L.A. Auto Show: Q&A; with collector-car auctioneer Craig Jackson

For more than 40 years, Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. has been one of largest collector-car auction houses in the world.

Hundreds of the most sought-after, high-dollar automobiles cross their block in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Palm Beach, Fla.; Reno-Tahoe, Nev. and Las Vegas each year.

But Craig Jackson, company chief executive, says the upcoming show in Scottsdale could be their biggest show ever. About 1,400 cars are set to be sold, including a red 1954 Plymouth Belmont one-off concept car, a maroon 1929 Duesenberg SJ Lebaron “Sweep Panel” Dual Cowl Phaeton, and a cherry 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88.

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The auction, set for Jan. 12-19, will air live on national TV for nearly 40 hours on Fox Sports 1 and 2,  Fox Business and the National Geographic Channel. Most importantly, for the first time the event will air on the national Fox station on Saturday afternoon.

Here's an edited version of our interview at the L.A. Auto Show:

You’re going to be on Fox broadcast television. Is this the first time?

No collector car in history has ever been live on broadcast TV. It’s a big deal.

When I first brought the auction to  television in 1996, I wanted to bring the collector-car industry in front of a wider audience. Prior to that it was covered only by niche publications. We got into satellite television and were seen around the world. But now, anyone with a TV can watch us.

That is groundbreaking. We’re going to sell all our Americana cars on Fox.

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Why do you think this auction will appeal to a wider audience?

It’s great reality-TV. Every few minutes it’s a different saga. We don’t know how it’s going to end until the bidding is over. I mean, you put 5,000 bidders with a billion dollars of buying power in one room, fuel it with almost all no-reserve cars and create a party atmosphere that is Barrett-Jackson, crazy things can happen.

How about Fox Business? What’s the relevance there?

We’re like Wall Street for cars, You want to turn your car into cash? You want to know what it’s really worth? Bring it to our show.

I’ve never done well in the stock market. I’m glad I stuck to cars. With a car, I can look at it, touch it, evaluate it, and even if it goes down in value you still have a great car.

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Do you think car collecting is rising in popularity?

The world is much more mature when it comes to car collecting. It’s not just Europe and the U.S. anymore. It’s the Middle East, it’s Asia, there is a large contingent of collectors in South America. There’s just a worldwide demand.

Lucky for us, we have a little bit of everything that appeals to everybody.  


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