HomeThe Market2015 top stories: No. 10 — Big changes at Barrett-Jackson

2015 top stories: No. 10 — Big changes at Barrett-Jackson


The 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special on the block during the Scottsdale auction| Barrett-Jackson photos
The 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special on the block during the Scottsdale auction| Barrett-Jackson photos

This was a year of significant changes for the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, which held its 44th annual Scottsdale sale in January and is one of the mainstays of the collector car industry.

The year started with a major change in terms of how most people watch Barrett-Jackson auctions — on television. The January sale was the first broadcast by the auction’s new cable-television partner, Discovery Communications, which aired the Barrett-Jackson auction at Scottsdale on Velocity as well as the Discovery Channel.

The change happened after the demise of SPEED, Barrett-Jackson’s longtime TV partner. Fox Networks terminated SPEED and turned into yet another sports channel. Fox showed the auction on its various affiliates through 2014, although Barrett-Jackson announced in April 2014 that it would switch to Discovery for more consistent programming.

January’s broadcast of the Scottsdale auction was a tremendous success for Velocity, which broke viewer records “among households, persons 2+ and men 18+ in ratings and delivery,” the channel reported, cementing its relationship with Barrett-Jackson throughout 2015.

Barrett-Jackson’s new head auctioneer Joseph Mast
Barrett-Jackson’s new head auctioneer Joseph Mast

Perhaps the biggest change of the year was the replacement in August of Barrett-Jackson’s longtime lead auctioneer, Spanky Assiter, who had been the voice of Barrett-Jackson auctions since 1992. Also gone from the auction stage was Assister’s wife, Amy, a bidder assistant whose charismatic presence was popular among Barrett-Jackson regulars.

Barrett-Jackson characterized the severing of ties with Assiter as the result of a contract dispute. Company chairman Craig Jackson also said that it was time “to move onward and upward and bring on fresh blood and energy.”

Replacing Assiter was a young champion auctioneer, Joseph Mast, who heads the team of auctioneers and bidder assistants. Mast, the youngest winner of the prestigious International Auctioneers Championship in 2011 when he was 31, took over the Barrett-Jackson podium starting with the third annual Hot August Nights sale in Reno, Nevada.

Which leads to the third major change for Barrett-Jackson during 2015. Following the Hot August Nights auction, Barrett-Jackson announced that the sale would be the last during the Reno festival. No specific reason was given for the termination, although auction observers said the event had not met expectations.

A month later, it became apparent that Barrett-Jackson was broadening its reach with the announcement of a new summer auction to be held in Connecticut. The auction company’s first northeastern U.S. event, the sale is scheduled for July 23-25, 2016, at the Mohegan Sun resort and casino in Uncasville.

“This spreads us out – two on the West Coast, two on the East Coast,” Jackson said, referring to the company’s auctions in Scottsdale and Las Vegas in the west and Palm Beach, Florida, and Connecticut in the east in 2016.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


  1. Too bad. Craig Jackson is just all about Craig Jackson. Move onward and upward Craig. No loyalty whatsoever. Thar’s what happens when you get a few bucks in your pocket.

  2. Nothing more consistent than change…the Super Bowl of Car Auctions is still live and well….the changes made at Barrett Jackson are directly related to the upward trend of the collector car hobby and the industry it supports…not to me too the success of all the other auctions in North America and aboard….it’s alive and very well!

  3. Too bad I can’t watch this any longer since the broadcast moved to the Velocity Channel and I won’t pay the extra monthly Hi-Def charge just to watch that one channel. Wish they would go back to Discovery or stay on Fox Sports the entire broadcast.

  4. Wow, for a second I thought “big changes” would mean that they banned geezers in hawaiian shirts and pony tails! Whew, almost had me there. But what next, no more dressed-as-a-bummillionaires in worn out baseball caps? Reasonable prices for not-really-rare cars? Wait,strike that last one….

  5. Changes are supposed to be good, however, I can’t see the good by getting rid of Assitr and his wife, they were a big part of the auction. Also I don’ get velocity so i ccannot watch the c auction only when they are on discovery for one day. Craig Jackson is all about money and I am sure Spanky left because of it. Mecum auctions are better anyway. …

  6. Why were Vegas dates changed from mid-Sept to mid Oct. ? Anyone hear the ” real” none speculative reason?

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