By Rick Carey, Auction Editor
Once the spiritual home of the Muscle Car, clones, “Resto-mods” and Pony Cars, the Scottsdale auctions are now dominated by great sports cars, Classics and custom cars.
The turnaround has been dramatic. Barrett-Jackson returned to its roots with a Salon collection assembled by Gordon McCall that posted curve-setting numbers: seven cars hammered sold for $1 million or more when Barrett-Jackson hadn’t seen a million-dollar transaction since 2009’s Ford Tri-Motor airplane, and a million-dollar car since 2008. Barrett-Jackson’s million-dollar total added one more car, a 1964 Ford Fairlane Custom sold to benefit the Armed Forces Foundation, a car they’d sold at Las Vegas in September for $700,000 to Ron Pratte who immediately donated it back to the same cause to be auctioned in Scottsdale.
Gooding & Company set the bar high on Friday with its sale of an alloy-bodied Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing for $4,200,000, $4,620,000 with commission, but by some measures Barrett-Jackson did them even better on Saturday by getting $2,000,000 hammer, $2,200,000 with commission, for a steel-bodied example (with 4,217 miles on its odometer). That’s three times the price of the next highest Gullwing in Arizona.
You have to go deep in the 2012 results to find the first “Muscle Car”. Discounting Corvettes, Camaros, Challengers, ‘Cudas and Mustangs — which strictly speaking don’t fit the “Muscle Car” definition — the first real “Muscle Cars” among Scottsdale’s top sales were 107th, a Plymouth 440 Road Runner Superbird, and 108th, an Oldsmobile 4-4-2 W30, both at $200,000 hammer, $220,000 with commission, at Barrett-Jackson.
The new dominant category, in numbers at least, was custom cars, amounting to just over 30%, by their own consignors’ description, at Barrett-Jackson and with a smattering at RM, Gooding and Bonhams. And they brought eye-opening money, like $408,800 and $357,500 with commissions for two 1962 Corvette customs at Barrett-Jackson.
Comparisons also point out the health of the top of the market. Gooding got $3,905,000 for a 1959 Ferrari 250GT LWB California Spider (s/n 1505GT) that sold at Bonhams sale in Geneva in 2002 for $631,642. Barrett-Jackson posted a healthy $2,750,000 for the ex-Gary Wales Franay-bodied 1947 Bentley Mark VI (the best car never to win Best of Show at Pebble Beach) that sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach auction in 2006 for $1,728,000. Gooding fetched $1.2 million for Ferrari 275 GTB/4 s/n 10159, a car that sold at RM in Arizona in 2006 for $616,000 (but fetched $1,260,000 at the 1989 Rick Cole auction in Monterey, a good example of the Ferrari market over the last 23 years). RM Auctions notched the sale of Ferrari 500 Superfast s/n 6049SA at $1,100,000. It changed hands at RM Amelia in 2010 for $814,000. [All with commission].
There’s lots more from the 2012 Arizona Auction Week, but it’s also information overload. Ed Lenahan and I looked at over 200 cars in four days and will report on them in due course. Right not it’s off to Kissimmee, Florida for the Mecum Auction where there are about as many cars crossing the auction block as there were in all the Scottsdale auctions combined.
[Source: Rick Carey; photo credit: Barrett-Jackson]