WHY NO RESERVE WORKS: Barrett-Jackson’s unique auction format produces results that keep sellers happy

Hundreds of eager bidders fill the auction arena at every Barrett-Jackson event.


Barrett-Jackson continually sets the pace in the collector car world with its innovative No Reserve auction format. Barrett-Jackson auctions represent true snapshots of the market, where trends are frequently established and record prices are set.

No Reserve auctions are the exception in the collector car hobby. Most of the high-frequency auctions out there these days are exactly the opposite, having a large percentage of cars cross the block with a Reserve – an undisclosed minimum sale price set by the seller.

pullquote 1As is often the case at these types of auctions, sellers have unrealistic expectations of what their vehicle is worth, and the Reserve is set too high. If bidding on this type of Reserve car stalls, the auctioneers may try to get the seller to drop the Reserve, but if that doesn’t happen, that car simply doesn’t sell.

In 2005, Barrett-Jackson rocked the world by offering all of the cars at its Scottsdale Auction at No Reserve.  This unprecedented high-energy format continued through 2011 when, at the request of some top consignors, a very small fraction of Reserve Lots were offered for vehicles with particularly remarkable provenance and originality. To this day, only a handful of the cars at Barrett-Jackson auctions are offered with a Reserve – and, as the company’s unparalleled sell-through rate indicates, most of the cars do sell.

While it is understandable that some consignors want the comfort of a Reserve, it can also be viewed as a restriction. For various reasons, collectors will bid hesitantly – or not bid at all – as they wait for the Reserve to be lifted. That hesitation may negatively impact momentum. Ultimately, your collector car is currently worth what someone will pay for it. In a Barrett-Jackson No Reserve auction, with the substantial number of prequalified bidders, healthy competition ensues.

At every Barrett-Jackson auction, the arena is filled with hundreds of prequalified bidders, eager to come home with the car of their dreams.

At every Barrett-Jackson auction, the arena is filled with prequalified bidders, eager to come home with the car of their dreams.

“When well-presented, No Reserve cars are put in front of a large audience, which is what you typically find at a Barrett-Jackson auction, fair prices all around tend to be realized,” once said Brian Rabold, Vice President of Valuation Services for Hagerty. “Barrett-Jackson’s No Reserve auctions take overly optimistic sellers out of the equation, the sales are high on energy, and buyers bid freely, knowing that someone with a paddle is going home with the car in question.”

  • Barrett-Jackson’s No Reserve auction format provides an unrestricted, honest and competitive bidding environment. As each bid counts, buyers are committed to the process. Bidders “stay on the gas” until they get what they want, knowing the car will go home with the last bidder standing. Buyers attend Barrett-Jackson auctions because they trust that cars are truly for sale.
  • Yet there’s more to the Barrett-Jackson No Reserve format. The company creates a level playing field by ensuring that each bidder is prequalified. Consignors are also prohibited from bidding on their own vehicles, and Barrett-Jackson helps enforce this policy by using the latest technology.
  • Transparency and ethics are important parts of the formula and the cornerstone of how Barrett-Jackson does business. In fact, Barrett-Jackson has been named one of the most ethical auction companies in the world. Each auction transaction is conducted in a fair, consistent manner, and sellers receive their proceeds in a timely manner.
  • Sales data from prior auctions is published on Barrett-Jackson.com in real time. You’ll find an accurate snapshot of actual prior transactions for the thousands of vehicles previously sold at Barrett-Jackson. You can learn more about the Results Archive by clicking here.
The Barrett-Jackson Experience magazine is published four times a year, leading up to each of the company's auctions.

The Barrett-Jackson Experience magazine is published four times a year, leading up to each of the company’s auctions.

  • A comprehensive marketing strategy for cars consigned to Barrett-Jackson auctions – which includes the power of Barrett-Jackson.com, the Beyond The Block app and the Barrett-Jackson Experience magazine – creates the ability to expose your collector vehicle to an incredible number of potential buyers. During an auction cycle, average stats include 1.4 million sessions, with 5.6 million page views, on Barrett-Jackson.com. The circulation of the Experience magazine is targeted to known and qualified collector car buyers from Barrett-Jackson’s exclusive database. Match all this up with a master plan incorporating digital newsletters, social media, print and digital advertising, and the immense power of Barrett-Jackson’s No Reserve auctions will bring buyers to you.
  • Barrett-Jackson’s registered bidders typically obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in bank letters of guarantee, providing unparalleled buying strength across the four Barrett-Jackson auctions. With thousands of registered bidders, less than half ultimately could have gone home with a car, which is in part what creates Barrett-Jackson’s strong No Reserve market.

The company’s resources, expertise and nearly half-century of success in the collector car auction industry combine to ensure auction participants – buyers, sellers and spectators alike – get a clear picture of what’s happening on the block and, just as importantly, what’s been happening behind the scenes to ensure an authentic auction experience.

“Our company is based on car experts who have built their lives around this hobby,” says Barrett-Jackson Chairman and CEO Craig Jackson. “Real car guys, passionate car guys.”

pullquote 2One significant factor that makes Barrett-Jackson stand out is its stellar team of nationally recognized automotive experts. This illustrious team’s assignment at each auction is to review certain high-end and rare cars that may be represented, by the consignor, as having matching numbers or documented with exceptional show provenance. The process begins well before the auction starts, with the experts looking at the docket and referring to their unparalleled access to special databases and historical records. “Barrett-Jackson is unquestionably a leader in putting so much time and effort in attempting to substantiate that certain rare and high-end cars are what consignors say they are,” points out Jackson. “Experts, processes, transparency, trust … that’s what differentiates Barrett-Jackson from other collector car auctions.”

Since 1971, thousands of cars each year have crossed the Barrett-Jackson auction block at No Reserve. If you have any doubts about the No Reserve format being right for you, speak with a Barrett-Jackson Automotive Specialist or, better yet, attend a Barrett-Jackson auction in person. If possible, register as a bidder to fully appreciate the quality of our buyers and the quality of our marketplace.

To find out more about selling your car at a Barrett-Jackson auction and fill out a no-obligation preliminary consignment request form, click HERE.

To find out how to become a bidder at a Barrett-Jackson auction, click HERE.