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The beginning of Arizona's Barrett-Jackson auction shows no letup in buyer interest, with thousands pursuing the collector cars of their dreams

Investors often look to January to take the stock market's temperature. If the first day of Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction is a similar bellwether for the collector car market, then 2006 looks to pick up where 2005 left off. Sale prices continue to be strong as the number of registered bidders climbs.

The average buyer at Barrett-Jackson, however, seems less concerned with issues such as originality and authenticity as "scratching an itch." They see it, they want it now. Many of these buyers are attending their first auction and purchasing their first collector car. And the figures bear this out: Lance Young, the head of sales for FedEx Custom Critical Passport Auto Transport, a collector car shipper on site, estimates that 60% of his customers are first-timers.

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