The Most Costly Cars On The
Collector specials fetch
Gorgeous metal needs deep pockets
Scottsdale, ARIz.-Three auctions in three
places and three ways to spend my money: Cash,
cheque or credit.
Trouble comes in threes.
RM, Russo and Steele, and the renowned
Barrett-Jackson: Each auction sells cars, but
each company is distinctive with its brands
"We don't have customers, we have guests,"
says Terrence Lobzun of RM Auctions. Its VIP
reception was packed with "professional
hobbyists," each with lines of credit and
garages larger than I can even imagine.
RM's interest is in fostering long-term
relationships with collectors, from finding
and restoring their first dream car to
handling their estate collections. Owner Rob
Myers greets his guests as old friends as they
stream through the door. This Chatham,
Ont.-based company has been in the
car-collecting industry for 26 years.
The star of the RM stable here this year
was a 1934 Duesenberg Model T Convertible
Coupe that brought in a breathtaking
$2,750,000 (all prices in U.S. funds)
swirled that Tonight show host Jay Leno was
the buyer, which only added to the night's
RM auctions certainly had cars and
customers with colourful and rich histories.
The majority of their up-for-bid fare was
manufactured before my birth, and I could only
imagine the Great Gatsby stories these
restored beauties might tell. Others have
RM's ability to find such interesting cars
makes its auction a must-experience event. At
the Russo and Steele Collector Automobiles
auction, the company had an eclectic
assortment of vehicles. In turn the cars were
bought by an eclectic group of serious buyers.
This was the bargain shop for diehard,
muscle car fans and a deal maker's paradise.
Owner Drew Alcazar says he wants a "boutique"
style for the event.
"Keeping our sales small and intimate
allows the enthusiasts to be at the centre of
the event," he says.
"It is difficult to have any car, no matter
how nice, rise above a sea of more than 800
cars. From a buyer's perspective, getting
asked to move as someone takes a picture to
hang on their wall, or be run over by a baby
stroller when one is inspecting a potential
purchase, compromises the integrity of the
Russo and Steele has only five years'
experience at auctioning cars but is an
intimate organization that caters to true car
consumers. In fact, only buyers and their
guests are allowed in the main auction area.
The crème de la crème of Russo and Steele
this year was a 1963 Shelby Factory 289 Cobra
race car driven onto the block by one of its
original drivers, Allen Grant. Wearing his
winning team driving jacket from the 1963
season, he took the microphone to tell the
capacity crowd of the car's illustrious
history. After the roar, the hammer finally
fell at $2,133,000.
But the five days of cavalcade fun belong
to the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction.
The carnival atmosphere, the crowds and, of
course, the more than 1,000 cars up for
auction keep this 120,000-square-foot auction
Hundreds of bidders are corralled into the
front square ready to make the big buy. And
big buys were the name of the game. A
beautiful specimen of a Ferrari 308 GTS sold
for $59,400, or more than $15,000 above the
That seemed to be the norm for many cars
that were sold with prices leaving us
scratching our heads. How can a vintage car
bought new for mere thousands be now worth
close to a million? Could I have made more
money from a Hemi 'Cuda than from Nortel
The spectators cheered as the hammer hit at
record prices for American muscle cars, but
the biggest round of applause was for a 1954
Oldsmobile. Not the kind your grandmother
owned, though: Styled by Harley Earl, this
F-88 GM Concept Car with its 250-hp V8 and
four-speed Hydra-matic shifter sold for
most of its brethren were destroyed after
their debuts at GM's Motorama shows, the
gold-toned Olds survived this fate to become
one of the most historically significant
vehicles of its era," said Craig Jackson,
president and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. In 50
years, a car manufactured from futuristic
ideas became a Barrett-Jackson record-setting
Row upon row of vendors, fashion shows and
a charity VIP night turned the sale into an
international event for all to see. Online
ticket sales were up more than 800 per cent,
with an expected 200,000 people paying up to
$50 a day ($130 for a five-day pass) for the
car show alone.
Being a bidder cost an additional $350 in
registration - and don't forget the bank's
letter of credit.
Barrett-Jackson is entertainment, but it
also sets the price bar all the higher. Values
of collector cars have now reached new excess.
One thing's for sure: the car-collecting
industry is strong and growing.
I'm leaving here without a new pink slip.
My bank account lacks enough digits to allow
me to be a serious car collector, but at least
my dreams of owning such beautiful pieces of
machinery will never quite be going, going,