Written by Eric Becker
Barrett-Jackson is on the Road to 50, and over the past half-century there’s always been one constant in the collector car world: A lot of discussion about which cars are going to be sought out as future collectibles. Like most collector-oriented hobbies, external factors will always play a major role. Societal trends, age demographics and more have their place in shaping what cars become coveted in collector circles. “We’re beginning to see an evolution of our hobby,” Barrett-Jackson CEO and Chairman Craig Jackson said. “It’s a new generation of people interested in a new generation of cars.” The collector car industry has taken note. As Gen-Xers and millennials make their desires known, a ripple has been felt throughout the hobby – and there’s nothing more telling than the dozens of auction records set at Barrett-Jackson auctions over the past year.
It’s hard not to notice the huge surge in demand for late-model imports. The star cars of the PlayStation generation have truly cemented themselves as hot-ticket items in the collector car world. At the Barrett-Jackson 2019 Northeast Auction, a 1997 MKIV Toyota Supra shattered all expectations and sold for a then-unheard-of $176,000. Fast-forward to our flagship 2020 Scottsdale Auction, and it was BMW’s DTM-derived M3 that took center stage. A quintet of 1995 E36 M3 Lightweights belonging to actor Paul Walker sold for an unheard of combined $1,325,500. Individually, each of the five M3 Lightweights bested the previous record by over $50,000. The top-selling of the five, Lot #1371, recorded an astronomical final price of $385,000 – but desire for the early ’90s Teutonic track fiend didn’t stop there: Lot #1371.1, a 1991 BMW E30 M3 also belonging to Walker, closed with a final price of $220,000.
The cars of a beloved icon and stars of “Gran Turismo” aren’t the only examples setting records. Barrett-Jackson has also seen an uptick in demand for SUVs – the Ford Bronco being one of the most popular, some garnering unheard-of amounts when the hammer falls. At the 2019 Northeast Auction, two first-generation Ford Bronco Resto-Mods moved well into the six-figure range. In keeping with the trend, a 1976 Bronco built for SEMA just sold for $195,250 – setting a new record for a 1976 model – during the Barrett-Jackson Online Only July 2020 Auction. With the all-new Ford Bronco just released, we expect this trend to continue for the long haul. But the Bronco isn’t alone. Chevrolet’s C/K Series pickups of the 1970s have matched the Bronco’s ascendency into six-figure territory, as has Dodge’s nigh unstoppable Power Wagon.
As for supercars and late-model domestics, the Ford GT has become a record-setting staple of the Barrett-Jackson experience. The Blue Oval’s Fox Body Mustang Cobra R has also set several records, most notably at the 2019 Palm Beach and 2020 Scottsdale events. In Florida, Lot #674.1 met a final price of $132,000, while in Scottsdale, demand for the Cobra R continued, with Lot #1073.1 reaching a final selling price of $143,000.
This is but a snippet of the many record-breakers sold at auction, from the chart-toppers to the jaw-droppers and everything in between. Check out the gallery below for even more record-breakers and let us know your favorites!