GOODBYE TO ONE OF THE GREATEST GENERATION: Willie Ashford Embodied the Family Spirit of Car Collecting

GOODBYE TO ONE OF THE GREATEST GENERATION: Willie Ashford Embodied the Family Spirit of Car Collecting

Willie Ashford (left) with son-in-law Steve Davis and late brother Murray, at the 2014 Las Vegas Auction.


Four generations: Willie Ashford with daughter Janie Davis (far right), granddaughter Misty McLaren, and great-grandsons Connor and Blake.

The entire team at Barrett-Jackson was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Willie Ashford this past weekend. The father of Janie Davis, Willie was much more than a father-in-law to company president Steve Davis. “Janie’s father, Willie, was truly my best friend,” Steve said in a 2016 interview. “He went to all the auctions with me, since 1979, when I began coming to Barrett-Jackson as a consignor. We hauled those cars, we worked on those cars. He was right by my side.”

Willie was born in 1928 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, eventually heading west with his family to settle in Visalia, California. While attending Union High School he met the love of his life, Nina, at a roller rink, and the two were married a remarkable 66 years until she passed away in 2014. He was drawn to the automotive world early on, becoming part owner of Visalia Truck & Trailer, working on big rigs and trailers.

Willie, Steve Davis and Steve’s son-in-law Dean McLaren, working on Steve’s GT350.

In fact, the automotive bug bit Willie early on – he loved vintage cars, especially Fords, and became an avid NASCAR fan, as well as a familiar fixture (often with his late brother Murray) at Barrett-Jackson auctions, where he always had a smile on his face. “My grandpa never knew a stranger, and was dearly loved by everyone,” said Willie’s granddaughter Misty McLaren.

“The collector car hobby is a collision of memories and passion and the love of the people around you,” remarked Steve Davis. “Willie’s spirit lives on in that. It’s part of his heritage and his time with me and my family together.”

Willie Ashford’s legacy and commitment to his family will live on forever.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve, Janie and the entire Davis family at this difficult time.