June 30, 2022 - 7:37 pm
Updated July 1, 2022 - 11:49 am
The Las Vegas Convention Center smelled of gasoline and rubber on Thursday as car enthusiasts packed in to watch and participate in the Barrett-Jackson Auction, which runs through Saturday.
Billed as “The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions” by the company, the auction returned for its 14th year in Las Vegas and is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
“You don’t have to really be a crazy car person just to see the beauty of the car,” said Nickolas Cardinale, chief operating officer at Barrett-Jackson. “Some people, you know, do it for the flash. Some people do it for the love.”
Cars from across all decades are being sold at the event with models from the 1920s up to 2023. But most of the cars have been modernized while keeping the same vintage body.
“That’s where the trends turning. People like the cars to have the look of a bit old, shiny car, but all the insides of the car (new) — whether it’s LS crate engineering, new air conditioning, digital gauges, sound system … that’s what they do,” said Cardinale.
The convention center was packed with attendees on Wednesday, the first day of the auction. There are 650 cars on the roster this year, some with celebrity names attached to them. Paul Stanley, guitarist from the band Kiss, was selling his customized 2022 Chevrolet Corvette VIN 001, which comes with a signed guitar, and comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias listed his 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.
Cars, trikes and motorbikes can sell for $3,000 or into the millions but with one stipulation — no reserve. This means no starting bid for the items sold, and vehicles will be sold regardless of price.
“Everything that comes to the Barrett-Jackson auction is no reserve,” said Jeff Rathgeb from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “So when I bring it here, it’s already sold. It’s just a matter of how much it sold for and where it’s gonna go next.”
Rathgeb has been attending and selling at the auction for years with his partner. This year, he brought 10 cars for auction, including a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette.
“That’s how you start, with one and end up with 100,” said Rathgeb. “We don’t keep them, just enjoy them for a day or two and send them down the road. Barrett-Jackson is one of the top auctions that we get to go to. … Barrett-Jackson is probably about the best.”
Like Rathgeb, Olivia Ballantyne hails from Pennsylvania and has been attending the auction for years.
“I always watched this auction, and then we started coming to this auction,” said Ballantyne. “I love vintage cars. I like vintage everything. It’s kind of nostalgic I guess.”
Ballantyne took a particular liking to a green 1929 Ford Model A, saying “that’s just perfect.”
“I really like older stuff. I like old, really old trucks, really old cars,” said Ballantyne. “We have a wedding venue in Pennsylvania; it’s called the Gardens at Gretna Green, and this beautiful green car that would be perfect for brides to like, escape in.”
Fueled by nostalgia, people of all ages come to the event with each generation looking for something different. This year, vintage trucks, specifically Ford Broncos, are the hottest item among Millenials.
“As I always say, the baby boomers are big truck people. I think they looked at those as work vehicles,” said Cardinale. “The next generation, the Millennials, are coming through, (and) their families had Suburbans and Broncos, and so they kind of grew up with trucks.”