10 of the most expensive vehicles sold at the 2020 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction
Money in the Desert
Every January, a horde of gearheads descend upon the Phoenix area to revel in the glorious madness that are collector car auctions. With bid catchers down in the audience braying like sunburned donkeys and auctioneers up on the block whipping the crowd into a frenzy, attending Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale is one part car show, one part auction house, and one part theatre. It is magnificent.
Your author was on the ground this year, watching as Ford GTs sold for dizzying amounts and witnessing the power of Paul Walker’s name. The latter, incidentally, was worth about an extra $200,000 … but we’ll get to that in a second.
This is the 49th year for Barrett-Jackson’s annual soirée in the desert, with the whole of 2020 being wrapped in the too-perfect marketing angle of the ‘Road to 50’. Next year’s bash should be one for the record books as they celebrate their quinquagenary.
As it stands, this year was touted as the event’s largest docket ever, with over 1900 vehicles crossing the auction stage over the span of a week (you can bet they’ll be pushing for 2000 consignments on their 50th). Those whips sold for more than $129.7 million, while over 1200 pieces of automobilia brought in more than $3.7 million. A staggering $7.625 million was raised through the sale of nine charity vehicles, bringing the total amount sold on the Barrett-Jackson block to more than $141 million USD.
While many, like your author, are in attendance to gawk at the cars, there is a healthy contingent with the means to splash house-sized coin on the car of their (or their spouse’s) dreams. Here are the top 10 non-charity vehicles that sold during this year’s Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction, including the 10% buyer’s fee.
2017 Ford GT (Lot #1392) – $1,485,000
Gearheads watched carefully a few years ago to see how Ford would handle their vetting process that granted well-heeled Blue Oval fans the opportunity to buy the all-new Ford GT. Part of that deal, you’ll recall, was a stipulation that the car couldn’t change hands for a set amount of time. Now that’s elapsed, all eyes were on a pair of GTs at Barrett-Jackson to see how much cheddar they’d fetch when being sold by a private individual.
Quite a lot, as it turns out. Stickering for $450,000 when new, the seller turned a nearly $1 million profit in the span of three years. Plus, they had a Ford GT in which to drive around during the time. As I’ve always said, you can’t do 200mph or a smoky burnout with an investment portfolio. The car came out of the personal collection of a retired Vice President of Ford Motor Company.
2017 Ford GT (Lot #1417) – $1,182,500
Here is where we learn one of the basic tenets of automotive sales: a polarizing colour can make or break a deal. Despite having more miles and options than the red GT, this Verde Mantis example brought about a quarter million dollars less than its more traditionally painted brother. In fact, the paint itself was a $30,000 option, plus the $15,000 extended carbon fiber package and $25,000 dark energy interior package. Those 20-inch exposed carbon wheels were a $15k add-on as well. When viewed through that lens, the buyer got a much better deal.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 COPO (Lot #1409) – $1,094,50
In case you’ve forgotten, COPO stands for Central Office Production Order and a method used by dealers during the sixties that allowed them to create high-performance vehicles that were not available elsewhere. This example is car #59 of the 69 ZL1 COPO Camaros Chevrolet produced for the 1969 model year. This is the only ZL1 ordered with an NC8 chambered exhaust.
2019 McLaren Senna (Lot #1393) – $946,000
When an automotive company names its hypercar after a racing great, you know they’ve a raft of confidence in its ability. Powered by a mid-mounted, twin-turbo 4.0L V8 delivering 789hp and 590lb.-ft, the Senna’s power is maximized by active front and rear aero aids plus a massive rear spoiler and competition-type brakes. It is capable of 0-100km/h sprints in 2.8 seconds, a 9.9 second quarter-mile, and a 338km/h top speed. This Senna was one of only 500 built.
1963 Aston Martin DB5 (Lot #1403) – $660,000
If you’re bent on acting out all your deepest James Bond fantasies, you could do worse than this immaculate DB5. Sure, there aren’t any machine guns behind the headlights but it’s fitted with its original 400/1307 engine and ZF 5-speed gearbox. About $75k was spent a couple of years ago on mechanical and cosmetic work. Only 886 DB5s were made and an estimated 320 still survive. This is believed to be #52.
2003 Saleen S7 (Lot #1397) – $467,500
Believe it or not, the S7 was introduced 20 years ago during the Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca Raceway. This 2003 Saleen S7 is 03-21, denoting the 21st S7 built in 2003. As one of just 78 cars built in total, including 15 track-bound “R” Models, 03-21 is rarer still as one of four naturally-aspirated, 550hp examples equipped with the Saleen Competition Package. That bit of kit endowed the 427ci V8 engine with an uprated camshaft, upgraded intake manifold and exhaust, and a reprogrammed ECU.
2005 Ford GT (Lot #1375) – $451,000
No restrictions bound the original buyers of the 2005-2006 Ford GT, so owners were free to profiteer as they saw fit. Values have bounced around in the intervening decade-and-a-half, seeming to have settled at around $400k for a well-sorted example. This one has the distinction of having silver stripes with its Midnight Blue paint, one of only two cars built in a colour combo unapproved by Ford. Allegedly, the original owner, a person of some influence at Ford, snuck into the design centre in Dearborn and helped apply the stripe after hours with the assistance of Steve Saleen. That story alone is worth the cash.
2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition (Lot #1353.1) – $440,000
Ford built 4038 of these blue-collar supercars, and fewer than 400 with this Gulf-inspired livery. This paint denotes it as a Heritage Edition GT, sporting a nod to the 1968 and ’69 Le Mans-winning GT40 race cars. This one is finished in Heritage Blue clear coat with Epic Orange racing stripes and has less than 4000 kilometres on the clock.
2005 Ford GT VIN 003 (Lot #1396) – $440,000
The VIN of this GT will not have escaped your attention, as #003 was the lowest 2005 sequence number available to the public. This GT has crossed the Scottsdale block at Barrett-Jackson in the past, most recently in 2015 when this year’s seller paid $605,000 for it during billionaire Ron Pratte’s mystifying decision to sell his collection. Painted in Quicksilver with no stripes, the dashboard is personally signed by none other than Carroll Shelby. In case you’re wondering, it sold at the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach event in 2006 for $572,400 with those proceeds going to charity.
1966 Chevrolet Corvette Custom Convertible (Lot #1454) – $440,000
This black Vette might look like a C2 from the outside but underneath it sports all-new hardware. A GM LT1 6.2-liter V8 engine producing a factory-rated 450hp paired with a GM 4L65E 4-speed automatic transmission hustles this beauty down the road. Those side pipes sounded like thunder in the staging lanes, while the paint had a shine so deep it was like gazing into the abyss.