BEHIND THE SHADES: How Steve Davis sees both sides of the auction block

davis-steve_5352Steve Davis’ dark glasses protect his eyes from a light sensitivity condition – but that doesn’t hinder his vision of the collector car market.

I’ve been a car guy all my life. And that goes way back to collecting Hot Wheels cars and putting model cars together. It wasn’t until 1969 that I got to own the real deal, a 1968 Mercury Cougar I bought from a used car lot, making the down payment with money I had earned from my dishwashing job.

Fast-forward 10 years to 1979. I started my business ‒ Valley Oak Auto ‒ in Visalia, California, and kind of became the go-to guy for Mustangs and Mustang parts. I’d buy Mustangs, rebuild them, and give them my own special touch with fresh paint, accessories and custom upholstery.

Also in 1979, I started coming to Barrett-Jackson as a consignor. I’d bring as many as 40-plus cars in a year. No matter how many cars I brought, it seemed like I’d always have a couple of truckloads of Mustangs, and always sold them at No Reserve – long before Barrett-Jackson was known for its No Reserve policy. I had strong feelings about a car doing really well as a result of an owner being there to represent it honestly, with nothing to hide, complete transparency. I like to interact with people and go over the cars with them.

Steve in his office reviewing consignment applications, 2005.

Steve in his office reviewing consignment applications, 2005.

My feelings about the No Reserve format were particularly validated one year at Barrett-Jackson when I sold a custom Mustang convertible with many unique and custom features for $50,000, back when those cars were going for around $15,000 to $20,000. The competitive bidding over that car resulted in a world record price, and proved to me – and many others – enthusiasts are out there who would appreciate a special car offered at No Reserve.

When I joined Barrett-Jackson in 1996, I was first a consultant, with my role evolving over the last 20 years to that of president of the company. What has remained constant and at the forefront is my knowledge of the consignment process and the perspective of a consignor. All of us on the consignment team at Barrett-Jackson realize it’s important for our customers to know we are car people, and we are. We are passionate car people; it’s something we all really love.

Ready for the auction block at Scottsdale: Lot 1365, a 1965 Shelby GT350 Fastback.

Ready for the auction block at Scottsdale: Lot 1365, a 1965 Shelby GT350 Fastback.

I’m very proud of the fact that Barrett-Jackson is not just for the person with unlimited resources. We have created a marketplace that’s as user-friendly for entry-level people as it is for the experienced, high-end collectors. We prequalify every person who signs up to bid. We work with each consignor as much as possible to encourage them to represent their car properly.

When you consign a car with Barrett-Jackson, you are putting it in one of the most exciting and competitive market environments in the collector car world. When the smoke clears, you’re going to get what that car is worth that day. It may be a grand slam home run, or it may be a single. But as someone who understands consigning a car from both sides of the process, I can assure you that whatever the market is, we are going to work with you to realize it at Barrett-Jackson.

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