Just about any day is a good day to go check out special interest cars, restored antiques, muscle cars, hot rods etc. But in the Northwest January often tends to be a little wet and cold and most of those types of cars are snuggled in their respective garages away from that bad weather and out of site.
There are also a number of us old timers that are, what is referred to as, “Snowbirds.” During the winter months up north the Snowbirds head south to warmer climes, often Arizona. January in Arizona is just about perfect with regard to the weather. Usually in the 60’s or 70’s with warm sunshine and blue skies, Arizona offers us a great place to go thaw out, as it were.
January in Arizona has become a destination for car nuts too. I don’t really know what started it all but my guess is Barrett Jackson created that gravitational pull that draws car guys and gals in from all over the world. And, as it turns out 5 other auction companies hold their own auctions in the Phoenix area in January as well. Barrett Jackson is of course televised, semi-live and I’m certain a lot of you watched the coverage on Velocity and The History Channel this year. I usually watch some of it myself. This year I talked myself into flying to Phoenix to “cover” the auction scene in person so I could get first hand exposure to what appears on television to be the best and largest car show ever. It didn’t disappoint either.
Barrett Jackson has a reputation of only selling the best of the best. This year, long time collector, Ron Pratt was essentially liquidating his “best of the best” collection, many of which were purchased over the years at previous Barrett Jackson Auctions, as we have witnessed if we watched during those years. Ron’s collection included many ‘one only’ cars, trucks etc. that were purchased for millions and as you probably already know sold for millions this January. He also had an extensive collection of “Automobilia,” like dealership signs, old gas pumps etc. all in as new condition. The auction was attended by many collectors that jumped at the chance to get some of that memorabilia and totals exceeding 6.5 million dollars’ worth changed hands, not all of it was Mr. Pratt’s, but you get the idea. I was completely intimidated by the bids I witnessed when those collectables were crossing the block. Signs selling for twice as much as I paid for my first house and they weren’t even big signs. This auction was extended five days to accommodate the Pratt Collection. 98% of the cars and memorabilia crossed the block at NO reserve and this year’s sales set a record at $130+ million in sales for Barrett Jackson alone. See what I mean about intimidation? That’s an amazing amount of money! See their website barrett-jackson.com to learn more.
Locally, Mark Young’s, Northwest House of Hardtops, who has a reputation for only selling “the best of the best” Muscle cars and Corvettes, took some fabulous cars to Scottsdale for the Barrett Jackson Auction. Most ran through at “no reserve.” When Mark was telling me about the cars he was taking he mentioned the “no reserve” part. That raised my eyebrows and I emphasized that that was pretty brave but they all sold through but one, the “Bunkie Knudsen,” 1963 Corvette, that did have a reserve, which wasn’t met. The rest drew respectable prices because of his rep and Barrett Jackson’s rep, everybody seems assured that these cars were in fact nearly perfect and worth the price. Mark also bought some cars there and when we were talking about his cars he mentioned that “… if you stand around long enough you’re bound to find a ‘sleeper,’ you just hope it isn’t one of yours.” Meaning of course that there are deals to be had even at Barrett Jackson. One things for sure, with 1620 plus cars and trucks, it’s probably the biggest car show in the world and the majority of them are beautifully restored or built and in nearly perfect condition. nwhouseofhardtops.com
Russo and Steele were also in Scottsdale. They offered 628 cars for sale, sold 65% of them for a total sell through of nearly $19 million. The highest selling car was a 1968 L88 Corvette Convertible which sold for $687,500.00. The least expensive car sold for $4675.00, it was a 1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500 Convertible.
We looked at every car they were offering and we were impressed with the overall level of quality at the Russo & Steele auction. My observation of their people working on the block was very favorable. They were very good at what they do. I’d recommend a Russo & Steele auction to anyone searching for a collector car. Check out russoandsteele.com for more info.
I’d bet some of you have seen Gooding and Company Auctions on television. Wayne Carrini with Chasing Classic Cars attends their auctions both as a seller and a buyer. They offer many of the higher end cars that sell in the millions quite often. Their total sales were $51,516,600.00 with the 10% premium included. Many of the 162 “lots” sold were Ferraris’, Porsches’, Alfa Romeos’, Jaguars’, Mercedes-Benzs’, Maseratis’ even Volkswagens. An Aston Martin DB4 Series II, that was a one family owned, left hand drive, unrestored that frankly looked like it had seen better days, and sold for $462,000.00, with the premium. There was one Camaro, two Corvettes, one Mustang, one 1933 Ford Traditional Hot Rod Roadster, one Crown Victoria, and a few other American Marques, but if you were looking for a large variety of American cars you didn’t find it at Gooding & Company. What you did find was some absolutely fabulous European make collector cars. goodingco.com for more info.
RM Auctions, a Canadian Classic/Collectable car auction company was in Phoenix this past January as well. RM Auctions is another company that attracts the million and multimillion dollar cars to its auctions. Their auction in Phoenix 2015 was amazing.
They had 165 “Lots” and all but 13 sold. Some were American Cars but the majority had names like Ferrari, Porsche, Bugatti, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Bentley and more. The numbers were staggering to a poor old retired guy like me. RM apparently doesn’t publish a total sales number for their auctions but judging from the “sold” list I’d say it’s safe to say the number was enormous. Seventeen cars sold in the seven figure range with the top seller being a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM by Scaglietti for $9,625,000.00. That name just sounds expensive doesn’t it? I’d try to add up the totals for you but I don’t have a calculator that goes that high, seriously! There were only 22 cars that sold for under $100,000.00 and some of those not that far under. The least expensive sale was for $16,500.00 of which there were two at that price and one was a motorcycle. RM Auctions sold some fantastic investment quality cars in Arizona 2015. Visit rmauctions.com to learn more.
Silver Auction Company based in Spokane Washington was in town in January too. They too had a significant number of consignments for their auction. They don’t publish a consignment count or sell through count that I could find; however, I tallied the “solds” and “still for sales” and came up with a total of 320 lots with 208 sold for a 65% sell through, ESTIMATED. That seems respectable to me. Their list ranged from collector, special interest cars to modern 2012 models.
From the looks of the pictures of some of the consignments they had some nice looking collector/special interest cars available and judging from the bids many of the bidders agree with me. They don’t appear to publish a sales total list either so I can’t tell you what that number is but most of the sale prices shown were right in line with the car values I’m familiar with. Check out their web site for upcoming auctions. silverauctions.com
Bonham & Butterfield Auction is the last auction I’ll talk about for January 2015. They too were in Scottsdale with a publicized list of 184 lots. The first 100 consisted of memorabilia, art, sculptures, pedal cars and the like. The last 84 lots were cars and trucks with marques from all over the world. Like some of the other auction companies Bonham’s sold cars worth in the multimillions. One Ferrari sold for almost nine and half million with the premium. Those Ferraris really sell for a lot of money. It’s just a coincidence that I’m writing this story on February 18th which happens to be Enzo Ferraris birthday. He was born this day in 1898. Bonham’s website is bonhams.com
If you like cars and nice weather you ought to plan on taking the trip to Phoenix one of these Januarys. In fact, that would be a good bucket lister, don’t you think?