,600, many of those lots for charity for which the company takes no buyers fee, no sales commission, and no other costs. So every penny goes to the select charity—impressive stuff. Among the much-anticipated highlights of this year’s Barrett-Jackson event was the sale of mega collector Ron Pratte’s seriously impressive collection, which included dozens of fabulous Fords. And not to be understated one bit was Ford’s donation of the first production 2015 Shelby GT350R to be sold for charity—in this case the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF). We won’t recount every notable sale, but some of the Ford highlights from Mr. Pratte’s collection include a menacingly black GT500KR prototype that Carroll Shelby spent a lot of time punishing and fine-tuning, the first production 2007 Shelby GT coupe, a very special 2006 Shelby GT-H equipped with a rare 5-speed manual trans (most GT-Hs were automatics), several mid-60s Shelby Mustangs, the third production Ford GT (putting up big numbers at $605,000) and a cool quartet of Boyd Coddington-built 1940 Fords of varying bodystyles, with every car being in immaculate condition and many with super low miles on their odos.

The most anticipated lot of the entire sale was the single remaining (out of only two built) 1967 Shelby Cobra SuperSnake. This ridiculous reptile was owned and driven by Shel himself for many years, and packs a twin-Paxton supercharged 427 backed by a C-6 automatic. Shelby claimed the car would easily hit 200 mph. Mr. Pratte bought the car a few years ago for $5 million and everyone wondered what it would bring today. The car hit the block and the bidding erupted early, but began to flag a little around the $4 million mark, with the seller’s reserve (estimated to be $5 million) limit clearly not yet met. Sale of the car was hammered “closed” and what many consider to be the ultimate street Cobra was pushed off the block as a no sale, with negotiations continuing between the seller and high bidders.

A few minutes later, company chairman Craig Jackson announced to the crowd that a deal had been struck, with the car sold to a new home at $5,115,000, a record price for a non Daytona coupe Cobra, and the highest sale of the entire Barrett-Jackson event. OK, time for a breath.

As if that wasn’t enough, just a few moments later, Ford President and CEO Mark Fields drove the Shelby GT350R on stage to be sold in benefit of JDRF. He was joined on stage by Ford sales exec Steve Ling, several Shelby American team members, and a cheering squad of kids representing the charity. The bidding opened at a half million and there was no flagging this time, as auctioneer Tom “Spanky” Assitter quickly cranked the bid up to $900,000, then handed his gavel to a nervously happy JDRF youngster to hammer the car sold at an even $1,000,000. That’s called raising money with style; good job Barrett-Jackson, Ford, and Shelby American.

We’ve all watched Barrett-Jackson on live TV, but nothing equates to the experience of being there. Ford adds a lot to that, with a serious and concerted marketing effort that really engages and connects with customers. Let’s also not forget that Shelby American revealed the new 2015 Shelby GT Mustang to the media, and the public, at this event. You can run a new Mustang GT through a quarter mile run on a chassis dyno, plus take part in the new product ride and drive (all the new Fords including the hottest Mustang and Focus models, with you at the wheel, through a gymkhana style road course) or just fill out a little marketing questionnaire and get yourself a free Mustang T-shirt. Barrett-Jackson hosts four events throughout the year (Scottsdale, Palm Beach, Reno, and Las Vegas) all sponsored by Ford, and you must, this year, make it a point to attend one live and in person. You’ll be overwhelmed, you’ll see great cars and auction action, and have a blast surrounded by great cars and lots of great car people.

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