Scottsdale Auction Results 2011 – Better Across the Board
By Rick Carey, Auction Editor
“Better” is very good.
While the Big Dog, Barrett-Jackson, hasn’t released its final results yet it’s fair to conclude that the 2011 Scottsdale Auctions were, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the best in several years.
Both Gooding ($34,980,900) and RM Auctions ($30,995,075) posted better totals than in 2010 – RM by a big margin (57%).
More significantly, their sell-through rates were better, Gooding up 1.3 points to 93.1% and RM up 7.8 points to 95.6%. That included plenty of No Reserve cars at both auctions, but even beyond that they sold nearly everything that rolled. Russo and Steele’s sell-through was something close to 70%, a miraculous recovery from 2010’s tent-sailing adventure attributable to a lot of hard work and some very loyal consignors and bidders who appreciate the Russo style.
“Scottsdale” – the Barrett-Jackson-centric name for the auctions which congregate around Phoenix, Arizona in January – grows and evolves continuously. Changes reflect the market, and that doesn’t mean values as much as it means the evolution of bidders, and the growth of alternative venues. Right now alternative venues are plenty, and Scottsdale has focused on accessible, middle-market collector cars.
That evolution is nowhere more clear than at Barrett-Jackson, where median transactions run in sub-$50,000 values. It is defined by the vast SPEED TV audience, fueled by 40 hours of live TV coverage that attracts some of SPEED’s highest ratings of the year and fuels hours of re-runs. Seven-figure transactions, feted in Barrett-Jackson’s 40th Anniversary program, are gone: Barrett-Jackson is a five- and low six-figure marketplace, $60 million or so of it in six days of fast-paced showmanship in an unabashedly “event” setting.
RM Auctions and Gooding have in turn recognized the vacuum which Barrett-Jackson’s transition has created, capitalizing on it with quality consignments and distinctive catalog presentations.
Barrett-Jackson’s insistence on “No Reserve” sales (and they really, really do insist on No Reserve without buybacks) left room for Russo and Steele and Silver Auctions. In 2011 Scott Brandt’s Motoexotica made a run for a piece of it, too, putting on a two-day sale at the Manheim wholesale auction in Tolleson (SW of Phoenix) with $1.5 million in sales in an unusually friendly and accessible venue. They’ll be back in 2012.
The simple fact is that everyone had a good year in “Scottsdale” in 2011. Consignors brought (generally) good cars and for the most part honestly represented them. Bidders brought money, recognizing the good, honestly represented cars with sound prices that renewed the middle market that recently has been squishy.
There also were some jaw-dropping transactions.
• RM’s sale of 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing s/n 1980405500601 for $1,375,000, a car they’d sold at Monterey in 2008 in essentially the same condition for $770,000;
• Gooding’s sale of the original, unrestored 1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic by Ghia s/n 106000035 for $1,705,000;
• B-J’s sale of a ’56 DeSoto Fireflite Convertible s/n 50377412 for $368,500; and
• Russo and Steele’s sale of a ’70 ‘Cuda Hemi Convertible s/n BS27R0B363502 for $1,705,000 (the Hemi ‘Cuda convertible is, apparently, back).
Even those details paled beside the generally positive vibe of the week. It was the most upbeat Scottsdale since 2006. Each of the auctions had a niche which it served professionally and efficiently.
Big Cars may be in the pipeline for Paris, Villa d’Este, Monaco and Monterey but the broad base of the collector market was solidly established in Scottsdale in January 2011.
Detailed results will follow, but now I’m off to Kissimmee, Florida for Mecum Auctions’ 1500 car sale the weekend after Scottsdale. It adds up to nearly 5,000 collector cars offered at auction in just three consecutive weeks in January.
It’s hard to conceive of a more vibrant, effective market.
[Source: Rick Carey; photo credit: Gooding]