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Craig Jackson on Buying and Selling Collector Cars

Most Common Mistakes

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Tony and Michele: Even with the work you do upfront with buyers and sellers, what are some of the most common mistakes they make.

Craig Jackson: Buyers should have a good idea, especially first time buyers, of their goals, what are they buying the car for. Don't go buy a trailer queen if you're going to use it as a road rally car or to drive it all the time. Buy a car that's mechanically sound and in good shape…always buy, across the board, the best car you can afford.

If there's a softer part of the market right now, it's the lesser priced cars for rarity…it still takes the same amount of money to restore a lesser rare car as it does a very rare car. You can easily spend $100K restoring a car and if it's worth $80K when you're done, then you did it because you wanted to do it. It's still worth $80K. I have a very good customer from Scottsdale who's just buying restorations today.

Don't buy a car and think you're going to make money fixing it up if you don't have a shop, and you don't have the skill sets. It's not a winning combination. Don't go build a hot rod, that's not a money making proposition. Buy one that a guy has spent a fortune on, and a lot of hard work, and he's had his fun with it.

When we're consigning corvettes, we verify if it's a Top Flight. If a buyer comes in to buy a Top Flight car, that's what he's getting. But if you're looking for a car to go drive, then you shouldn't buy a Top Flight car.

Tony and Michele: If you look at Hagerty's Cars That Matter Index, it shows Muscle Car values have been hardest hit by the economic decline. How are the Muscle Cars selling in Las Vegas so far?

Craig Jackson: I thought the Muscle cars were bringing good prices. We sold a totally modified Nova for $179,000 last night. It all depends on the quality of the car. Here's the hard thing, unless you're the auction company doing it, to take auction results and come up with an analysis, because the rarest cars muscle cars aren't selling right now, it's more or less the second tier cars that are selling. You can't say a Boss 429 is bringing in less money today than it did years ago, it's just a lesser quality car.

We don't have any Hemi cars here this year, where at past auctions we have had six or seven. You have a much smaller sampling of a lesser sort of quality car…in some of them. I say that because of the super high quality of cars that were skewing the numbers a few years ago. So it's the amount of sampling and the quality of the sampling that you need to come up with for an analysis.

Tony and Michele: Resto-mods are a very interesting part your business and taking in some higher prices than originals.

Craig Jackson: When we first started selling those, the "Old Guard" all called and said we were absolutely out of our mind, because all we sold prior to that was classics and numbers matching muscle and fifties cars. Then we started bringing in modifieds and they thought it was sacrilege.

Well there are a number of people out there that just want to go have fun, they want to have dependability and luxury. And what's the difference if they go out and buy a brand new AMG or a car that's going to depreciate in value or they go out and buy a $100K resto-mod. It's more unique and depending on who built it, just as much technology and craftsmanship. If it's a name brand, a Chip Foose built car, it's got independent suspension underneath it, DVD player, real air conditioning, it starts, it runs on pump gas, it's pretty good stuff.

I have a resto-mod 67, it's a real Shelby, but it's like an Eleanor done with an all aluminum 427, modern air conditioning, four wheel disc brakes, modern suspension….it looks like a stock Shelby but every time I go out and hit the key it starts right up , it never overheats. I can drive around town with the air conditioning on and it's still blisteringly fast.

Tony and Michele: Barrett-Jackson has always been an innovator in the classic car hobby, can you give a glimpse of your ideas and concepts for the future?

Craig Jackson: No, because my competitors pay pretty good attention to what I do.

Tony and Michele: Well that's an easy answer but…

Craig Jackson: It is, but whatever I do they're quick to copy so I try not to give them a heads-up of what I'm going to do. You know I got chastised for years for going live on TV until they got a TV deal and then it was all okay.

My goal is to make the interaction with us as easy as possible. I put us on the web in "94" which was pretty far ahead of the curve. Had internet bidding in "97" and live on TV in "97". You could watch us on live TV and bid, that was way ahead of the curve.

This year we brought out an online catalog, but we didn't send it out as a pdf, it was a live dynamic link so if we changed something on our end, it updated the catalog. We are also trying to make it (website), and I don't want to say, well, so you can use it with any device shall I say.

We update Twitter all day long with every car we sell and Facebook, so we've embraced the social media…I don't want to say too much 'cause I hate thinking up everything for everyone else. We're always looking for more ways to make it as easy as possible for our customers.

Tony and Michele: Do you see yourself going global in three to five years?

Craig Jackson: Maybe, if it makes sense. We make go into some of the other markets, now is not the time. The whole world right now is going through the realization, still, of how they are going to fund everything they bite off.

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