Weather, not money, was the big story of Arizona Auction Week. Most of the auctions are held under large tents, and tents and a storm of nearly tornadic proportions don't play nicely together.
While some venues found ways to weather the weather, Russo and Steele lost both of the 820-foot long tents that covered the more than 650 vehicles it had on its auction docket. Some 200 of those vehicles sustained damage and the auction was halted for two days so the destruction could be accessed and the site cleaned up so local public safety officials would allow the event to resume.
One collector car insurance specialist said the damage represented the worst catastrophe for classic cars ever except for Hurricane Katrina.
The damage at Russo and Steele was such a big deal that it overshadowed other significant story lines that developed during the week. Those included the emergence of Gooding & Co. as the place to go if you want to see major money change hands, and the fact that - for the second year in a row - the highest-priced vehicle sold at Barrett-Jackson wasn't a collector car but an airplane.
Barrett-Jackson's 2010 Scottsdale event was the first in six years without any vehicle selling for a million dollars or more. The top-seller among the more than 1200 vehicles sold at Barrett-Jackson was a 1929 Hamilton Metalplane that brought $671,000. The top-selling car was a 1964 Shelby Cobra that went for $478,500.
That latter figure is quite a contrast to the $3.24 million the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 concept car sold for in 2005, the $4.32 million brought by the 1950 GM Futurliner in 2006, the $5.5 million it took to buy the Shelby Supers1966 Shelby Cobra 427 "Supersnake," or even the $1.76 million that won the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rondine concept in 2008. In 2009, the only vehicle bringing a million or more at Barrett-Jackson was a restored 1929 Ford Tri-Motor airplane at $1.21 million.
While RM posted only one million-plus sale - a 1963 Aston Martin DB4 GT for $1.001 million - it had two other vehicles bid to more than a million, though neither of the high bids -- $1.45 million for the 1964 "Flip-Top" Shelby 427 Cobra and $1.175 million for a 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt concept car - was enough to reach the consignor's reserve.
When Russo and Steele resumed, it, too, had a million-plus bid -- $1.4 for the 1948 Tucker convertible - but again, that figure didn't reach the car's reserve price.
Here are the top sales figures from the Arizona auctions:
$3.47 million - 1956 Jaguar D-type sports racer (Gooding)
$2.145 million - 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Series I cabriolet (Gooding)
$1.815 million - 1934 Duesenberg Model J disappearing-top convertible coupe (Gooding)
$1.54 million - 1936 Hispano-Suiza Type 68 J12 cabriolet (Gooding)
$1.1 million - 1959 Costin Lister Jaguar sports racer (Gooding)
$1.028 million - 1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra (Gooding)
$1.001 million - 1963 Aston Martin DB4 GT (RM)
$825,000 - 1930 Duesenberg Model J Berline convertible (Gooding)
$797,500 - 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Series II (Russo and Steele)
$792,000 - 1935 Duesenberg Model JN Rollston-bodied convertible (Kruse)
$737,000 - 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB (Gooding)
$726,000 - 1927 Bentley 61/2-liter sport coupe (Gooding)
Overall, Barrett-Jackson handled more than $68 million in business from the sale of more than 1200 vehicles, Gooding & Co. did nearly $34 million with 114 of 125 lots selling, and RM posted figures of nearly $20 million and an 89-percent sell through. Russo and Steele had yet to post all of its final numbers when we posted this article.
Kruse fights back
After being granted a license for its 39th "Scottsdale" collector car auction, Kruse International held a two-day event at Glendale, not Scottsdale. The highlight was the sale of a pair of Duesenbergs - a Rollston-bodied 1935 Model JN convertible sedan for $792,000 and a 1930 Model J Willoughby-bodied long-wheelbase limousine for $335,500.
Meanwhile, back in Indiana, Kruse International filed suits seeking to collect about a third of the $6.7 million the company says it is owed by its customers. Kruse said it will file suits to go after the rest of its accounts receivable.
Further, Kruse announced that it has hired John Silowsky as the company's new general manager. Silowsky previously oversaw plant operations for automotive suppliers.
Noteworthy news items
Organizers of the inaugural La Dolce Vita Automobili, a celebration of Italian cars held last summer at the Black Horse Golf Course near Monterey, say they won't be doing a second annual event this coming summer.
The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum at Pomona, California, opens an exhibit February 12 honoring Mickey Thompson and the 50th anniversary of his achievement of becoming the fastest American driver of a wheel-driven vehicle - 406.6 miles per hour in Challenger I on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The Simeone Museum near Philadelphia "exercises" a couple of its vehicles each month; if you're in that area on February 27 (and it's not raining or snowing), the museum's 1963 Corvette Grand Sport and 1964 Cobra Daytona Coupe will be in action on the facility's three-acre parking lot.
Through May 2, the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan, showcases a "What Can You Hemi?" exhibition featuring five unique and Hemi-powered machines, including a snow blower, merry-go-round, Zamboni ice smoother, barbecue grill, and an air raid siren…
Jaguar celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2010 and plans special displays at Amelia Island and Pebble Beach as well as the Goodwood Festival in England and the Mille Miglia classic rally in Italy.
Mark your calendars
19-20 - Kruse at Oklahoma City
26-28 - Keith McCormick auction, Palm Springs, California
12 - Gooding auction at Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island, Florida
12-14 - 15th Amelia Island concours d'elegance, Amelia Island, Florida
12-14 - Goodguys Spring Nationals, Scottsdale, Arizona
13 - RM auction at Amelia Island concourse, Amelia Island, Florida
26-27 - Kruse/Leake at San Antonio, Texas
26-28 - RM auction at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
26-28 - Legends of Riverside honors Carroll Shelby, Riverside, California
27-28 - Goodguys All American Get-Together, Pleasanton, California
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