Grin and Barrett-Jackson: Recollections of Sin City
A new year is finally here and I hope it is treating everyone well. I already know of a lot of things that are either planned or are already in the works in the world of cruising, car shows, street rodding or whatever you choose to call it. It's late February and we will be prowling the streets in our rides soon enough…and not a moment too soon I might add.
Just a few short weeks ago a mid-winter rite of passage of many of car aficionados had just concluded for this year. The Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction at Westworld in Scottsdale, Arizona is their biggest one of the auctions they host annually. I call it a rite of passage only in it gives many auto enthusiasts a chance to huddle around their TV's and marvel at the various types of vehicles that cross the stage during the event. One of the ways we as rodders cope with the cold winter months.
Back in October, 2016 I had the opportunity to attend an auto action hosted by Barrett-Jackson. It was at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and, although it was not nearly as large as the Scottsdale event, it was sizable nonetheless. It took me nearly an entire day to walk the grounds and see all the vehicles displayed for auction. There were other vehicles on display as well that were brought in for what I referred to as "buyer's bait" for the then upcoming January Scottsdale event that year.
When I did enter the spectator's area to watch the cars coming across the auction block up for bid I think I was more mesmerized by all the surrounding happenings as opposed to the cars at bid. Sure they were nice rides but as a people watcher and as someone to takes in the entire scope of an event of this magnitude it was far more interesting to me in this particular instance to just watch everything else. From the runners watching for bids to the people staging cars in three lanes prior to them going over the auction block to the multiple golf carts loaded with booze stocking the bar at the back at regular intervals it was something different from what I had witnessed at a car event before.
Another difference I picked up on was the car owners themselves. At the car shows and cruise nights and cruise-ins I have attended many of those had worked on their own vehicles and you could ask an owner a fairly technical question about their ride and the conversation would turn to camshafts, paint talk pertaining to base/clear or water base, those kinds of questions. The majority of those I met seemed more into spreadsheets and ledgers and was of the investor or collector type. This is not intended to belittle those folks as everyone's love of cars has its own merits but it was different from my own personal perspective. The kind of folks you would feel more comfortable talking about your investment portfolio as opposed to asking advice on setting valve lash on a small block Chevy.
That shows the diverse nature of today's car hobbyist. Some say that the big money and the pro built and reality show hoopla surrounding the hobby is hurting the backyard hobbyists. That's a matter of perspective. As someone who enjoys an event for what it is and isn't hell-bent on winning an award as a means to an end it doesn't bother me as much.I have had just as much fun at the big national events such as Barrett-Jackson or even Goodguys as much as I have enjoyed the local small town show where farm tractors outnumber the muscle cars, street machines and the rods and customs.
As time continues forth the car community continues to become more diverse. Some may not be as open minded to the many changes that happen yearly but the interest is there and that is what I took away from the event. I saw many vehicles that I may never see again in the physical sense as they are rare and sometimes one-of-a-kind rides. It was an experience that I was glad to be able to be a part of…even though I was just some guy on vacation redeeming a couple nights of free room and board at one of the Las Vegas Strip haunts that I won, ironically, at a local car show that year.
Car show season begins soon….as soon as we all thaw out!
Keep it real…and keep the rubber side down.
It wouldn't be a Barrett-Jackson event without a famous car! This 1976 AMC Pacer was the exact one Wayne and Garth drove while headbanging to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the 1992 film Wayne's World.
This 1969 Yenko Camaro is one of only 201 total that year that Pennsylvania Chevy dealer Don Yenko ordered through a Central Office Purchase Order (COPO). This particular model was one of 171 that were ordered with a four-speed and was a display only vehicle as far as I could tell at the event.
© All text and photos © 2019 Jay Horrocks Jr. unless otherwise specified.