Barrett-Jackson’s Fields of Steel

You don’t notice people at Barrett-Jackson.

It seems obvious to say that, but you really don’t. The only time you ever notice anyone else wandering up and down the rows of cars waiting for auction inside Mandalay Bay are when you accidentally run into them, or they growl at you angrily for stepping in the frame for your picture. 

Which is a fair complaint, but it’s impossible not to get blinded by the sheen coming off hundreds of hoods. It’s enough to make you ache for the buffer repair concession at the show. But you do have to keep your head up — its’ not uncommon to see cars driving up and down the aisles, on the red carpet. The metphor isn’t lost.

All those lovely rides piled in together in a glittering row has a sympathetic effect. Even the ugly cars — the boxy ’70s Plymouths, the bubbly ’90s Mustangs, the ex-NASCAR Monte Carlo monstrosities — look gorgeous in gleaming chrome and shining paint. But it’s even better with the two staples of the show: Old Corvettes and enough Cobras to fill a snake pit. Carol Shelby’s ghost must be at ease looking in on the Mustang after Mustang after Mustang ready to go up on the block.

The auction itelf is another story, with an endless line of rides running up $20,000-plus tabs every two and a half minutes. You’re hard-pressed not to fling your hand up on ’71 ‘Vette, until you remember you don’t have 19 grand just chilling in the bank.