Monday, January 23, 2017

Cars Cars and More Cars

Barrett-Jackson is one of the largest automotive auction events in North America. The past week and half the auction was taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona. It is one of the best places to find the classic cars of the past along side the new innovative cars of the future on display for all to see. This event is also the best place to see popular culture develop in the automotive industry. Automotive vehicles have long been a item for collectors. Sitting at the auction, I found myself wondering why on earth did someone just pay $155,000 for a 1955 Bel Air when they could have bought the brand new 2017 Corvette Grand Pro for thousands of dollars cheaper. Than an awesome 2016 Ford Mustang gets up on the auction block and if I had the money I would have been willing to pay into the $90,000 for it, yet it sold for $60,000. By than I started to realize the audience I was in and who is winning the bids. It was a much older generation from myself that was walking away with the vehicles on the bidding block.

For me this is an example of popular discrimination in the automotive industry. John Fisk mentioned that over time there is a shift that occurs for economically valuable items compared to similar items of the past (2005). The generation of bidders who were placing the highest bids were part of generation that valued older automobiles, classics, customs, and originals. This generation was also on the other half of their careers which means that essentially they should be more financially sound than myself. When a group has the financial backing to demand the market at an auction than they are able to set the prices for the automobiles. I still cannot understand how these bidders could justify the amounts of money they were spending for the older classic automobiles when they could easily bought an automobile that had the present top of the line performance parts.

Barrett-Jackson was also backed by a lot of star power over the week and a half. Justin Bieber, Burt Reynolds, Floyd Mayweather, and Dale Ernhardt Jr. were just a couple of the celebrities on display at the auction. Looking deeper into the reasoning for their appearances at the auction, they all had financial motives to be there. They were all promoting cars that they they were finically involved with in some way. Stuart Hall's second definition for "popular" are things people have done or do (2005). Mayweather is arguably the best boxer to ever live. Ernhardt Jr. is a decorated Nascar driver. Reynolds is an accomplished actor in Hollywood. Bieber is a successful music artist. Essentially, their accomplishments have made them popular by society standards and so it is to no surprise that their cars fetched some of the highest bids ever at the auction. Below is a link to an article detailing their car's selling price at the auction. People seemed to have a history of paying a high price for celebrity cars because history in car auctions has shown that the popularity of the celebrity carries over into increasing the value of the car in the future.

1) What would it take to shift the popularity of an older product to a newer product?

2) What other areas besides the automotive industry is the popularity of an item determined by a specific age generation?

3) If you were to try and control "the masses" how would you go about doing it in order to sway public opinion?

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