I’m a self-confessed car nut. Anything with wheels, gears and an engine completely thrills me. Always has. As a kid growing up in rural Illinois, pushing metal tractors in the dirt, I have loved anything that would go.
When I made it out of the sandbox, September became my Christmas. That’s when all the new models came out. It was so exciting to see what shapes headlights would be, to find out if fins would be in. And the colors…man, the colors. The palest yellow, to the deep sheen of sea-blue turquoise, the high-gloss cherry red to the midnight black and chrome.
Fast forward about 50 years, and several incarnations of smart and safe family station wagons, sedans, SUVs and trucks owned… I’m still car crazy.
I’ve seen my dream car, a 1957 Thunderbird, but have yet to pull that beauty into my own driveway. The closest I’ve come is to simply admire her during hot summers on classic car cruise nights. Seven years ago, I flew out to the Holy Grail of car shows, the Barrett-Jackson® Auction in Scottsdale, AZ, with my brother-in-law. And soon, we’ll be going again to the 45th annual event.
This time, I’m making my trek out west a road trip. I’m loading up my truck and driving 1,500 miles through the Southland to the desert where I’ll meet up with my generation of family, as well as my son-in-law. He’s a car buff, too.
We’ve got a three-day ticket to the nine-day event (Jan. 23-31, 2016) and plan to pack in as much viewing as we can.
What started as a simple meeting between two car enthusiasts, Russ Jackson and Tom Barrett, in the early 1960s, has grown into the world’s most prestigious and anticipated collector car auctions and events, broadcast live on the Discovery and Velocity television channels.
Now I won’t have a bidder’s badge, VIP floor seats to the auction or be allowed behind-the-scenes access to the world’s most sought-after, unique and valuable automobiles on the block, but I will be in my glory as a spectator. Admiring the mastery of metal and machinery I’ve read about and seen from my recliner, on TV.
We’ll walk through the tents featuring cars from various decades, checking out engines and inspecting the handiwork, before witnessing the live auction. It’ll take some time, since there are literally thousands of cars to see.
I hope to lay eyes on the 1947 Talbot-Lago T-26 Worblaufen Cabriolet that’s been meticulously restored, keeping every authentic detail in mind. Then there’s the 1957 Chevy Bel Air, that’s only been painted once. I’d like to get under the hood of the 1956 Chrysler 300B Custom Hardtop, originally designed for NASCAR competitions and, of course, visit my dream car, the ’57 T-Bird.
Maybe we’ll rub shoulders with a few celebrities; meet and talk with Christy Lee of All Girls Garage or Wayne Carini from Chasing Classic Cars, an auto historian and master of restoration. Or be lucky enough to hang with the guys from Gas Monkey Garage.
If you’re a fan of iron, muscle and iconic craftsmanship, I highly recommend grabbing a ticket to the auction. It’s not just an event for dealers or the ultra-wealthy, general enthusiasts will be thrilled to see such automotive beauty in one place. But, if a trip isn’t in your immediate future, tune into Velocity and The Discovery Channel for live auction coverage, plus a taste of the excitement, and get your motor running.