Barrett-Jackson rumblings: Trouble in Westworld?
It seems like the recent rumblings out of Westworld are failing to die down. A high profile ejection of a respected collector car expert, rumors of shill bidding on company-owned muscle cars, and cars not getting their fair amount of stage time have all generated headlines from this year's biggest auction event, the Barrett-Jackson auction at Scottsdale, and those don't even address the biggest gripe most people seem to have – the seemingly insane high bids. For years people have commented on the super high prices muscle cars have been bringing at the Arizona auctions every January. Some have speculated that there might be something shady behind these gavel values, while others have simply been amazed.
We've vacillated over individual vehicles that don't seem to be "worth" six (or seven!) figures, but in the end understand that "worth" is determined by the buyer. At this year's auction we had a lot of fun getting caught up in the show and seeing some of our favorite vehicles throughout history, up close and in the flesh. It was a very exciting week of muscle cars, race cars, classics and customs, with a bit of drama thrown in for good measure. You might recall the story about Keith Martin, the editor of Sports Car Market, who was allegedly ejected from the Barrett-Jackson media center and the premises for his reported sleight of the proceedings and of company President, Craig Jackson. Not one to pass judgment or take sides, we decided to stay out of it. But this story seems to have legs. Follow the jump to find out why.
[Source: The Four Wheel Drift]
We just received a tip from AB reader, Peter, who pointed us to a recent blog by Sam Barer over at The Four Wheel Drift. Sam put together an opinion piece on his own take of the ruckus and went a little deeper, claiming he had spoken to several auction insiders who apparently supported the notion that something was indeed fishy in the big top that is B-J. He even had spoken to a collector car judge whose own vehicle had allegedly been short-timed during the event, not getting its promised three minutes of stage time. As this is an exclusively No Reserve auction, sellers are understandably interested in getting a fair amount of time to get the highest possible bid for their vehicles. Barer's blog went on to speculate about other aspects of the B-J auction that were fairly inflammatory. We speak of this blog in the past tense because it was taken down.
A return visitor to the original link would find a retraction in place of the original article. As Barer explains in this new replacement blog, after some soul searching (and being contacted by B-J President Steve Davis) he decided to take it down. Barer claims he decided to post an explanation because, "after widespread rumors, many emails and telephone calls, I wish to set the record straight." Barer says he went too far and didn't balance the piece by getting B-J's side of the story. Although he sticks to his guns on the material he previously ran, he knows it's only fair to allow Davis to respond to the points made. Barer says he will give B-J and others more time to address the claims and if and when the responses come in, he may update the story. One thing we can count on is that this won't be the last we'll hear of the Arizona auctions, or Barrett-Jackson in particular.