Celebrities, Million-Dollar Cars and Hillbilly Hype: Just Another Arizona Car Auction Season

Only in Arizona can you find nearly 4,000 cars crossing the auction blocks of seven of the nation’s top auction houses in less than a month. It is this fast-paced, circus-like atmosphere that continues to draw crowds and new auction companies to sunny Arizona each January. While the wheeling and dealing will continue for a few more days, there is little doubt that this year’s auction extravaganza will be one for the record books.

    From the reports that we have received to date, it appears that the top-selling collector car to emerge from this year’s Arizona auction scene sold at newcomer Gooding & Company’s sale. With a top bid of $3.3 million, the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT long-wheelbase California Spider, set the standard for more than a dozen cars breaking into seven figures at the flurry of auctions that converge on the Grand Canyon state.


The 2008 Arizona auction season’s top seller, the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT (photo by Gooding & Co.)

    More than 10,000 spectators and bidders crammed into the Barrett-Jackson auction area Saturday to dream and drool over legendary machines from auto legends such as Carroll Shelby and the late Harley Earl.

    With a reported average selling price of $72,000, the auction met most classic car lovers expectations by provided jaw-dropping entertainment for nearly everyone who finds six-figure car sales completely out of their league.

    As of Saturday evening, no car had come near last year’s record-setting price of $5.5 million fetched for Carroll Shelby’s personal 1966 Shelby Cobra "Super Snake." But one vehicle did surpass the $1 million mark before the clock struck 7 p.m.

    The 1963 Corvette coupe "Rondine" concept car sold for a cool $1.6 million.


The 1963 Corvette coupe "Rondine."

    The vehicle was the only one of its kind built in 1963 for the Paris Auto Show. It featured a 327 V8 four-speed engine with 360 horsepower. Formerly housed in a museum, the car was offered for private ownership for the first time.

    Another one-of-a-kind concept car, a 1963 Ford Thunderbird Fastback "Italien" that was nearly crushed by Ford Motor Co., brought $600,000. The Thunderbird featured a new roofline, aerodynamic styling and customized leather interior.

    One of the more unique vehicles to ever cross Barrett-Jackson’s auction block was the mammoth (nearly 40 foot tall!) car-rushing contraption better know as Robosaurus. The beast sold for $575,000, a new record for fire-breathing vehicles at any collector car auction we’ve ever heard of.

    The January car auction circus is known for attracting a unique gathering of cars that appeal to a wide variety of collector tastes, and this year was no exception.

    Whether from Beverly Hills or Hazzard County, bare-foot, moonshine-swigging hillbillies were provided with several opportunities to purchase collector cars specifically targeted to their unique tastes.

    Parked among the premium collector cars was a star-studded jalopy that nearly everybody recognized as the truck from the ‘60s TV show, TheBeverly Hillbillies.

    Complete with wooden rocking chair that carefully cradled the not-so-delicate Granny Clampett on the long trip from Bug Tussle, the iconic truck brought a top bid of $125,000.


Straight from Bug Tussle, the "Beverly Hillbillies" truck was featured at the Barrett-Jackson auction.

    However, for the bib overall-clad connoisseurs of fine collector cars that prefer a ride with a little more  “kick”, John Schneider’s  (a.k.a. Bo Duke) very own 1969 Dodge Charger finally sold for $450,000. This is the very same autographed version of the iconic General Lee from the "Dukes of Hazzard" TV show that almost sold last year on eBay for a record $10 Million. However, it later turned out that the top online bidder was a fake.


John Schneider’s General Lee sold for far less than $10 million this time around.

    If premium muscle car firsts are more to you liking, then you’ll definitely want to flip over to the Speed Channel’s coverage of the Barrett-Jackson event

    The very first 2009 Corvette ZR1 sold for a cool $1 million with a little help from Jay Leno, who was on hand to help announce the sale. A mere $900,000 over sticker price, the money from the sale of this two-seat super car was donated to the United Way.


The "Monkeemobile" brought $360,000 over the weekend in Arizona.

    Another first, the very first production 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 was a big hit selling for $400,000, just slightly less than the first 2008 Shelby GT500KR, which found a new owner for $550,000.

Other iconic vehicle sales from the 2008 Arizona auction scene include::

  • Television’s “Monkeemobile,” based on a Pontiac GTO (B-J Auction): $360,000.
  • James Brown’s 1992 Mercedes-Benz 160E(B-J Auction): $9,000.
  • 1966 Ford Thunderbird used in the movie “Thelma and Louise” (B-J Auction): $65,000.
  • The “Miami Vice” movie boat and matching Hummer (B-J Auction): $175,000.
  • Flying Panoz Esperante from the TV show “Monster Garage" (B-J Auction): $45,000.
  • Carol Shelby’s 1969 Shelby GT500 convertible (B-J Auction): $675,000.
  • 1929 Duesenberg Model J dual-cowl phaeton (RM Auction): $1.76 million.
  • 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spider (Gooding Auction): $1.54 million.
  • 1936 Model J Duesenberg Murphy Clear Vision Sedan (Gooding Auction): $1.1 million.
  • 1932 Packard Model 904 Individual Custom Eight Convertible Victoria (Gooding Auction): $1.21 million.
  • 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt concept car (RM Auction): $1.32 million.

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