Tuesdays are generally pretty mellow at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auctions, not too crowded and with a selection of not-too-pricey collector cars. But not this year. Ron Pratte changed all that.
This year, the WestWorld auction site was packed wall-to-wall Tuesday as more than 100 of Pratte’s prized cars, trucks, motorcycles, scooters and a Russian military boat crossed the block. The auction was the first blast of Pratte’s 140-vehicle collection, with the most valuable ones arriving in the mammoth arena Saturday, when who knows how many spectators and bidders will show up. Already, attendance is up more than 20 percent, according to the auction company.
Barrett-Jackson boosted its 2015 auction to nine days this year to accommodate the Pratte collection, which also includes more than 1,500 superb pieces of automobilia, among them hundreds of valuable antique gas-pump globes and scores of pristine neon signs.
Overall, Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction includes more than 1,600 vehicles from all consignors.
The sale Tuesday was like watching a decade of Barrett-Jackson history rolling by, since nearly every Pratte car was bought by him at Barrett-Jackson.
The top sale came early in the Pratte auction for a bright-red custom 1940 Ford pickup truck that had been started by the famed builder Boyd Coddington before his death. Pratte bought the truck and arranged to have it completed by Squeeg’s Kustoms, an Arizona shop where experts finished the truck in a style that stayed true to Coddington’s vision.
The finished truck is magnificent, powered by a 427-cid V8, and with just 200 miles since completion, and it sold for $374,000 (all sales results include the bidder fees).
A number of Boyd Coddington vehicles came out of Pratte’s collection, including a pair of 1940 Fords, a coupe and a convertible, that had been started by the maestro customizer but were never finished. They sold for $57,200 and $49,500, respectively.
The next-highest sale was for a rare and highly desirable performance car, an authentic 1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO 427 that went for $330,000. Shortly after came the sale of another dealer-created super Chevy, a 1969 Chevelle Yenko 427 for $275,000.
About 75 other vehicles were sold before the Pratte collection came up, with generally solid numbers, but things definitely picked up when his cars started going over. The crowd began to roar when three vehicles with Hollywood connections came up, with somewhat startling results.
First was a 1955 Pontiac Star Chief convertible that had appeared in the I Love Lucy TV series, which sold for a surprisingly high $220,000. But that was nothing compared with what came up next.
That was the famous jalopy truck from The Beverly Hillbillies, which was created to look homespun and decrepit by the “King of Kustomizers” George Barris. On board are manikins decked out like the Clampett family, although Ellie May’s dummy hardly does her justice. The truck sold for an amazing $275,000, probably bought by someone else who struck oil in the backyard.
Next up was perhaps the most evil car in film history, the 1958 Plymouth Fury used in the movie Christine. Restored to her former glory, you could almost see the sly glint in her headlights as she sold for $198,000 to some courageous bidder.
Some other notable sales:
• The 1978 Tupolev N007 Gullwing Boat, an amphibious craft designed by the former USSR to recover cosmonauts after their space flights, sold for $220,000.
• A custom 1954 Corvette by Boyd Coddington, $242,000.
• A 1956 Chrysler custom sportswagon, $242,000.
• A 1932 Ford custom roadster, $269,500.
• A custom 1955 Chevrolet Nomad wagon, $220,000.
• A rare 1956 BMW Isetta microcar convertible, at a lofty $93,500.
• A 1967 Amphicar (no auction is complete without one of these weird amphibious convertibles), which reached $79,200.
Among the oldest sports cars in the sale were a pair of early Fords; a 1909 Model T racer sold for $42,900 and an attractive Model T speedster hit $110,000.
Hagerty reports that total sales of Pratte vehicles Tuesday at Barrett-Jackson was $13.3 million.
Saturday’s sale will feature some real collector-car gems, such as Carroll Shelby’s personal 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake, which Pratte bought at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in 2007 for a then-record $5.5 million and which is expected to go through the roof again this time around; the unique, handbuilt 2007 Blastolene roadster, inspired by the great French coachbuilt cars of the 1930s; a 1953 Buick sedan once owned by Howard Hughes and custom fitted with his own eccentric touches; and the iconic Chezoom coupe built by Coddington as homage to the 1957 Chevy.
And perhaps the most famous vehicle of Pratte’s collection, the 1950 Futurliner, a gigantic tour bus used by General Motors for its traveling Parade of Progress exhibits, and which Pratte bought at Barrett-Jackson in 2006 for $4.2 million. Along with that is the sale of a GM Motorama concept car, the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special, purchased by Pratte at the same 2006 auction for $3 million.
For a look at the full auction results so far, see Barrett-Jackson’s website at barrett-jackson.com, and click on “docket.”