For 50 years, Barrett-Jackson has brought collector cars to Scottsdale in an auction event that blends the appeal of luxury vehicles and must-see fashion—a combination that ties directly to the childhood memories of Chairman and CEO Craig Jackson.
“I recall my mother, Nellie, in front of a 1931 Cadillac in red and black to match the car show,” he says.
Established in 1971, Barrett-Jackson began with Jackson’s father, Russ, and fellow car enthusiast and friend, Tom Barrett. The first auction took place next to the Safari Resort which was located on Scottsdale Road. The event has become a Valley tradition and, in the years since its inception, Barrett-Jackson has grown to include auctions in Palm Beach, Calif.; Las Vegas; and most recently, Houston, Texas.
“Barrett-Jackson’s flagship event, the annual Scottsdale Auction, is a bucket list event whether you are a car enthusiast or just enjoy live events with a variety of attractions,” Craig says. “It is an event that you must see in person in order to fully appreciate it.”
Despite being all about cars, Barrett-Jackson has had its share of exposure in the fashion industry as well. The company has lent cars to a variety of designer and retailer photoshoots over the years, and the must-attend auctions include vendors with a variety of designer wares and fashion collaborations. In the past, the auctions often had fashion shows, too.
“Fashion and cars go so well together. It’s about making a statement,” Craig shares. “Concours first began in Paris as a blend of fashion and cars—collectors and coachbuilders showcasing their cars in front of the Eiffel Tower with beautiful models donning couture dresses.”
Collaborations over the years include a 45th anniversary Barrett-Jackson merchandise collection created with Robert Graham, a limited-edition run of 100 numbered Barrett-Jackson watches inspired by the design of a Bugatti Type 35 in partnership with Hublot, and a project with REC Watches to create a limited production run of custom Little Red and Green Hornet watches based off two historic experimental Shelby Mustangs in Craig Jackson’s collection. Craig shares that sheet metal from each car’s restoration was used in the production of each watch.
“Cars are the ultimate fashion statement. Like a designer dress or handbag, they offer individual expression and often the first impression,” says Carolyn Jackson, Barrett-Jackson’s vice president of brand strategy and chief philanthropy officer, and Craig’s wife. “To this day you see collaborations between high-end manufacturers and high-end designers like Bugatti and Hermes, and Lamborghini and Versace.”
In 2021, Craig worked with General Motors and Neiman Marcus to create a one-of-a-kind Barrett-Jackson GMC Hummer EV Edition 1 that featured a custom interior. The interior is highlighted by two-tone handcrafted leather seats and anodized metal accents, customized Neiman Marcus badging, a bespoke steering wheel, customized running boards, and special entry illumination projection lighting. The vehicle was sold as part of a Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts luxury package in the 2021 Christmas Book.
“We have a long history of showcasing a variety of designers throughout our events,” Carolyn says. “Today, in our Exhibitor Marketplace, you can find many incredible exhibitors selling luxury designer brands such as Chanel, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton. We also feature high-end jewelers such as E.D. Marshall Jewelers and Winston Estate Jewelry.”
“It is all about art,” adds Craig. “The lines of clothes, the lines of cars. I think that is why cars of the past and the modern one-off cars still have that artistic appeal. I think that is why enthusiasts today really enjoy Resto-Mods because of the classic design but with modern technology.”
In addition to the company’s long-standing legacy with cars, Barrett-Jackson has been recognized by the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, receiving the Sterling Award for Small Business for its excellence, innovation, and local stewardship within the business community. It has also helped collect more than $148 million dollars for charitable causes over the years.
Craig says that the yearly auction held in Scottsdale a fun social and lifestyle event for all, even if an attendee doesn’t consider themselves a “car person.” Each year, the event draws guests from around the world. Sales in 2022 surpassed a record-breaking $203 million. Features of the event include the invitation-only Opening Night Gala, which is one of the hottest events in Scottsdale each January and sets the stage for the entire week. The Scottsdale 2023 auction takes place January 21-29, 2023, at WestWorld of Scottsdale.