Russo and Steele, Scottsdale, Arizona, January 17-20, 2013
Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor
The important news from Russo and Steele in Scottsdale this year wasn’t the cars, it was the announcement of two new venues for 2013:
- Newport Beach, California at the Newport Dunes, June 20-22; and
- Las Vegas, Nevada at the newly remodeled Tropicana Hotel, September 26-28.
Russo and Steele is an acquired taste. To many the liveliness, noise, excitement and densely packed “auction in the round” format is a rejuvenating elixir. Others find it disorienting and its intensity oppressive. What’s in no doubt is Russo and Steele’s ability to move cars and to generate a level of excitement and showmanship that is unparalleled.
Russo and Steele’s Scottsdale auction contracted in 2013. Although the car count was up by 10%, the number of cars rose by only 2.7% and the total sale was 12.9% lower.
The absence of seven figure cars, even potential $1 million plus sales in the consignment, in a year where all the other Scottsdale auction boasted multiple million dollar plus sales accounts for Russo and Steele’s showing. The auction companies battle in a tough arena competing for headline consignments. Nowhere was that competition more clear than in Russo and Steele’s shutout from the million dollar club, and their near shutout from the next tier between $500,000 and $1 million where there were only two sales at Russo and Steele. Bonhams had 4, Barrett-Jackson 5, RM 10 and Gooding 11.
It’s a brutal, cut-throat battle with no quarter given.
As usual at Russo and Steele muscle, and particularly pony car muscle, were the most prominent sellers, but far and away the most interesting car – and the top seller – was the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster resplendent in Light Blue with White upholstery and whitewall tires. 300SLs today tend to be presented in muted shades of dark grey, dark blue and black, so this car really stood out from the pack. So did its $727,100 price.
A similar standout was the 1940 Packard Darrin Victoria Custom. “Dutch” Darrin would pale with envy at its bodywork, air conditioning, entertainment system and 485hp Viper V-10 under the hood. The $242,000 price would similarly amaze him, but not the bidders who saw its workmanship or considered it had been driven over 27,000 miles since it was completed.
Large to small, custom to stock, competition to street, Russo and Steele Scottsdale offered a collection of cars that assures its place in the Scottsdale auction scene
Drew Alcazar and his team demonstrated their ability to shift gears rapidly and set up their unique “auction in the round” in a standalone situation when they successfully moved from Monterey’s Marriott hotel ballroom to the Fisherman’s Wharf parking lot last August. What they have in store for Newport Beach – a location that last saw a collector car auction two decades ago – and the Tropicana is worth the wait.
Russo and Steele Scottsdale 2013 – Auction Report