Major car auctions give boost to Ariz. economy

Posted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The bidding is on and this week, millions of dollars and hundreds of cars will change hands in Arizona with major car auctions all over the Valley.

But the action in the bidding tents is just the starting offer, according to Debbie Johnson with the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association.

"They may be going to the auction during the day," she said, "but it is not just the auction that is benefiting. They are staying at a hotel, they are eating at restaurants, they are shopping in our retail establishments, they are playing golf."

According to Johnson, events like these auctions spend more than $18 billion in Arizona.

But even longer term, "They bring people in who buy houses, who buy a part-time house," she said. "Many people move their business here because they fall in love with the community and the destination."

That is exactly what happened with Gooding and Company.

"Ever since I was a kid I came to the Scottsdale auctions,"  David Gooding said.

So when he founded his own auction, "It was always a natural that we wanted to  come here."

He said the Valley's reputation as a car buyer's paradise, is just good business.

"We have collectors that come from Europe, England and, of course, all over the United States to not only attend our auction but go to the other auctions and connect up with old friends."

And despite the competition, he said each auction has its own specialty.

"We're always looking for the finest everything, the finest example that we can find," Gooding said.

At Gooding that means buyers can see themselves driving off in the headline Ferrari California Spider expected to fetch at least $5 million.

"Beautiful to look at," Gooding said. "They're incredible to drive and, to me, one of the most important elements is they sound fantastic."

But buyers may also see the treasure buried under layers of dust on a dust-covered Lancia.

"It is an unrestored, basically one-owner car, that has been locked away in a barn and it has got a wonderful story," Gooding explained. "So it is truly, I think, the finest Lancia that has come to market in a long time."

Or their jaw may drop at the beauty of a $2 million Duesenberg,

"Here is a 1930's American car that would do over 100 miles an hour," Gooding said. "It is beautiful, it is fast, it is big, it is powerful."

And part of a powerful draw that lets all of us win when the bidding starts, adding up to a bonus for all of us, according to Gooding.

"There is a lot of tax dollars raised and a lot of commerce that goes on," he said.

The $2.6 billion visitors pay in sales taxes every year adds up to more than $1,000 for each Arizona taxpayer.

The Gooding and Company Auctions runs through Saturday at Scottsdale Fashion Square.