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A Morning with Craig Jackson, Part Two

This is part two of our exclusive interview with Craig Jackson, owner and CEO of Barrett Jackson Auctions. Part One can be found on our main page.

A few weeks ago, at the 19th Annual McPherson College Auto Restoration Program CARS Club Show, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Craig Jackson, owner and CEO of Barrett Jackson Auctions. This is part two of that conversation.

BH: Is your son part of your company, or will he be?

CJ: I don’t know. He’s going to college for four years. I don’t think he’ll run it. I think he’ll do stuff he likes to do like writing, social media. He wants to be a journalist. He loves writing, he loves telling stories, and he loves everything social media-wise. It’s his passion. My daughter ran our social media for several years. She went out to work for another company, and I think she’s going to start her own company, and maybe I'll be her client. It's good. My dad made me go be independent at a young age, and I cussed and screamed at it him about it, but it was good for me. It forced me to learn to be independent at a young age. The first car that I restored, I did some in-house when I was still with my dad. I did a lot of cars for him. The Dalahaye was one of them, that was in ‘86. I think the first time we showed it was in ‘87. Then, when I did that J-12 for Don Williams, that’s when I started my own restoration company. I did a lot of great classics. I like that part of taking something, and you're on your own to go do it. Win, lose, or draw, it's on me. Taking it to Pebble Beach, and having it up on the stage. I was doing that almost every year when I was in my early twenties. I think other than Phil, I think I was one of the younger ones to do that.

BH: Speaking of enjoying your cars, do you have a favorite, or have you had a favorite?

CJ: You know, it’s like asking which kid do you like better. It changes. In driving cars, I love my Veyron, although I just got my Ford GT, and it's a real kick in the ass.

BH: Is that your Gulf Blue GT that is here this weekend?

CJ: No, mine is black. It’s black with red stripes, Barrett Jackson colors. I made it match our Barrett Jackson Shelbys. In older cars, like Muscle Cars, I like my Hemi ‘Cuda convertible, I’ll probably never sell that car, my ZL-1, I love my Cobra. I’m restoring a couple of great Shelbys.

The Green Hornet (a 1968 Shelby GT500 known as EXP 500) is going through a full restoration right now. And I talked about this last night, the internet and the research that everybody's doing is making cars that we restored 20-30 years ago, we realize we took our best guess. Now we’ve got more documentation. Even cars I restored; pictures have come out that we didn't know about. Like that Hispano has changed drastically. All I had was that rendering to go by, and they got more pictures of the car later. Some things that I had to guess at. I was close but not exact, and you go back through the car. The Green Hornet, it was a prototype car, and now that we found more documentation on it, that car will be exactly the way it was to the point in time I want to restore it. I'm excited about that. Maybe that'll be my next favorite car. I love the car.

BH: Do you think the availability of information has improved concours like Pebble Beach and Amelia Island?

CJ: I think there's disinformation out there, but there's also a lot of information. It's coming from the heads of clubs and stuff like that. I think that sharing the stuff through the clubs is a valuable thing. Books that were written 20-30 years ago are now so outdated because a journalist did the best job he could back at the time, but it’s nothing like now. That's why we employ all these experts that have such databases. Even as the cars went through a production year, they changed. Updates, changes in suppliers, shortages, strikes, all that; you can't say that this car at the start of the year and this car at the end of the year should be identical. We know better nowadays. Yeah, my ZL1 didn't come with all the stuff on it that the all the others did. It is a second-to-last car made, at the end of the strike, and whatever was on the shelf, that's what got put on it. I bought it from the original owner. If you want to argue with him, he says, “I don't know how yours came, but that's exactly how mine came.”

BH: What are your hopes for Barrett Jackson in the future?

CJ: I’m going to stay involved in the business, but I'm ready to enjoy life. I've reached that point in my life where I think I built a great team. We are building a great new headquarters at Scottsdale, with a shop. I want to be involved in all aspects, but start giving more of this to other guys and mentoring more people. That’s just got to be the way it is. You can’t keep the pace I have been at forever, or you’ll burn out. I’m not burnt out, but I realize my limitations, and I also realize you're only on this Earth so long, and I want to enjoy my cars, and enjoy my customers and enjoy life. You just reach that point, and I'm at that point where I realize I want to work smarter, not harder. I'm still very much day-to-day. I’m CEO, and also almost CTO…