Calendar getting crowded as Arizona prepares for auction action
By Larry Edsall
If you're coming to Arizona for the classic car auctions in January, plan on sleeping when you get back home, because the calendar is even busier than usual, what with new and renewed events claiming spaces.
Bonhams has announced its inaugural Scottsdale Sale of Exceptional Motorcars will be held Thursday, January 19 at the Westin Kierland resort & spa.
Already consigned are the 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I transformable convertible sedan given by Paramount Studios director Josef von Sternberg to Marlene Dietrich after her role as a femme fatale in The Blue Angel (Der Blaue Engel). The car and Dietrich also were featured in the movie Morocco.
Other consignments include a 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8 torpedo tourer with Carrozzeria Sala coachwork and a Dietrich-bodied -- that coachbuilder Ray, not actress Marlene -- 1932 Packard Model 904 custom convertible Victoria.
The Quest: movie debut and a new venue
When changes at the Wellness Center in Phoenix threatened the annual Wheels of Wellness vintage racing car show that kicks off Arizona Auction week, committee members Lyn St. James, Mike Silverman and Scott Dames got busy and created what they're calling a "bridge" event between the old Wheels of Wellness and the new one they hope to launch in 2013.
In the meantime, on Sunday, January 15, the Arizona Biltmore, site later that week of the annual RM Auction, will be host to a car show and the "West Coast" debut of The Quest, the documentary movie about Chip Miller's quest, completed by his son, Lance, after Chip's death, to find and restore the first Corvette to win at Le Mans, in 1960, and to reunite it, driver John Fitch and the Le Mans circuit 5o years later.
A long list of Corvette racing greats are expected to attend, as are many members of the Solid Axle Corvette Club, who will be arriving in the area for their national convention at Fountain Hills, just east of Scottsdale.
Auction preview open to the public
For the first time, the Phoenix Automotive Press Association's annual Arizona Auction Preview will be open to the public. The event, held at the Phoenix Art Museum, features presentations by the various auction houses and a panel discussion about the classic car hobby/industry by experts. This year, the panelists are Keith Martin of Sports Car Market magazine; Ken Gross, first curator of the Petersen Museum and chairman of the selection committee for Pebble Beach; and classic car insurer McKeel Hagerty.
Tickets are $20 each and include the presentation and dessert afterward. Part of the proceeds will go to the auto restoration education program at McPherson College. Visit www.phoenixautopress.org, where additional details will be posted early in the New Year.
5 & Diner returns to its roots
Although not a part of auction week, the New Year for car collectors and classic vehicle enthusiasts begins in Phoenix on February 7 when the 5 & Diner restaurant group returns to its roots by staging the inaugural Rockabilly Bash Car & Bike Show at Firebird Raceway.
The program includes quarter-mile drag races, car shows featuring hot and rat rods, street rods and gassers, kustoms, leadsleds and motorcycles, as well as what's being billed as Arizona's largest sock hop with six live bands.
For details, see www.5anddiner.com/bash
Mecum turns $12 million at KC
Mecum closed out its 2011 classic car auction schedule with a 70-percent sell-through rate on the 800 vehicles that crossed the block in the Kansas City Convention Center/Bartle Hall in early December. Total sales totaled $11.6 million, not counting the 6-percent buyer's premium.
The high-dollar sale was $165,00 for a 1969 Shelby GT500 convertible, a four-speed manual in Gulfstream Aqua with white interior.
A 1970 Plymouth Superbird went for $122,500, a 1967 Ford Mustang resto mod got $121,000 and a 1953 Buick Skylark convertible brought $120,000.
Coys does $7 million
In 1965, George Harrison of the Beatles bought a new Aston Martin DB5. Recently, that car brought $550,000 at the Coys True Greats auction in the UK.
Total sales at the event, which features several vehicles with rock 'n' roll connections, topped $7 million
Click here for event calendar.
Click here for more articles by Larry Edsall.