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It’s Thursday night, January 21, 2010 and I’m standing on stage at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. Outside the massive West World tent compound that covers the auction, 80-mph winds are howling and rain is pouring down… sideways. We’re live on Speed TV and millions of home viewers are tuned in as the cameras catch the parade of collector cars crossing the auction block. I do my usual on-air commentary as the cars roll past. My ears are popping.
Unless you’re climbing in an airplane or ascending a steep elevation on ground, your ears don’t ordinarily do much popping. But when there’s a tornado warning in the immediate vicinity, the barometric pressure (atmosphere stack) goes crazy – and your ears do pop. And so it was on that wild Thursday night. Though the crowd, cars, and auction staff remained safe and dry, the same cannot be said for the Russo and Steele auction event that was held just a few miles away. The storm attacked two 800-foot tents and literally blew them away. Hundreds of collector cars were pummeled and soaked mercilessly but fortunately only a few minor personal injuries were reported. The carnage has been well reported so I won’t dwell on it. Suffice to say I share the heartache of knowing that more than 300 special cars were damaged.
So we were extremely fortunate to be spared a similar crisis at the Barrett-Jackson event. I do remember watching the beefy aluminum girders running along the ceiling of the massive auction tent cycle up and down. The on-site structural engineers claimed there could be as much as 7-feet of vertical movement before their yield point was reached… by all accounts the observed measurement was only 5-feet.
But as they say, the show must go on. Despite a few unsure moments when the event organizers considered a lockdown until the storm passed, it was quickly decided that the safest place to be was right where we were. So sellers (consignors), buyers (consignees) and all related personnel remained in place under the massive, undulating tent structure. The show did indeed go on.
The wild weather passed by Friday morning and by Sunday, the final day of the six day Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale sale, 68 million dollars had changed hands and in the process, hundreds of folks brought home new toys. Among them were numerous Mopars. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights. (Note: all published sale prices include 10-percent buyer’s commission)