Auctions America by RM, Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel, Burbank, California August 1-3, 2013
Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor
Southern California is the heart of car culture in North America. Its influence reaches far and wide, to every continent where automobiles are built. Its trends are mimicked everywhere.
Why has it been the graveyard of collector car auctions?
Pretty much every successful collector car auction company has come to Los Angeles or Orange County, put on a show … then been rebuffed by the southern California cognoscenti and retreated.
It’s not fair to name them, because the experience isn’t traced to any organization’s effort. It’s the venue.
Every southern California weekend offers a multitude of competing, and in many cases compelling, collector car events. Every highway seems to have a succession of dealers selling classic Porsches, Corvettes, ‘Cudas and even V-16 Cadillacs, not to mention late model Bentleys, BMWs, Porsches and Teslas to the delectation of the car-centric southern California population.
In that environment it takes a lot to pull in deep-pocketed collectors and put them in a buying mood.
Auctions American by RM achieved that in Burbank this August. They assembled a compelling consignment that spanned the diverse interests of southern California collectors, helped in no small part by something like a hundred cars from the reserve (i.e., stored and neglected in the basement) collection of the Petersen Museum.
They put the sale on TV in their new deal with NBC Sports Network.
The site, although lacking parking for day trippers, was otherwise ideal for the 400 cars on offer. The Airport Marriott did a great job hosting it, even accommodating a magicians’ convention at the same time.
The trees in the parking lot evaporated some sap onto the cars below them, and the sun was bright, but this is southern California. Sap happens.
For a first-time sale in southern California this was a triumph, its $17.2 million sale total far better than any auction has done before with a consignment sale.
The cards and hat trick magicians weren’t the only ones at the Burbank Airport Marriott this weekend. Auctions America pulled a few rabbits out of its hat, too.
Now, it remains to be seen how Auctions America does in subsequent years without the Petersen Museum cars. But, they’ve shown it can be done, and that is no mean accomplishment.
This should become a destination event for LA, the most car-centric place in the world.
These are heroic numbers for a southern California consignment sale.