Last week I showed you guys what Barrett-Jackson is all about: amazing cars, mega-dollar sales and lots of excitement. It really is ‘the greatest collector car auction’ they claim it to be. What I didn’t mention was that we would have one of our own taking part in the auction, and that I would be tagging along with my camera (with some help from friend and photographer Justin Muir) to capture the whole experience.
About a month ago, I got a text from Vaughn Gittin Jr. saying that he would be in Scottsdale for the auction and that he would like to put some miles on the Double Down RTR while he was here. Of course it wasn’t a problem for him to drive his car that he’s letting me hoon around in for the time being, but my interest was also piqued as to why he was coming to Barrett-Jackson in the first place.
I knew Ford always had a strong presence at the auction, so I figured he would be doing some drift demos or meeting with the executives, but I was shocked when he told me his actual reason. He would be selling the Mothers Spec 3 RTR that debuted at SEMA a couple of years ago. I remember the car well and I’m sure you do too. At first I couldn’t fathom why he would let it go, but once he explained that all the proceeds would go to charity, I started to understand where he was coming from. Here’s where I found the familiar RTR early in the auction week, polished up and parked with the rest of the cars that were about to be auctioned off.
On the opening night we headed down to find the RTR and Vaughn. I will admit I was pretty excited as we walked in with our media passes and camera gear. As many times as I’ve watched cars roll across the block, I’d never been up there myself.
Before long we bumped into Vaughn along with Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation. Barrett-Jackson has established a Cancer Research Fund at the TGen Foundation, and 100% of the proceeds from the RTR sale would be going directly to the fund.
We gathered near the tent where they staged cars before pulling them inside the building. You can only get in here with a special pass, and it’s a great chance to not only see all of the cars but hear them too as they are shuffled around and lined up.
Jim Holloway, Vice President of Mothers Polish, was behind the wheel of the 650hp supercharged RTR. Believe me, a lot of heads turned when the supercharged Coyote engine fired up under the tent!
While Jim moved the car up the line, Vaughn did a pre-auction interview with Fox.
Usually Barrett-Jackson assigns a driver to each car (sounds like a fun job, right?) but in special circumstances they allow other people to drive the cars in. It could be the owner, a celebrity, or maybe a famous driver who once raced the car. Since Jim would be driving the Spec 3, he received instructions from one of the pros.
Within just a few minutes it was time to line the car up for the grand entrance.
While all of this was going on, potential buyers were popping in to scope out the car. Every car has a description and lot number placed on the dash, and you can learn a lot about a car by reading it.
Once the car was lined up, Mr. Holloway took a few minutes for the TV cameras too. Our sharpest readers will notice Jarod DeAnda in the background. He came along to study the auctioneer’s microphone technique and drink free beer.
Vaughn got his mic hooked up for the stage.
He also took a few last photos of the car and framed magazine articles that would be sold with it.
At one point, Vaughn told me that this was the only project car he has ever sold. We all knew it was going for a great cause, but it was obvious he still felt some attachment to the project too.
I think everyone had the jitters for one reason or another, but soon it was time to go. Put your game face on!Ready to rock
As we walked inside the auction hall there were dozens of people tagging along. Some wore Mothers or Ford shirts, others were bidders, friends or workers at Barrett-Jackson. The barriers were lined with spectators – a good sign that they were expecting an exciting auction.
To go with the RTR, the new owner was getting a second set of special HRE wheels for the track.
I have to say, as a car guy I was impressed by this. Someone in the crew had the foresight to bring 2×6 boards, knowing the RTR would be too low to get up the ramp without dragging the custom carbon fiber splitter.
I’m pretty sure I heard the splitter scrape the carpet just a bit, but all was well and the car was in.
After easing the car off the boards, Jim gunned the blown 5.0 up the ramp.
Immediately everyone jumped into action. Three or four people wiped the car down while another guy popped the hood for the TV camera.
After a few introductions by Vaughn, Jim, TGen President Michael Bassoff and even Craig Jackson himself, the bidding was under way. Look at all those people on stage with the car!
The price climbed fast. $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, and $40,000 were bid in an instant.
Potential bidders crowded in to get one last look.
A couple of times Craig Jackson cut in to add some commentary; maybe something about the car or Vaughn to try to push the auction a little further. It gave the bidders a split second to think, but then the auctioneer was back to freestyling numbers before you knew it.
The bidders assistants were all over the place: on the stage, on the floor, up in the stands. Wherever there was a potential buyer, these guys were coaxing them to place a bid. When one of them did, you would hear a distinct shout and the auctioneer would move up to the next price.
Barrett-Jackson is known for having models in signature red dresses on stage with the cars. This time they had to hold the framed magazines and I heard one of them saying “Come on already, these are heavy!” Fortunately they found the tire rack to rest on.
As the price kept climbing I circled the car with a wide lens trying to get a shot between all the people. I was glad we planned ahead and Justin was shooting from the the crowd. As you can see he had a great view from his spot.
We did our best to document the fast-paced bidding, and the price just kept on climbing.
Since the auction is broadcast on television, there’s always a TV camera and host on stage giving details about the cars. They opened the hood to show the engine and give some specs.
The bidding had come down to two guys who both wanted the car. The auctioneer slowed down and gave each of them a chance to outdo the other.
$95,000… $100,000! The crowd erupted as the RTR hit six figures.
Two guards started pushing the car off stage before the auction was even closed.
But the guy who wanted it the most got one last bid in and the hammer dropped. Sold!
I looked up at the monitor that faces the stage to see a final price of $110,000. It was the highest of the day, and even better, it was all going towards cancer research.Sold, sold, sold!
Someone slapped a SOLD sticker on the windshield and the crew got out their trusty boards to safely ease the RTR off the auction block.
We all followed the car out of the building, but I had no idea what would happen next. Would they just go and park it somewhere? Or could the new owner jump in and drive away?
Turns out the next stop is a special backdrop for photo ops with the seller, the buyer, the car and if you’re really lucky, Craig Jackson.
It was pretty cool to see the car guy come out in Mr. Jackson as he bantered with the others. Everyone was riding high from the great sale that just took place.
Vaughn and Jim did more TV interviews and we snapped a few stills in the harsh TV camera lighting.
I overheard Vaughn ask the new owner why he’d bought the car, and we were all wondering the same thing. Maybe he was a die-hard Mustang guy or really wanted to help the Cancer Research Fund at TGen? To our surprise he had a simple answer, one that really validates what Vaughn has done with RTR brand: “I just liked the way it looked.” It was such a matter-of-fact reason that I think it surprised all of us.
There was one last thing Jim remembered, and that was to take the CD out of the CD player! Actually, Mothers had made a custom CD with driving music to rock out to in the RTR – a really nice gesture for the new owner.
We took the obligatory ‘handing over the key’ picture before parting ways.
Then the Mothers RTR Spec 3 drove off into the night. After the auction, I asked Vaughn how he felt seeing the RTR in someone else’s hands…
“I had a whirlwind of mixed emotions. I get attached to my project cars and I think because I’m passionate about them all, I have never parted with one. When the hammer hit and I heard “Sold!” my first thought was “It’s gone.” From instinct, I immediately went through the process of the build and the success of the project, as well as wishing I had taken more time to enjoy it. I started to go towards a frown, then I looked up at the screen and saw that $110k number, and the reality of the situation hit me. The reality of not only selling an RTR for $110k but that the money is going to be helping A LOT of people have a better life through TGen and that makes me happier than the car ever could have. In the end, I’m super pumped and extremely proud. Considering where this journey of RTR started just five years ago, it’s actually pretty surreal!”