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Barrett Jackson and Online Car Auctions


The Barrett Jackson Auto Auction, the infamous Arizona car auction event of the year, has led to an increasing number of car aficionados looking to buy or sell their own car in an online car auction venue.

In 1960, in the desert of Scottsdale, Arizona, Russ Jackson and Tom Barrett met over an advertised car for sale.

While they did not complete the sale, a friendship was born that lives on in their legacy today.

Seven years later, Barrett and Jackson held a fundraiser for local charities by holding a local car show.

This set the wheels in motion for them to start preparations for their first Arizona car auction in 1971.

They featured the first “Classic Car” auction and the stars were vehicles from their own private collections. Barrett’s Mercedes 770 Phaeton sold for $153,000 turning collectors’ heads and stealing industry headlines. It also threw the pair into international prominence.

During the 1980’s, the emergence of the car collector industry literally sprung out from nowhere, with record participation and record prices. The friend’s continued to set the standard for excellence, with Barrett bringing only the finest cars and earning the reputation as the “Grandfather of the Collector Car Industry” while Jackson collected restored cars for the auction. It was during this time frame that Jackson brought his sons, Brian and Craig to the team.

Russ Jackson passed away in 1993, and his son Brian in 1995. Tom Barrett, who had retired in 1997, passed away just a few years ago in 2004. It is now Craig Jackson running this horse and pony show, and just has his predecessors, leading the way in innovation, techniques and sales.

Speedvision began airing portions of the Arizona car auction in 1997, and at the same time introduced a new concept to buyers- live time Internet bidding! Last year, the Barrett Jackson Auto Auction sold a total of 1,250 cars with a mind numbing $112 million dollars in sales!

In 2002 Barrett Jackson took their car auction across the country to Palm Beach, Florida, where they will have their Sixth annual Palm Beach Car Auction on March 26-30 2008.

The two men single-handedly revolutionized car auctions and Craig Jackson led even further in the introduction of the online car auction.

While deep pockets are essentially mandatory to participate with Barrett Jackson, online car auctions are now a popular way for the “common” man and woman to buy and sell their cars.

Before we all jump on the bandwagon and hit Ebay Motors trying to find our own “deal”, there are several things to keep in mind, as buyers, and sellers when using an online auction site.

Tips for Sellers

When selling your car at an online auction site, there are several factors you need to consider. Not only will they help you get a better price for you car, it will also help protect yourself.

  • Have the VIN and detailed carfax report available to prospective bidders. It is a wise idea to go ahead and put the VIN in the auction listing, as you are almost certain to receive requests for it.
  • Photos! LOTS of photos! Inside, outside, front seat, back seat, motor, trunk, tires, inspection sticker, VIN number, odometer. Get the “picture”? Yes, even include photos of dents, dings, scratches, all the flaws too! If it’s something someone would look at in person to buy the car, you need to have a GOOD photo of it in your auction! Make sure your car is clean. No one wants to buy a dirty one! If you are not capable of taking good photos, find someone who is!
  • Sound exited about your car! Even if it’s a 1972 Ford Pinto piece of rusted tin, make it sound appealing…maybe “Great Starter car for New Driver!”
  • Don’t lie about the condition though. While you don’t have to reveal every flaw, its in your best interest to reveal anything that may detour a buyer- check engine light, drive train problems, mileage…you get the picture!
  • Competitive Pricing. When using an online auction, no matter what the item- whether it’s a toaster or a Ferrari Enzo, know what its worth! Sure, you can start the bidding at a penny if you so desire, but a good rule of thumb (and one I follow religiously) is NEVER start the auction at a price LOWER than what you can live with. It will be your luck (and mine too) that the car I listed with a starting bid of $99 – actually sold for that price!
  • Put a sign on it! Almost everyone these days is capable of printing a sign from their computer with the website address of where their car is being sold! Buyers can go look at the car when its convenient to them, and not have to worry about interrupting your dinner, or shower- just to find out its not what they want or need. Not to mention, if they know its online, they can make the reasonable assumption millions of people are looking at it and might buy it out from under them, thus causing them to move a little quicker than they otherwise might!
  • Maintenance Records are important! You need to have every piece of paper regarding any work that was done to the car – oil changes, brake work, new tires, repairs, body or paint work, etc!

Tips for Buyers

Know the Seller! Does the site offer the ability to view a sellers feedback? I know, as an Ebay seller myself, my feedback is invaluable to me! I work hard to please my customers. Whether it is the $300 PSP I just sold, or a .99 cent dress pattern, I want them all to be happy!

  • Ask the Seller questions! If they are legitimate and serious, they will get back to you within a reasonable timeframe. This will also let you know how knowledgeable they are about the car.
  • How does the seller want payment? On Ebay, it against TOS (Terms of Service) to state cash only. But that does not mean that a scammer will try to get around it. While Paypal is not recommended for such large purchases, you do want a paper trail. Cashiers checks are the best option for this type of transaction. Even better, credit card (but again, this would require the seller to have a merchant account). I do not (can I say that enough times?) recommend Paypal for an ebay motors transaction!
  • When does the Seller require payment? If he insists on immediate upfront payment, the odds of you seeing your car, or money are slim to none. While you do want to pay promptly, and make sure you maintain good communication with the seller, if they insist on payment the day or the day after the auction ends, it’s a big (huge, flaming red on fire) warning sign!
  • Is there a return policy? What is the shipping rate if you cannot pick it up in person? Does the seller have a transport company chosen already, or are you required to make those arrangements yourself?

Online Car Auctions are fun! Just remember to protect yourself! So you may not have $4 million to drop on a Vintage Classic car in pristine condition, but that doesn’t mean the online car auctions are only for the wealthy! Be safe, do your research, on the car and on the seller. Find a car you love. And most of all… HAVE FUN!

Scheduled Barrett Jackson Events for 2008

  • 37th Annual Scottsdale Arizona Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction Event- January 12-20, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • 6th Annual Palm Beach, Florida Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event March 26-30, South Florida Expo Center – Palm Beach, Florida


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