Craig Jackson is the CEO of Barrett-Jackson, the country’s most well-known auction company, and he owns 108 vehicles — from muscle cars to sports cars and modern classics to resto-mods.
Immersed in the automotive world since he was a boy, Jackson recently attended the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) annual gathering in Las Vegas. He was our special guest for the latest episode of The Weekly Driver Podcast.
Co-hosts James Raia and John Berg spoke with Jackson inside the Barrett-Jackson trailer on the showroom floor in one of several exhibit halls that housed the massive automotive showcase.
Jackson, 63, discussed Barrett-Jackson’s legacy and details of his vast personal collection. He also shared his business philosophy and thoughts on the expanding electric vehicle industry segment.
“For an auction house to be over 50 years old, we’ve through a lot of changes,” said Jackson in the wide-ranging episode. “The changes are that when we first started it we were selling all pre-World War II cars. Then it evolved. It started changing when we decided to go after the cars that the ‘boomers’ like, muscle cars.”
Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, Barrett-Jackson began in 1971, as an expected one-time-only event. Its success prompted an annual auction. The Arizona event remained the showcase of the company’s auctions around the country. It starts each season and is scheduled for January 20-28, 2024.
Jackson took over full operations in 1995 following the death of his brother and his father. Jackson added vendors and live entertainment to the auction events.
Barrett-Jackson saw increased popularity when the Speedvision network, later Speed Channel, began broadcasting the auctions in 1996. It was the first collector car auction to be televised, and coverage has since continued across several channels.
“We are in the live event business,” Jackson said. “We are in a very passionate business. And what it’s all about is bringing new people into the hobby.”
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Hosted by James Raia and Bruce Aldrich, The Weekly Driver Podcast dives deep into the highways and byways of the automotive world. Each week, we put you in the driver’s seat, exploring unique, unusual, and often untold stories from across the industry’s spectrum.
Article Last Updated: November 9, 2023.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.