BEHIND THE SHADES: Remarkable Moments To Help Others


BEHIND THE SHADES: Remarkable Moments To Help Others

Barrett-Jackson President Steve Davis

 

Ford first revealed the 2007 Shelby GT500 to the world on the Barrett-Jackson auction block. The VIN 001 car sold for charity for $600,000.

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

We just finished our incredible 50th Anniversary celebration, and it was unprecedented in every way. To have everybody get together for the first post-pandemic Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction was simply an electric experience. The expectations and the anticipation of the 50th Anniversary was the backdrop, and we did not disappoint. It was a phenomenal event.

As amazing as it all was, for me, I couldn’t help but reflect on some of the charity moments, particularly the first-in-series cars from the OEMs. We sold the first retail production 2023 70th Anniversary Edition Z06 Corvette for $3.6 million, plus an additional $100,000 donated, to benefit Operation Homefront. The first production 2022 Ford Shelby GT500KR hammered sold for $700,000 to benefit the Carroll Shelby Foundation and JDRF, and the first two Toyota Tundra iForce Twin Turbo V6 hybrid pickups for the North American market sold to benefit the Toyota U.S. Paralympic Fund.

On the Las Vegas auction block in 2014, the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, VIN #001, sold for $865,000, with a matching donation that brought the total for charity to $1.65 million.

These headliners caused me to take a step back and contemplate how we got here, on our 50th Anniversary, selling these historically significant cars for such staggering amounts for charity. These are charitable impacts that will make a real difference. But the whole idea of a VIN 001 car being auctioned by major manufacturers for charity was never a sure thing. Early on, it took some arm-twisting to convince the key players it was going to be a win-win-win situation.

Back in 2006, I’d had ongoing discussions as part of a long marathon effort to get Ford to consider selling the VIN 001 2007 Shelby GT500 at our 35th Anniversary auction for charity. There was a lot of anxiety among the Ford and Shelby folks. They thought it was risky, that the car might not bring MSRP, leading to major embarrassment.

“Trust me guys, it’s going to do really, really well,” I had to keep reassuring them. Carroll Shelby and Edsel Ford were back together again, the GT500 was returning, it was VIN 001 — all of those great firsts were going to manifest on the Barrett-Jackson stage. Plus, that GT500 was one of the most anticipated cars of that era because it was going to have 500 horsepower! Of course, we kind of chuckle about it now when 700 or 800 horsepower is common, but that was leading-edge back then.

The last-production 2017 Dodge Viper (Lot #3002) and last-production 2018 Dodge Demon (Lot #3002.1) sold for $1 million to benefit the United Way.

Ron Pratte ended up buying that first GT500, paying an unheard-of $600,000. What we did in 2006 was unprecedented: that a car like that would be offered to the general public, and that it would be offered at Barrett-Jackson; that it would be offered at No Reserve, and that it was all for charity. All those things melded to create this incredible moment that helped launch all of it — all to help others.

From there we nurtured our relationship with General Motors, and the next thing you know, GM is in the hunt and they’re selling their VIN 001s. At the 2008 Scottsdale auction, the first retail 2009 Corvette ZR-1 sold for $1 million to benefit the United Way, which was followed by other Corvettes and first-of-series Camaros. Then Dodge announced it would sell the first Challenger Hellcat and the last Viper. All of these firsts and lasts were coming right and left. That monumental precedent-setting moment that we had in ’06 spawned all these incredible moments, creating a platform for charity cars to bring the kind of money that had never been seen before.

What we did this year with the Corvette with General Motors was one of the highlights of our charity sales, right up there with the Shelby for me. It was north of $3 million, and it was for a great veteran-related cause. It was one of those moments when it seems as though time stands still on the auction block, and then when we got to that last bid everybody erupted and just blew the lid off that massive structure.

The first retail 2009 Corvette ZR-1 sold for $1 million to benefit the United Way at the 2008 Scottsdale auction.

One of the things I’m proudest of is the awareness we create for these charities. It isn’t just that moment on the block. People start talking, “Wow, that was incredible. What is that charity and what do they do?” Before you know it, we get a lot of great calls and a lot of follow-ups from the charities after the car sold thanking us because their website was inundated with inquiries and people were really excited about what was going on. In many cases, that’s exposure you can’t get anywhere else because we’re a world stage. We have millions of people watching us online, we have millions of people watching on TV, and we have millions of people on social media.

We only have so many spots for charity vehicles, so it becomes very competitive, in a good way. And there’s a lot of planning that goes on behind the scenes. We work with the manufacturers, there’s usually a spokesperson, and we often have some of the most incredible American heroes standing side-by-side on that stage. We’ve even had A-list celebrities. We need to make sure a lot of choreographed moments get put together before the cars go over the auction block. It’s quite a ballet. The car is inserted surgically into the docket because we’re selling it on a time basis. It’s a lot different now with our charity process than it was trying to convince Ford to roll the dice with us on that first GT500.

The years between 2006 and 2022 may seem like a long time, but in another way of looking at it, it hasn’t been that long ago that we’d taken something that didn’t exist and fine-tuned it into this amazing, magical thing that people expect at every Barrett-Jackson auction. And now we’re going to keep that momentum going as we gear up for Palm Beach, where more first-in-series cars, including Ford’s 2022 Bronco Raptor VIN 001 and a very early production VIN of the 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 convertible, will cross the block, all for great causes.

 

 



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