Craig Jackson remembers Burt Reynolds’ first visit to a Barrett-Jackson auction.
“I watch all your auctions on television,” Reynolds told Jackson. “I’m honored to be here.”
“I’m honored that you are here,” Jackson responded to the star of the 1977 movie, Smokey and the Bandit, which became a cult classic and propelled the Pontiac Trans Am to collector-car status.
Reynolds, who was “blown away” by his reception from the Barrett-Jackson bidders, had planned to be in Las Vegas this week for the sale of the last of his Smokey car collection, but the actor died September 6. He was 82.
“It’s sad that he won’t be here,” Jackson said. “this was going to be his big finale. It will be an honor to sell his last cars.”
Even without Reynolds on the block, the sale of those cars — two Trans Ams and a 1987 Chevrolet pickup that is a re-creation of a vehicle from Reynolds’ film Cannonball Run — figure to provide one of the emotional highlights of the auction, which runs Thursday through Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip.
The sale will be the 11th annual in Vegas for Barrett-Jackson, and will be the largest, at least in terms of the number of vehicles on offer. Also large is the diversity of the docket.
“It’s a good Vegas docket,” Jackson said, explaining that each of the company’s auctions has a different mix, and that at Las Vegas, “we get a lot of ‘drivers,’ some modern supercars, cars for instant gratification.”
While there are few pre-war vehicles, there are plenty of resto-mods, vehicles from the 1950s, ‘60s and even more recent that have modern power and drivetrains and other contemporary accoutrements designed to make them more enjoyable to drive.
“It’s a Barrett-Jackson thing,” Jackson said. “You have celebrities. You have charity cars. We have an assortment of (high-horsepower Dodge) Demons and Shelbys. It’s just a nice mix of cars across the board.”
The sale also features cars from two significant collections — the Brian Frank Collection and the John Staluppi Jr. Collection — and also marks the conclusion of Barrett-Jackson’s year-long Driven Hearts charity campaign.
Driven Hearts raises money for the American Heart Association and its efforts to reduce heart disease and stroke. Vehicles donated to be sold at Las Vegas to benefit the battle are a 50th Anniversary 2015 Ford Shelby GT350, a 1956 Ford Thunderbird (from the Bryan Frank Collection) and a 1995 Celebrity 310 Sport Cruise boat.
But Driven Hearts isn’t the only charity to benefit from the auction.
A 2018 Ford F-150 customized by Petty’s Garage will be sold Thursday to raise money for the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Friday, a 2018 Can-Am Spyder F3-T hero-themed custom 3-wheel motorcycle will be sold for the Project Road Warrier Foundation.
Saturday, a 2018 Ford Mustang GT premium coupe wrapped with one-of-a-kind Las Vegas Golden Knights insignia will be up for bidding to benefit the local Grant a Gift Autism Foundation, and players from the division-champion NHL team will be at the auction to sign autographs.
A year ago, in the aftermath of the mass murder of people attending an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, Barrett-Jackson raised more than $1 million for the Las Vegas recovery effort. This year, cars will cross the block with special “STRONG” license plates in remembrance of the tragedy and its victims, and such plates will be available for purchase with a portion of proceeds going to the Driven Hearts program.
The license plates pay homage to the one-year anniversary, Jackson said, adding that it’s a remembrance that Las Vegas is “moving on, and we’re strong.”
The Bryan Frank Collection of more than two dozen cars includes not only the ’56 T’bird, but a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427 convertible, a 1953 Buick Skylark convertible, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 RS, a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette and a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville.
The Staluppi Jr. Collection has consigned 15 vehicles to the auction, including the 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SEL owned for many years by Elvis Presley. Also from the collection are a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air custom convertible, a 2017 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro, a custom 1969 Dodge Charger Hemi, and several other muscle cars.
Nearly all of the cars on the Las Vegas docket will be offered with no reserve price set by the consignor. High bid gets the car. But there are a couple of exceptions, including a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder.
“The market looks strong,” Jackson said. “I’m seeing all good signs. The good cars are selling across the board, no matter what category.”
As far as his Las Vegas auction, Jackson added that Barrett-Jackson is both an entertainment and auction company.
“Come and enjoy, it’s not just an auction,” he said.
But, he added, it also is an auction, “and we’re actually selling the cars.”