Arizona Auto Auctions Boost Phoenix Economy $160M+

by Darin Roberge

It’s late January in Arizona and that means it’s time for world-renowned auctions to descend on the Valley and present a series of events that ultimately set the tone for billions of dollars’ worth of highly collectible metal to trade hands across the collector car market around the world. Much less about external events and additional hoopla, Arizona in January is about one thing and one thing only: the excitement of the auction block! As retail and auction sales of collector cars account for nearly $4.5 billion annually, this means Arizona is serious business and can oftentimes make or break the remainder of the upcoming year. Additionally, Arizona sales alone at the auctions frequently top a quarter billion dollars, so it’s an important component of Arizona’s economy too. As a result, Car Week remains one of the largest series of events in the state year in and year out.

With more than 350,000 attendees, exhibitors, consignors and bidders from across the world flocking to the Phoenix Metro region, businesses and the community thrive during Car Week. A study, paid for by Barrett-Jackson and the City of Scottsdale and prepared by Elliott D. Pollack & Co., states that recent economic impact was $167.8 million, an increase of almost $70 million over the past 10 years. Basically, Arizona Car Week is a big deal.

As Arizona Car Week’s centerpiece event, Barrett-Jackson alone directly generates more than $6 million each year in tax revenue for the state and nearly $2 million for Scottsdale’s treasury. The auction company also created nearly 2,000 direct and indirect jobs in a variety of fields, such as construction, operations and associated tourism activities. The auction house also raises millions of dollars through the sale of many auctions lots donated to various charities both local and national.

Looking to take in the splendor of each of Arizona Car Week’s unique auction events? Here’s what to look for:

Bonhams Motorcar Auction
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
6902 East Greenway Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85254

UK-based Bonhams is an unquestionable force in the auction industry, selling basically everything valuable or collectible, at literally hundreds of events every year. It also has a robust motoring division and, as it does at virtually every other series of major automotive events, also maintains an annual presence during Arizona Car Week. Bonhams is a traditional British auction (not the kind with the fast-talking auctioneer) and it largely represents the mid high-end of the spectrum. The Westin Kierland serves as an outstanding background for this relaxed, upscale event.

Featured offerings: 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series I “External Bonnet-Latch” Roadster, 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300S Roadster “Barn-Find”, 1958 AC Ace Roadster

Gooding & Company
Scottsdale Fashion Square
4710 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ US

Absolutely dripping with stylish, mid-century goodness from wall to wall, Gooding & Co offers a fabulous environment and always presents a wonderful docket ranging from the ultra-high end, to track ready competition cars, to celebrity collections, to barn finds and more. Additionally, Gooding offers one of the most engaging stage presentations of any type of event, anywhere. Modeled after an early ʹ60s newscast, Company Principal David Gooding and Auctioneer Charlie Rose (who is arguably the best active auctioneer in the industry today) man the anchor desk and complement each other perfectly. Between Gooding’s laid-back, tranquil demeanor and Rose’s delightfully gruff (and oftentimes comically aggressive) approach, Gooding & Co is all-around great fun and should be an event that every automotive enthusiast strives to attend at least once.

Featured offerings: 1961 Maserati 5000 GT Coupe, 1952 Alfa Romeo 1900C Sprint, 1957 Porsche 356 A Speedster “Garage Find”, 1962 Lancia Flaminia Sport 3C

*Note: Gooding & Company will be an online only event with private bidders only preview day in 2022

Motorsports Auction Group (MAG Auctions)
We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort
10438 Wekopa Way
Fort McDowell, AZ 85264

MAG (or Motorsports Auction Group) is a great place to buy if you are starting a collection or are looking for something cool to tinker with. A little bit off the beaten path and located at the We-Ko-Pa resort, just east of Scottsdale, it’s also a nice break from the craziness elsewhere in the Valley during Car Week. Additionally, it’s also inexpensive to attend and enjoy and a fun place to take the little ones to see some cool cars if they aren’t quite up to the walking required elsewhere.

Featured offerings: 1970 Plymouth Cuda 440 Six Pack, 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, An outstanding collection of classic 1968-1971 Schwinn Bicycles

RM Sotheby’s
Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa
2400 East Missouri Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona
United States 85016

Canadian-based RM Sotheby’s represents the high end (and arguably the highest end) of the collector car auction universe. If ultra-premium and multimillion-dollar offerings are your thing, RM’s docket is almost exclusively populated with them. RM also almost always sells the most expensive offering in Arizona every year and, additionally, holds the world record for most expensive car ever sold at auction (a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold in 2018 in Monterey, California, for $48.4 million). An incredible inventory and extremely high-stakes bidding make RM Sotheby’s a can’t-miss event in Arizona.

Featured offerings: 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing, 1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider, 1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster, The Dr. Terry Maxon Ferrari Collection

Worldwide Auctioneers
Singh Meadows
1490 E Weber Dr
Tempe, AZ 85281

When most people think about old cars, the first thing that comes to mind is big pre-war (cars produced prior to World War II) luxury automobiles and this is what Worldwide Auctioneers specializes in. However, they also generally have an eclectic collection of high-end, original American Muscle, a few European Sports Cars and some eccentric vehicles as well. This one is really for the serious car nerd, and, if that’s you, you won’t be disappointed.

Featured offerings: 1932 Chrysler CH Imperial Cabriolet, 1935 Delahaye 135M Competition Drophead Coupe, 1929 Duesenberg Model J Berline, 1970 Dodge Hemi Challenger R/T

Westworld Scottsdale
16601 North Pima Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Almost certainly the most famous collector car auction on earth, Barrett-Jackson has in many ways eclipsed the realm of regular auction events. Almost like an amusement park, mixed with a World’s Fair, the Mall of America and the Super Bowl — but for cars. It’s literally impossible to experience everything that Barrett-Jackson has to offer in Scottsdale. It’s just that much. Even if you’ve seen it on TV, you still have no idea. You just have to go and experience it for yourself. It is the central component of Arizona Car Week, but, of course, you already knew that.

Featured offerings: 1967 Shelby Cobra 427, 1962 Shelby Cobra “Lance Reventlow”, 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird, 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88

President and founder of Motorwerks Marketing, Darin Roberge has had a lifelong passion for classic and collector automobiles. Built on this passion, Motorwerks is a full-service marketing and creative agency dedicated exclusively to this space. With a focus on crafting a streamlined, high-impact and highly effective, budget and time-sensitive message, Motorwerks brings a level of expertise that is tailor-made to meet clients’ specialty automotive brand’s objectives.

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