Auction attracts auto lovers

Everyone from serious auto collectors to families snapping pictures of their dream cars packed the OC Fair & Event Center on Saturday for the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction.

During its inaugural Orange County auction last year, Barrett-Jackson — which bills its events as the World's Greatest Car Collector Auctions — sold more than $15 million in cars. This weekend, organizers said they expected 70,000 people to attend the three-day event.

On Friday, more than $3.3 million in cars were auctioned, but the heavy hitting started Saturday. Bidders had a chance to buy rare collectibles like a 1968 Shelby GT-350 Mustang and a 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Berlinetta.

Robert DeMars owns an automobile appraising company based in Palm Springs that has offices everywhere from Miami to Milan. He said he has been coming to Barrett-Jackson events since 1971 — the first year the company hosted auctions.

"They put on a very nicely run event," DeMars said. "It's nice that they brought it to Orange County. We needed a large car auction in the L.A. area."

Big-time bidders were treated to special seating in a giant tent spanning the length of two football fields. There, fast-talking auctioneers were scheduled to sell cars from 2 to 9 p.m.

Most of the attendees, though, weren't buyers but car enthusiasts, out for the day to peer in the windows and under the hoods of hot rods, classics and custom cars.

"We're just a car family," said Damon Reynolds of San Diego, who drove up for the auction with his wife and daughter. "We're from Detroit, and in the summer there you can see cars like this all day every weekend. Out here, it's a little bit harder."

In addition to row upon row of auction cars, visitors also took in car demonstrations, browsed vendor booths and noshed on fair food.

The Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction continues Sunday at the OC Fair & Event Center. The auto auction begins at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $13 for adults, with discounts for students, seniors, military personnel and children. Parking is $10.

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