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B-Js and Big Bucks in the desert

B-Js and Big Bucks in the desert

7.2.05. It was one of those “shudda been there” events. Of course, now that they televise it live in the US, you don’t actually have to be there but like drag racing on TV, auctions are events to be attended not merely watched. American auctions are especially exciting and not at all stuffed-shirt like their British counterparts. Three-ringed circus comes to mind and this year’s Barrett-Jackson, their 34th in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona over January 25-30th, was a Dusey to use classic terminology.

Apparently, this was B-J’s most successful auction to date with record-breaking sales in numerous categories. Total sales were an estimated $61,687,526 compared to $38.5 million last year. And that was for a mere 878 vehicles.  More than 4,286 punters, sorry, prospective buyers, bellyed up $350 each for the privilige of bidding—sometimes for great and rare automobiles, sometimes for undisguised tat.

In the past, muscle cars and hot rods have seemed to be the flavour of the month, but this year saw a trend toward customs. The big money, $3,240,000, to be exact, went for a one-off concept car. Designed by Harley Earl, the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 was a “Olds-man” version of the similarly fiberglass-bodied ’53 Corvette but with the heavier Olds’ wide-mouth grille.  $3.24 mil’ set a new record for the B-Js, besting a 15-year record of $2 million for a Hispano-Suiza. My how times have changed.

Top seller was this rather dull, though significant 1954 Oldsmobile F-88

Boyd Coddington’s name is somewhat synonymous with Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale and a number of his creations have fared well in the past. But this year there was definitely a buzz with Boyd’s name almost becoming the vernacular to describe highly modified customs and rods.

CheZoom made a cool $365,000

One Boyd-built creation that far exceeded expectations was the Thom Taylor-designed CheZoom, built in 1992 to resemble a ’57 Chevy.  CheZoom blasted over the podium at $365,000. Of course, you probably couldn’t build it for that these days. However, it was Boyd’s Viper V10-powered “Whathehaye,” a play on the classic Delahaye, that blew “everybodyawhaye” with a staggering sale at $540,000.

Boyd built Whatthehaye sold for $540,000

Moving right along from the “Boydmobiles,” there was the NO RESERVE 1938 Rolls Royce Phantom III hot rod. Powered by a slightly smokey 454, it looked like a retired hot rodded hearse. The bidder’s wife/ladyfriend/whatever egged him on, it seemed against no other bidders, to a staggering $172.800. There’s no accounting for taste.

Beautiful 1953 Buick Skylark Custom Convertible sold for $86,400

For 30 grand less you could have picked up a cherry 1953 Buick Skylark convertible with 46K original miles. But then an Allard J2X roadster went for $216K.

Allard J2X Le Mans factory lightweight with 331 Hemi power - one of nine built

 For $64.8K you could have had yourself a nice Deuce hiboy Roadster with a Chrysler Hemi—the parts alone to built it would almost cost you that. However, a Boydster II Roadster painted blue with flames fetched only $73,440 and an all-new Boydster III fetched only $97,200. Again, something you couldn’t recreate for twice that.  

Boyd suspension and wheels feature in this aluminium-bodied Chevy roadster - a "street rod of the year" finalist in 2004.  It fetched $216,000

Does this lack of interested in hot rods indicate a trend?  Difficult to tell. None of the hot rods up for sale had particular historic value, most of them were neither good looking or professionally built—lending them some provenance. Once again, the right cars fetched the right price.

There were a few “left field” bids that created a buzz but there was an awful lot of old tosh. Oh. And the lowest sale of the 4-day extravaganza was $2500 for a 1964 Honda Benly Touring motorcycle—there were two—they just haven’t reached their peak yet.  Maybe next year.

1936 Chrysler Airflow with V10 Viper power went for $550,800

Custom 1932 Ford Roadster was originally built in 1952 - again features Ardun heads. It sold for $98,280

1969 Baldwin Motion Phase III Corvette with 427 + 4-speed - one of six built, sold for $226,800

Original and immaculate Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda sold for a staggering $329,400

Lincoln Zephyr Coupe with V-12 Lincoln power sold for $432,000 - winner of "America's most beautiful Street Rod" award 

1956 Chevy Nomad custom "Realmad" sold for $324,000

How about a Superbird for a mere $307,800

Track style aluminium-bodied roadster equipped with Ardun Ford V8 sold for $131,760 

Story: Elliot Jacobs
Photos: Barrett Jackson

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