Arizona Auction Week is a marathon, not a sprint. I often reminded myself of this notion last week as I made my way around the Phoenix metropolitan area to and from Barrett-Jackson, RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams, and Worldwide Auctioneers classic car sales from January 22-30.
It was close to a marathon for me as I walked 26.0 miles on 62,252 steps. I guess I was 385 yards short of a full marathon. Regardless, this week my surgically repaired ankle and foot are dealing with the repercussions of a lot of walking in dress shoes.
Barrett-Jackson’s collector car auction at WestWorld in Scottsdale ran from January 22-30 and it’s the granddaddy of them all in Arizona Auction Week. High attendance, national TV broadcast, and a lot of celebrities.
The media center at WestWorld was my hub for the week and I felt like I could claim residency there. I wouldn’t see my family a lot during the week, but they’re very understanding. They’ve dealt with auction week before during my tenure at Barrett-Jackson, but it’s tough for all of us. My dog wasn’t happy either, and couldn’t really understand my absence.
Daily coverage of the auction, lots of typing and coffee were the proper formula for a successful auction stretch, but this time it was different because I was traversing the Valley of the Sun and hitting up three other collector car auctions as well.
Around 8 a.m. on Tuesday, January 26 I made my way to WestWorld for Barrett-Jackson and set up camp, i.e. my laptop and Red Bull F1 messenger bag, but after 90-minutes I am off to the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa for the Bonhams Scottsdale auction preview.
It’s a strong docket with a dozen Aston Martins and the dream car from my youth, the Lamborghini Countach. I’m a proper 80’s kid and a Countach poster was on my wall for a long time. It’s a good day when you get to see one of your automotive heroes. As much as an inanimate object can be a hero.
My stay was short, maybe two-hours, and then it was back to WestWorld for proper collector car auction coverage. By 5 p.m. my Barrett-Jackson coverage for the day was winding down and I headed to Tempe for Worldwide’s Scottsdale auction. I excuse Worldwide Auctioneers’ geography issues under the same logic as the New York Jets playing in New Jersey.
Their docket is legit with a good mix of eras, makes, and models. What stood out was the sale of a Duesenberg Model J-432 engine for $775,000. I understand the scarcity and intrinsic value of anything associated with Duesenberg, but can’t you get a whole Duesenberg car for $2 million? It’s thoughts like these that remind me why I didn’t study economics in college.
Back at WestWorld on Wednesday morning for auction coverage. At 5:15 p.m. I’m in my Mini Cooper heading to RM Sotheby’s auction at the Arizona Biltmore. A solid docket, focused heavily on post-1950s European sports cars. It was a personal pleasure to see a 1987 Porsche 959 and the 1988 Cizeta-Moroder V16T owned by the “Father of Disco.”
With quad pop-up headlights and a V16 engine, the Cizeta-Moroder V16T will always remind me of the Hunter S. Thompson quote from Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, “A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”
The evening winds down with thoughts of Hunter S. Thompson running through my head as I head home on the 51 freeway for some rest. Moving forward, I won’t have multiple auctions per day. I can stay at WestWorld and keep working toward proper collector car auction coverage.
By Thursday the auction at Barrett-Jackson starts to collect momentum as more high-end collectible cars cross the stage. Any notions of rest and spending quality time with my family over the next few days are a fool’s errand.
On Saturday I headed WestWorld early and knocked out some work before noon. My family would be attending, and I wanted to spend a little time them, see the auction and relax a bit.
I lucked out that my wife likes cars, and my son is developing an interest, possibly from my work or from Gran Turismo 5. We walked the main pavilion with me as tour guide. I pointed out interesting cars and we spent a lot of time at the Corvette display admiring the new Z06.
For the first time in a week, I had my family with me and a semblance of normalcy. We toured the tents, met up with a former coworker, and caught up about the auction and life in general.
I love my work and my career. I get to cover collector auctions for a living, and I have a gilded professional experience, or as my son says, “the cool job.” I have an understanding and patient family that allows me to chase my dream career as an automotive writer.
Arizona Auction Week was long — and worthwhile.