A LASTING LEGACY: Nellie Jackson – Treasure of the Collector Car Hobby
Nellie when she received the Childhelp Angel award


The Jackson and Barrett families with members of the Classic Car Club of Arizona, which helped stage the first Fiesta de los Autos Elegantes, celebrating Russ and Nellie’s 50th wedding anniversary

A guiding light. A strong character. A treasure. The superlatives used to describe Nellie Jackson say a lot about the woman who was widely considered the “First Lady of Collector Cars” and served as the matriarch of first the Fiesta de los Autos Elegantes car show presented by her husband Russ and Tom Barrett, and then the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company from its inception in 1971 until her death at the age of 90 in 2010.

But to understand her driven spirit, her gregarious personality and her impact not just on the company, but on the collector car industry as a whole, you need to go back to the beginning.

Nellie Jackson was born in the automotive town of Pontiac, Michigan, where she landed her first office job in the accounting department at Fisher Body, a division of General Motors. That initial automotive experience was taken to another level when she met and married Russ Jackson, for whom automobiles, particularly the great prewar classics, were a passion. Her affinity with classic autos began when she and Russ purchased a 1934 V12 Cadillac Opera Coupe from a junkyard they passed while on vacation.

Nellie and Brian

Entrepreneurial by nature, Nellie had an incredibly strong work ethic, likely attributed to her coming of age during the Great Depression. While raising sons Brian and Craig, she embarked on a career in retail, opening a store in Pontiac specializing in women’s and children’s fashions. Later, after the family’s move to Arizona, she and Russ opened the full-service Super Car Wash and also owned and operated the Classic Carriage House, where they bought, sold, rebuilt and refinished classic cars. Nellie, of course, took care of the books and handled the administrative duties.

The couple also joined the Classic Car Club of America after they relocated to the Valley of the Sun, with Nellie immediately stepping up to serve as treasurer. Later, she was elected as the first female Regional Director of the club.

Nellie at the office

When the Jacksons joined forces with Tom Barrett to form Barrett-Jackson, Nellie served as executive director. With her astute business sense, open and caring personality, keen sense of humor, ability to build strong personal relationships and appreciation of collector cars, the job was a perfect fit. Even into her 80s, she was typically the first one in the office at 7 a.m. sharp, putting in a full day’s work ensuring that paperwork was in order, payments were timely, expectations were met and individuals were respected. Her efficiency and processes set high standards for Barrett-Jackson’s administration from the earliest days – standards still in place today – and her passion for automobiles and business acumen became a driving force that propelled the company’s evolution into the world’s leading collector car auction company.

Nellie with Craig

Nellie’s influence reached far beyond the car-collecting world as well. The charitable purpose of Tom Barrett and Russ Jackson’s first car show continued under Nellie’s watchful, nurturing eye. Philanthropy was important to her and she was the force behind what is now a time-honored tradition at each Barrett-Jackson event: the charitable sales of collectible vehicles that have raised well over $100 million over the years for charities large and small. The nonprofit organization Childhelp – co-founded by Nellie’s friends Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson – was particularly close to her heart. The organization even created the Nellie Jackson Award in her honor, which recognizes an individual who “reflects Nellie’s philanthropic and humanitarian spirit; her incredible passion and drive; and her warm, kind-hearted character.”

Nellie was widely respected by all who were involved in the industry. In June 2004, she received the prestigious Meguiar’s Treasure of the Collector Car Hobby award at the Hollywood Kodak Theatre – a richly deserved award that confirmed her impact on the hobby, her devotion to her family and her influence on the lives of others.

“My mother was the foundation who grounded everyone at Barrett-Jackson with her wit, wisdom and caring spirit,” says Craig Jackson.


Nellie with Danica Patrick

Nellie with a 1937 Cadillac Limousine

Nellie and Clive Cussler

Nellie with Carroll Shelby

Russ, Craig, Nellie, and Brian Jackson

Nellie and Russ in the early 1970s

Steve Davis and Nellie


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By: Barrett-Jackson
Title: A LASTING LEGACY: Nellie Jackson – Treasure of the Collector Car Hobby
Sourced From: www.barrett-jackson.com/Media/Home/Reader/nellie-jackson-treasure-of-the-collector-car-hobby/
Published Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2021 16:23:12 +0000