The national unemployment is a shade under 8% and dropping. This favorable economic statistic is indicative of the rebounding economy and that fiscal growth is readily apparent at the Barrett-Jackson car auction in Scottsdale, AZ. The final numbers for the auction, that ended on Sunday, January 20, are staggering and to a certain degree hard to fathom: 1,343 car sold. $108,766,069 in gross sales and 300,000 folks in attendance for the week long event.
My own ride would never be on the next Barrett-Jackson auction block. I drive a a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta, that I occasionally refer to as “Ugly Betty”. It's a good car, reliable, and it get me where I have to go without a complaint. A bit rough around the edges with a cracked windshield, two missing wheel covers, no rear view mirror and a broken stereo but it wears its 175,000 miles well.
With that said, I can't really relate to a lot of the spending at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Az. I like the cars I see but most cost more than the house I currently call home. If anything this auction is a boutique for those that don't fall below Mitt Romney's definition of the middle class and they are likely buying cars that they will never drive. Cars that will be stowed away in garages from many that could also appreciate seeing a rare ride.
And yet, while sitting on the main floor of West World and watching the gavel drop every few minutes, I began to realize that this auction was not a class war between parties with divergent socio-econmic status. No, I and most of the folks here will never be able to afford any car up for bid but that isn't the point.
In the same manner that I watch football and root for the Chicago Bears this auction also exists because ultimately both are for entertainment and dreaming the unobtainable dream. Most of the folks here are not customers, they're fans of classic cars and exotic rides.
By the same token I watch a lot of football and I will never run a sub 4.3 40-yard dash, like Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans. And it stands to reason that I will never throw a pass like the modern Mad Bomber, Jay Cutler.
For one week a year visitors of the Barrett-Jackson auction get to enjoy being in an ephemeral state of bliss. The cars are only affordable to a wealthy few but any and all can admire a form of art that often needs to be in a museum.
This notion of suspending reality was never more apparent than during the showing and subsequent sale of the original Batmobile. The 1966 TV show's version of Batman's ride ultimately sold for $4.62 million.
Even with 1,342 other cars sold the 1966 Batmobile was the star of the auction and its selling price, the second highest for a single car at any Barrett-Jackson auction, is indicative of a car that is timeless and an American icon. Many fans weren't born when the Dynamic Duo defended Gotham City in George Barris' greatest creation but that is a moot point. Some symbols, some icons and all childhood memories transcend space and time.
The Batmobile draws a crowd from Fanboys and car aficionados alike. Even with Chris Nolan's current Batman trilogy setting box office records it will never hold the same memories as Adam West's and Burt Ward's version of the Batman and Robin. The current Dark Knight drives the Tumbler. A battering ram and a merciless concoction of torque, firepower and from a concept developed by a government defense contract. Strong, powerful and sterile. It lacks flavor and probably won't become timeless like its 60's forefather.
Yes, the 1966 Batmobile is dated and campy but it can also remind people of a simpler era when Batman wasn't the Dark Knight. The Joker was once full of mischief and not malicious. And Catwoman used to be more of a vixen, or diva, as opposed to her current cat burglar incarnation in S&M leather.
I enjoyed the recent Batman movies, I own all three and watch them way too often, but I was raised on Adam West's take on the Caped Crusader. This scribe took quite a few pics, a dozen to be exact, on his iPhone of the Batmobile. Not as a reporter but as a fan.