As the guy who runs Barrett-Jackson Auctions, Craig Jackson, sees a lot of cars roll across the auction block — he really does have the pick of the lot. But, what is that one car he covets?
“I’ve had a lot cars. I have 52… 53 cars in my personal collection, right now — and I get asked that all the time — it’s like picking your best child. But the answer I give is usually by genre. In my ’60s sports cars, I love my 427 Cobra. With my muscle cars I love my Hemi Cuda convertible and in my contemporary cars, I love the [Bugatti] Veyron.”
Yes, Jackson, CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auction company, just rattled off three of the most expensive, rarest and most desirable vintage cars on the road and they’re not cars he wants, they’re cars he already has.
But, to be clear, Jackson didn’t list those three cars in a way that would set off a pissing match between other collectors — those are his “favorites” because he likes them for the cars they are, not because they’re rarer and more expensive than any other car out there.
“Even though mine is an ’08 Veyron — it’s sort of the old thing — that thing’s still a kick in the ass to drive.”
He’s a car guy, through and through; he just has the means to buy any car he wants — his dream garage is his actual garage. But is there that one car he wants but doesn’t have, a car he truly covets? There has to be at least one, right?
Jackson’s personal collection may currently tip the scales at 53 cars, but he’s had more than a few lust-worthy cars pass through. He’s certainly humble when going over the cars that he’s owned and sold. It’s fairly obvious that the smile on his face, as he goes down the list, is the side effect of re-experiencing vivid memories of each one.
“I’ve had Ferrari California Spiders, Jaguar XKSSs. I’ve had a lot of great sports cars — Figoni et Falaschi Delahayes.”
Jackson talks of these demi-god automobiles the way I reminisce about my first car — ’93 Cadillac STS — or about my family’s old ’86 Volkswagen Scirocco, my Dad’s ’76 Cadillac Eldorado. Still, he’s Jackson is well aware of where he came from and the charmed life he’s had.
“I guess I got a little jaded because I grew up around Tom Barrett, who had ten thousand cars go through his hands in his lifetime and I restored a lot of them for him. I drove thousands of different types of cars. And with my dad, we would probably go through 50 cars a year that I would work on and drive. But is there one ultimate car? Probably. But if I tell everybody what I’m looking for, I’ll probably have to pay a lot more for it.
“I bought one of my dream cars in January. I bought a ’66 Shelby [Mustang] GT350 convertible — they made four; they only made two four-speeds and…there’s only one in red, and that’s the one I bought. So I love Shelbys. I love Cobras. I like things that smoke the tires and scare me, just a little.”
But to Jackson, it’s the car-owner relationship that makes one truly special. He doesn’t acquire a car just to have it; there has to be a level of desire or sentimentality.
“My first car was a 1966 Pontiac Le Mans. And it was my grandmother’s car. She gave it to me and when I was 15; I spent my summer between my sophomore and junior year fixing it up. I still have it.
“In my collection is my brother’s first, my first car…a 1934 Cadillac V12 Opera Coupe that my brother and my dad restored, before I was born, in Michigan. And then when we moved to Arizona, my mom drove that car from Michigan to Arizona, with me in the passenger seat… They sold it at the [very first Barrett Jackson] auction. I bought it back in Scottsdale two years ago and we’re doing a restoration on it, right now.”
But would Jackson qualify it as a grail car?
“It’s a keeper.”