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Desert Gems | Barrett-Jackson 2023

Photos and Words by Owen Rumpel

January 31, 2023

It’s January 2023 and for the most part, the auto world feels like normal again. Race events are taking place as usual, car meets are popping up, enthusiasts are going out and auctions are gaining attendees. Nowhere has this been more apparent than at Barrett-Jackson’s flagship auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event started off strong with a record breaking attendance for the opening weekend and didn’t slow down there, attendance records continued to be set as well as incredible milestones being passed. On January 27th, Barrett-Jackson surpassed $150 million raised for charity to date with the sale of a beautiful 2021 Shelby Super Snake built by Count’s Kustoms. Along side the many charity auction vehicles and rare super cars there are the completely unique builds and storied vehicles that are scattered around the auction, the following are just a few that caught my eye.

Tucked in next to a custom Cadillac sat this beautiful 1972 De Tomaso Pantera. Built by Gary Hall for Thomas McMahon Ford, this No. 12 of 19 is fitted with a Gurney Eagle 351ci V8 engine paired with a 5 speed manual transmission. Even with the lowered floorboards and custom GT40 tribute style seats, there is a level of comfort that hasn’t been overlooked. A charged up air conditioning system, Alpine Bluetooth stereo, custom interior mats and yellow Pantera seat belts to match the $30,000 USD paint job are just some of the features and details that make this car pop.

1972 De Tomaso Pantera Custom Cupe, Hammer Price $236,500.00 USD

Under one of the many outside tents you’d have found this 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, though it is far from a regular Beetle. Looking like what I’d imagine Mad Max would have driven if the movie took place on paved streets, this completely custom ride sits roughly 0 inches off the ground with its full length wrapped exhausts acting like asphalt heaters when the custom built chassis on air ride is apparently set to parking break. Fitted with a twin-turbo small block Chevrolet 383ci V8 and a 4 speed automatic transmission, you’ll need to hold on when you take this Volkswagen out for a drive.

1968 Volkswagen Beetle Custom Coupe, Hammer Price $15,400.00 USD

Rolling through the staging lanes and onto the auction block on Super Saturday was this 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT beautifully finished in Cashmere White Mango. Only being produced for two years in a GT spec, AMG managed to squeeze 583hp with 479 ft/lbs. of torque from the already impressive 6.2L V8 engine with a 6 speed automatic transmission. When the gull wing doors open, they reveal an amazing Titanium Grey two-tone interior package. With a great paint job, carbon fibre trim package and 19/20 10-spoke forged black wheels, this is definitely a head turner.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT, Hammer Price $242,000.00 USD

Sitting behind bars for what I’d like to think is security for the public and not the car is a vehicle fit for a masked vigilante. Though it may not be the original, this 1989 Batmobile re-creation is something else. Sliding back the canopy reveals a two seater cockpit with enough buttons and switches to feel like an 80’s fighter jet. The functioning, dual mounted, gas powered and spark ignited prop guns can let off loud enough bangs to scare the bad guys away with sound alone if the rear flame thrower didn’t already. This re-creation is powered by a functioning Boeing jet engine producing 365hp, allowing a 0-60mph (0-97km/h) of 3.9 seconds at the expense of a 3-10 mpg (78-24 L/100 km) on jet fuel, kerosene or diesel. I can’t guarantee this vehicle will make you Batman but I am sure that it would make Michael Keaton proud.

1989 Batmobile Re-Creation, Hammer Price $220,000.00 USD

I’ve saved the best for last, a true piece of racing history and auto culture, of such significance it was parked front and centre along side million dollar super cars. A 1966 Shelby Group II Mustang would sit un-note worthy if it weren’t for the fact that it was built for Ken Miles and accompanied by an accomplished race pedigree. One of only 16 Shelby Group II Mustangs built in 1966 and specifically for Shelby American driver Ken Miles, who tragically passed away before he could have a chance to drive it. Shortly after Miles’ death, the car was sold to John McComb on the 24th of August, 1966. McComb went on to win the Trans-American Sedan Championship in 1966 along with other first place victories in 1966 races such as the Pan-American Trans-Am and the Continental Divide SCCA National. Following over 30 documented races with McComb, the car was sold to Keith Thomas in 1967 and won first place in the 1968 SCCA National where it set a Sedan lap record and tied the second fastest lap ever at Lake Afton. With an un-broken record of ownership, this Carroll Shelby signed Mustang is powered by a Shelby American Racing 289 Hi-Po V8 with a BorgWarner T10 close-ratio 4 speed manual transmission. The story behind this car and the popularity of Ford/Shelby history brought on by pop culture works such as the 2019 film Ford v Ferrari, are selling points all on their own. I can’t begin to explain how special it was to see this car in person and I hope everyone can have the same opportunity.

1966 Shelby Group II Mustang Built for Ken Miles, Hammer Price $770,000.00 USD

The Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale Arizona has become an annual tradition for us here at Raceline Media, and is what seems to be the yearly kickoff of anything car related. With everything from automobilia, resto-mods, classic cars, collector cars and new vehicles, Barrett-Jackson has something for everyone. Whether you watch it on T.V., tune in live on their website or visit in person, Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale along with their other annual auctions should be a must for any car enthusiast and we highly recommend you take a look at their next event. Until next year, this has been RLM in Scottsdale.


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