BEHIND THE SHADES: Seeing Both Sides of the Auction Block, Part 2

Barrett-Jackson President Steve Davis

Barrett-Jackson President Steve Davis

Steve Davis’ dark glasses protect his eyes from light sensitivity – but that doesn’t hinder his vision of the collector car market.

More than 30 years ago, I began coming to Barrett-Jackson as a consignor; a car dealer who bought and sold countless numbers of vehicles. Mustangs, Shelbys, muscle cars – they were my calling card back in the day, and I continue to have a special place in my heart for those types of cars.

Whether you’re a dealer or a hobbyist, sometimes you have cars come into your life that become part of your family; that become very special to you. Such is the case with two cars I decided to consign to the 2017 Scottsdale Auction: a burgundy A-code 1965 Mustang convertible I bought some 22 years ago and used as a daily driver for many years, and my yellow 1970 Boss 302 Fastback, which I also acquired two decades ago as a rolling chassis that I had meticulously restored. That Boss sat in my carport for many years; a feral cat even had a litter of kittens in it! The cars were truly fixtures in our home.

Steve Davis' 1970 Boss 302 (Lot #1318.1) sold for $136,400 at the 2017 Scottsdale Auction, as his wife Janie and daughter Misty looked on.

Steve Davis’ 1970 Boss 302 (Lot #1318.1) sold for $136,400 at the 2017 Scottsdale Auction, as his wife Janie and daughter Mindy looked on.

It’s very different selling a car when you’re a dealer, as opposed to when you’re selling a car that has become part of your family. But, when you’re trying to manage things like space, budget and other factors, it becomes necessary to make a sometimes painful and emotional decision. Having the cars at the auction and selling them over the auction block rekindled all my old feelings from 30-plus years ago that surround that experience: the excitement, the anticipation, the anxiety.

While those feelings are the same as long ago, the difference is, obviously, the size and the scope and the magnitude of what we’ve created at Scottsdale. It’s not even comparable to when I was consigning cars at Barrett-Jackson in the late 1970s; the crowd was miniscule compared to the mass audience we see today. But the underlying feeling and sense of excitement is always present – whether it’s 500 people or 50,000 people.

While I started as a consignor at Barrett-Jackson, I’m now in the position at the company of determining what each docket looks like, the sequence of the vehicles as they roll across the block and many other aspects of the consignment process. I’ve been doing that for two decades now. So the opportunity to be a consignor again reconnected me with my roots and my bond to those on the other side of the auction block: the consignors. I understand their anxieties and expectations, and their need to be reassured that we are in it together. There are no guarantees. That’s really the wild card when you’re selling a car.

Steve described the details of his 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible (Lot #525.1) as it crossed the block at this year's Scottsdale auction. The car sold for $47,300.

Steve described the details of his 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible (Lot #525.1) as it crossed the block at this year’s Scottsdale auction. The car sold for $47,300.

But I have always believed in the process. Many of these cars have a lot of money, time and personal attachment invested in them – and with our No Reserve system, they’re selling regardless of price to the highest bidder. You have to have confidence in the cars that they’ll bring a market price that’s reasonable – as mine did. I was very happy with the results.

Having the ability once again to be a consignor and see my cars staged, having them roll across the block with my wife Janie and daughter Mindy at my side, having all those memories flood through my mind, watching the sea of people – it really puts everything in perspective. Barrett-Jackson has become not only the greatest collector car event in the world, but also is a place where memories are created and provides a conduit for those memories to live on. My cars now belong to someone else, and they’ll start creating their memories – but part of the provenance of those cars will be that I owned them for so many years.

It’s another book – not just another chapter – for each of the cars; a new adventure. Both cars went to people who I respect and have become close to as a result of my relationship with Barrett-Jackson. That makes me feel really good. But to see big pieces of my family history and my experiences over those decades go away … it’s bittersweet. At the same time, it will help me fulfill some of the other desires I have, enabling me to start that next book!


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