All posts by Larry Edsall

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State Univeristy.

Arizona bids for title of best wintertime car show

Photo by Larry Edsall
Photo by Larry Edsall

For many people, the annual classic car auction week in Arizona presents a wonderful opportunity (1) to escape way-too-cold weather and (2) to buy or sell classic cars. But for many more people, the auctions are simply one of the biggest and best classic and exotic car shows on the planet.

For example, where else can you see not one, not two, but nine Mercedes-Benz 300SLs, including five with gull-wing doors?

Where else can you see 39 Ferraris, including a 1951 212 Export Berlinetta and a 1952 212 Inter Coupe, as well as four 250 GTs, one of them a California Spider?

Or three Model J Duesenbergs?

Or cars with bodywork by not only by Touring, Franay, Zagato, Scaglietti, Vignale, Bertone, Ghia, Murphy, LeBaron, Brewster, Mulliner, Gangloff, Chapron, Figoni et Falachi, Scaglietti and all the Farinas — Stablimenti, Pinin and Pininfarina — but by the Rippon Brothers and the Ringbrothers?

Or cars formerly or currently owned by the likes of Nick Cage, Gregory Peck, Ray Milland, Roy Rogers, John Dodge (that’s Dodge as in the car company), James Gandolfini, Winthrop Rockefeller, Richard Carpenter, Simon Cowell,  Matthew Fox, Rudolph Valentino’s manager, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Carroll Shelby or even Dr. Jonas Salk?

You also can see (or even buy) the Testarossa used in Michael Jackson’s Bad Pepsi promo and the herringbone tweed jacket Steve McQueen wore in Bullitt.

There are a Bugatti that raced at Monaco in 1930, the Osca that won the Index of Performance at Sebring in 1960, one of Jim Hall’s 1966 Chaparral 1 racers, Shelby’s race-winning 1963 King Cobra racer, Donna Mae Mims’ pink H-Production national championship 1959 Austin-Healey Sprite, the “longtail” McLaren F1 GTR Global GT racer, a Sox & Martin A/FX Hemi ‘Cuda, the 1998 Ferrari F300 that Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine used for testing, and not only the Snake & Mongoose funny cars but the trucks that carried them to the drag strips.

And those numbers and those lists come only from perusing the thick, glossy, printed and heavy catalogs for the RM, Gooding & Co., Bonhams and Barrett-Jackson Salon Collection/Series 5000 portion of the Arizona auction week.

We have yet to click through Russo and Steele’s 409-page online catalog or the ginormous printed catalog for the rest of Barrett-Jackson’s 1400-car docket. And don’t forget that Mitch Silver will have an additional 350 or so vehicles out at Fort McDowell for your viewing (and even bidding) pleasure.

Photo courtesy Arizona concours
Photo courtesy Arizona concours

Nor do those numbers include the cars to be arrayed around the lawns at the Arizona Biltmore for the inaugural Arizona Concours d’Elegance that kicks off auction week on Sunday.

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Finally! ‘Reality’ TV promises to get real about classic cars as Corky hits the backroads

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Like me, are you appalled, even downright angry about the way television portrays the classic car hobby?

Click on your big screen and start surfing the channels and before long what you’ll see is someone buying a classic car as cheaply as possible, hauling it back to their shop, slapping on some paint, doing minimal mechanical and interior work, and then flipping the thing with one goal in mind — maximized profit.

Sure, everyone likes to make a profit when they sell something. But the classic car hobbyists I know are in this because they love the cars — and the search for the cars — and they love restoring and even maintaining them, getting them running again and looking great. For the most part, they sell them with a degree of reluctance, often only so they can begin the pursuit of their next project.

The find-fix-flip format we see on so many of the classic car “reality” television programs is the polar opposite of what I see when I look at the classic car hobby.  I get more than irritated when I see such shows, and I rarely watch them for more than a few minutes.

But that will change very soon, because I plan to tune in for the debut of Backroad Gold, Corky Coker’s new show.

From what Corky has shared with me, his show sounds like the classic car version of American Pickers, which is less about buying and selling than it is about educating us to America’s antiques and introducing us to the characters who have been caretakers to artifacts of our historic heritage. 

Backroad Gold debuts February 5 — and then runs for at least eight more episodes — on the Travel channel. The program follows Coker and company as they search for cars, motorcycles, old gasoline pumps, road signs and such.

Why am I optimistic about Backroad Gold? Because of Corky, who is about as genuine a classic car hobbyist as you’re ever likely to find. Oh, sure, he’s also part of what I call the classic car industry, the auction houses, insurers, transportation providers and parts producers who supply the things that classic car hobbyists need and buy to pursue the hobby. In Corky’s case, those things are Coker Tires, tires that offer the look of vintage rubber but that also provide the safety and engineering advances of modern tire technology.

But that’s just Corky’s day job. His passion is finding, restoring and driving old cars and motorcycles, and being an evangelist for the hobby.

When The Great Race, the annual cross-country rally for classic cars, appeared to be faltering, Corky bought it, pumped it up and put it back on solid footing. He resurrected the famed Honest Charley Speed Shop & Garage. He helped launch the Collectors Foundation that supports car restoration education in high schools and colleges.

“I grew up in the back seat of a 1910 REO,” he says of riding along with his mom and dad on the old Glidden Tours.

On the new television show, Corky hits the backroads in pursuit of more than just neglected classics. Corky is a car guy, but also a people person, and part of his mission is to introduce the world to what he calls the real Americans.

“The real people of America are on the backroads,” he said, sharing just one example we’ll see on the show — twin 78-year-old brothers who have protected a V12-powered 1934 Pierce-Arrow sedan in their dairy barn for more than 40 years.

As for the cars he finds and is able to buy, “We’re able to restore them and put them back into play,” he said.

The “we” he mentions includes Corky; his father, Harold; his daughter, Casey; her husband, Greg; and Hal, the “head wrench” back in the shop.

Casey said that throughout her life, her dad has been “bringing home all this weird crap.

“I see labor and man hours and cost,” she added. “He sees a jewel.”

Corky’s personality isn’t the only thing that promises to separate his show from the others. For one thing, he’s playing with his own money, not with funding provided by a television production company. For another, instead of flipping the cars once they’re restored, Corky’s tendency, and perhaps his lament, is to keep them because parting with them would be painful.

As I said, this is a real car guy.

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Rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ at the Rockabilly Bash

Photos by Larry Edsall
Photos by Larry Edsall

 

The 1963 Ford Thunderbird, white with a brilliant red and metal flaked roof, caught my eye. After all, how can you not like a Bullet ‘Bird?

And then I noticed the car parked next to it. It was a 1964 Ford Ranchero, and it was painted in the same colors. Actually, it looked like the paint may have come from the same cans.

The tag in the windshield said the owner of the Tbird was Shane Stratton. The paperwork in the Ranchero’s window said it was owned by Tyler Stratton.

Turns out that Shane and Tyler are father and 18-year-old son.

Shane said he’s been working on his Thunderbird for eight years, but he says he is only 60 percent of the way finished with its restoration and customization. Still to come: air suspension, the interior restoration, repainting of the fenders, hood, decklid and doors, and one more round of wet sanding and a final coat on that gorgeous top.

Tyler’s car is much closer to completion, basically awaiting a new grille and all sorts of rubber components.

The Strattons’ cars were among some 500 parked recently just south of Phoenix at the Wild Horse Motorsports Park (formerly Firebird Raceway) for the third annual Rockabilly Bash.

The bash is sponsored by the 5 & Diner restaurant group. Two hundred cars showed up for the inaugural event. Last year there were 360. This year 500 were on display and organizers already are planning on a thousand for the first Saturday of 2015.

The showfield was full of hot rods, rat rods, American classics and even the occasional foreign car, all of them in various states of deterioration and restoration. But that’s the beauty of the Rockabilly Bash — well, that and the live music and the 1940s-style pin-up beauty queen competition.

The Bash isn’t for exotics or concours-quality cars. Instead, it’s a display of automotive artwork in progress, mechanical mayhem, and good ol’ grassroots classic car fun. It’s sort of a car-show version of run what you brung, with everything from cars that look as if they just rolled off a 1950s showroom to those that look like, well, like combinations of parts and panels you might not see anywhere else, or never expected to see in the first place.

Consider a 1946 Ford pickup truck with the nose from a 1951 Studebaker; a 1955 Ford Thunderbird with green, matte-finished paint and white steel wheels; or a 1934 Pontiac with its sedan top and hood painted gray over a yellow shoulder stripe and maroon lower body and fenders, all riding on green wheels.

Patina counts with this crowd, but so does everything from matte primer to expertly applied custom-colored metal-flake. And flames. And pinstriping.

Many of the cars and trucks appear to be the result more of someone’s whimsy, far removed from some automaker’s design studio or assembly plant.

These cars are more than the sum of their parts. In simple terms, they are what they are, and we appreciate them — and their owners — for that very fact.

 

Silver shines in its niche in Copper State’s classic car auction marketplace

Four Peaks frame Silver Auctions site in Arizona | Photo by Larry Edsall
Four Peaks frame Silver Auctions site in Arizona | Photo by Larry Edsall

Another in a series of previews of classic car auctions in January

Mitch Silver likes his niche in the classic car marketplace.

Photo by Larry Edsall
Photo by Larry Edsall

“It’s great to see million-dollar cars, but I’m not a participant there and most everybody I know isn’t either,” said the college professor turned auctioneer (see photo) who founded his classic car sales company some 36 years ago.

“I go [to the other auctions and] look at those cars, but then I come back where I can play,” Silver added.

Where Silver and his customers play is with cars priced not at seven-figure elevations, or even rarely at six, but in the five-figure range. Last year at his 16th annual January auction in the Phoenix area, the average sale price at Silver’s event was right around $14,000.

“I look at the sales that grab the headlines, but I don’t see myself ever collecting those cars, and that’s the case for a lot of people,” Silver said at the time. “They’re fun to see and to talk about, but what I’m looking for is to buy a 1950s convertible or muscle car.”

Silver’s annual January sale at the Fort McDowell resort and casino in Fountain Hills will offer 350 — or a few more — vehicles over two days of bidding. While some of the high-end auction houses tout vintage Ferraris, rare Duesenbergs and gull-wing Mercedes 300SLs, Silver’s headliners include:

  • a 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser,
  • a 1960 Plymouth Fury convertible,
  • a 1963 Chevrolet Impala two-door hardtop,
  • a wonderfully preserved, “rock stock” 1956 Chevrolet BelAir convertible,
  • a 1940 Mercury coupe,
  • “a lot of nice trucks,”
  • “early Ford V8 convertibles.”

In other words, classics that are affordable, that fun to drive and to take to local car shows right now, and that could be candidates for restoration somewhere down the road.

Photos courtesy Silver Auctions

Silver always liked old cars and had bought and sold a few, including some he chased others down in barns and backyards. Then he saw an advertisement for a classic car auction in Seattle.

“I went and it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen,” he said.

Silver went back to Spokane, staged his own auction, and then others and 10 years later he left Eastern Washington University and turned Silver Auctions into a full-time business.

But he’s never really left teaching behind. As each car crosses the block at his auction, he often shares the history of the marque, the model, or even the specific vehicle.

Where else, he’s said, can you sit down and have a classic car come past you every three minutes and have someone who knows about those cars tell you the vehicles’s history and technical information?

“It’s a very efficient way of shopping,” he said, adding that all the while, “you’re learning.”

To make that shopping more efficient, Silver trimmed what used to be a four-day auction to two days.

“We’re running about the same number of cars,” he said. “We just made longer days.”

This year, he’s also streamlining the opening hour of his sale, which is devoted to automobilia.

“We tried to pack a little too much into that hour in the past,” he said of trying to push through as many as 120 items in an hour. “We’re backing that down to 60 to 70 items this year. We have a lot of pressed-tin toys, some real nice stuff, and all at no reserve.”

But Silver won’t be the only one selling automobilia on the Fort McDowell property this month. The new Automobilia Scottsdale, a room full of vendors, will be set up in the resort ballroom not far from Silver’s auction tent.

“I think that is outstanding,” Silver said. “I’ve very happy to have more activities there and new people coming. I’ll be over there taking a look myself.”

Silver also said that he’s eager for those attending the new sale to discover “that Fort McDowell is close [to Scottsdale] and easy to get to.”

And, he might have added, a place to buy very reasonably priced classic cars.

Artist explores the ‘birth’ and destruction of classic sports cars

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Don’t worry, no classic cars were harmed in the making of Swiss artist Fabian Oefner’s images.

Oefner is known for his ability to fuse art and science. His latest work involves classic cars — their creation and their destruction.

“What you see in these images is a moment that never existed in real life,” he said in a news release from the MF&B M.A.D. Gallery in Geneva, Switzerland, where Oefner’s work is on display through May. (M.A.D. is short for Mechanical Art Devices.)

“What looks like a car falling apart is in fact a moment in time that has been created artificially by blending hundreds of individual images together. There is a unique pleasure about artificially baulking a moment… Freezing a moment in time is stupefying.”

The images in Oefner’s Disintegrating series show the demise of three classic sports cars — a 1967 Ferrari 330 P4, a 1961 Jaguar E-type coupe and a 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SRL Uhlenhaut coupe.

On the other hand, his Hatch series explores “the birth of a car” as if the car was actually hatching.

Oefner said Hatch was inspired by an image he saw of a hatching chick. He wanted to explore how it might look if a manufactured object was born like a living organism. His choice of object was a Ferrari 250 GTO.

For Disintegrating, the news release reports, Oefner “first sketched on paper where the individual pieces would go, before taking apart the model cars piece by piece, from the body shell right down to the minuscule screws. Each car contained over a thousand components.

“Then, according to his initial sketch, he placed each piece individually with the aid of fine needles and pieces of string. After meticulously working out the angle of each shot and establishing the right lighting, he photographed the component, and took thousands of photographs to create each Disintegrating image.

“All these individual photos were then blended together in post-production to create one single image. With the wheels acting as a reference point, each part was masked in Photoshop, cut and then pasted into the final image.

“These are possibly the ‘slowest high-speed’ images ever captured,” he said. “It took almost two months to create an image that looks as if it was captured in a fraction of a second. The whole disassembly in itself took more than a day for each car due to the complexity of the models. But that’s a bit of a boy thing. There’s an enjoyment in the analysis, discovering something by taking it apart, like peeling an onion.”Fabian-Oefner-working_Lres

In Hatch, Oefner “presents his interpretation of how cars might be ‘born’. The first two images show a Ferrari 250 GTO – again a detailed scale model – breaking out of its shell. The third image shows one of the empty shells left behind among several others yet to hatch”

Oefner started with a latex mold of the model car. The mold was filled with a thin layer of gypsum to create a shell.

“Several dozens of these shells were made in order to complete the next step: smashing the shell onto the car to create the illusion of the vehicle breaking out. This step had to be repeated a great many times until the desired results were achieved.

“To capture the very moment where the shell hit the model, Fabian connected a microphone to his camera, a Hasselblad H4D, and flashes, so that every time the shell hit the surface of the car, the impulse was picked up by the microphone which then triggered the flashes and the camera shutter.

Oefner, who turns 30 in 2014, was 14 when he saw Harold Edgerton’s photo of  a bullet piercing an apple.  The photo inspired Oefner to buy his first camera.

“I have always experimented with all different kinds of art forms,” he said. “Photography turned out to be the form of art that I was most interested in.”

His previous work includes photographing “nebulae’”formed in a fiberglass lamp and bursting balloons filled with corn starch. He has photographed crystals of color rising in reaction to a speaker’s sound waves, captured the patterns created by magnetic ferrofluids pushing paint into canals, and taken color-crazy photos of paint modeled by centripetal forces.

“I am trying to show these phenomena in an unseen and poetic way,” he pauses, “and therefore make the viewer pause for a moment and appreciate the magic that constantly surrounds us.”

Oefner shared his ideas and artwork during a TED Talk, which includes several of his non-automotive of his images.

Nuvolari racer dominates Motostalgia auction

Remember the inaugural Motostalgia Auction d’Elegance staged in Austin, Texas, back in November to coincide with the U.S. Grand Prix? We’ve been waiting for a final news release from the organizers, but they’ve chosen to send us only a list of results and a few photos.

It appears from the list that 180 vehicles were offered up for bidding, and that all but 26 sold. Among the bids declined by car owners who had higher reserves were $1.5 million for a 1933 Duesenberg Model J Franay “Queen of Diamonds” and $900,000 for the 1998 Ferrari F300 F1 racer driven by Michael Schumacher.

Among vehicles that sold, the 1950 Cisitalia-Abarth 204A raced by Tazio Nuvolari brought $4.62 million.

No other vehicles exceeded $300,000. A 1931 Pur Sang Bugatti Type 51 recreation sold for $297,000 and a 1957 Porsche Speedster sold for $275,000.

 

Russo and Steele eager for its hometown auction

 

Photo by Larry Edsall
Photo by Larry Edsall

Another in a series of previews of classic car auctions in January

After back-to-back auctions at Monterey and Las Vegas, Drew Alcazar says his Phoenix-based team at Russo and Steele may have been tired, but “the great thing was to see how excited everyone was to come home and work on Scottsdale.”

And it’s not just his own team he finds excited about his company’s January 15-19 auction of European sports, American muscle, hot rods and customs.

“We may eclipse 750 cars,” Alcazar said, adding that consignments still are flowing in, to the point that he and his crew are busy trying to figure out how to make room for them all.

But even before the influx of cars, “We brought in some new people, people who have the capability of taking us to the next level,” Alcazar said. “It’s another testament of our success, bringing on a lot more resources, doing better customer service. That’s exciting for me.”

Russo and Steele needed additional staff because Alcazar doubled up on the auction schedule last year, adding events in Orange County, Calif., and Las Vegas to the usual lineup of Scottsdale and Monterey.

“It was quite an adventure for the gang, and a big learning curve, but they did a great job, particularly with Las Vegas just 30 days after Monterey,” Alcazar said.

The company’s 2014 auction schedule again is for four events, including Newport Beach in June, Monterey in August and Las Vegas in September. First, however, comes Russo and Steele’s 14th Scottsdale auction.

“We have the best collection of cars that we have had since the 2010 anniversary year,” Alcazar said.  “Not that I want to dredge that horse out of the grave again. That year was our coming out year. It was our 10th anniversary. The cars were impressive. Russo and Steele had arrived. To have it in a wad and a mud puddle was devastating [a tornado-like storm felled tents and battered many cars], but at least everyone got out alive.

“Now we’re not just back, but we’re going forward,” he added. “It started last year with the two new events. Now the inventory we have at Scottsdale is probably the best evidence.”

The increase in staff strength is additional evidence, he said, and will free Alcazar to do strategic planning and to focus on clients.

“I’m just another car guy,” Alcazar said. “To me it is a hobby. But there’s a time to look at the business model, to bring in more business acumen.”

Alcazar knows where Russo and Steele fits within the classic car auction industry.  Yes, he likes having a car or two sell for seven figures, but he knows people come to his auctions for what he calls the “$50,000 to $500,000 sweet spot” of the market, and especially for European sports cars in that price range.

Yet it is two cars that could exceed that range that may provide the highlights of Russo and Steele’s Scottsdale auction.

Lamborghini 350GT | Courtesy Russo and Steele
Lamborghini 350GT | Courtesy Russo and Steele

“Our most exciting European sports car is the [1966 Lamborghini] 350GT, especially on the heels of how well Rob [Myers of RM Auctions] did with one and how we did with the DB6 at Newport Beach.”

RM Auctions sold a 1965 350 GT coupe with Touring Superleggera bodywork for $550,000 last April. A 1968 Aston Martin DB6 brought a record $456,500 at Russo and Steele’s inaugural Orange County sale.

The 350GT up for bidding at Scottsdale is an early production model with Touring coachwork and an engine-turned machined steering wheel and dash surround.

“The Birdcage Maserati is a bit of a calculated risk,” Alcazar said, explaining that the 1959 Maserati Tipo 61 “bird cage” being offered at Scottsdale is the serial number 2459 car built for Briggs Cunningham’s racing team and driven to three victories in 1960 by Walt Hansgen. But it also was the car that crashed heavily in 1962 at Daytona.

Years later, the car was reconstructed by an Italian collector and in 2010 was granted its FIA Historical Technical Passport, making it eligible for international vintage racing events. Last year the car won its class at the Keels & Wheels concours in Texas and has been invited to Amelia Island in 2014.

“It has a new skin, new chassis, new drivetrain,” Alcazar said. “You’re not going to put a 100-percent original Birdcage on the track, but this car may be even more enticing if you want to go vintage racing.”

Photo gallery images courtesy Russo and Steele

Other headline vehicles for the Russo and Steele auction include:

  • * a 1969 Yenko Chevrolet Camaro:
  • * a 1971 Chevrolet Corvette LS6 convertible;
  • * the Hemi-powered 1965 McKee sports racer built for Richard Petty to drive in the Can-Am series (he ended up drag racing instead);
  • * a 1972 Ford Torino raced by Bud Moore’s NASCAR team;
  • * a 1969 Shelby GT350 SCCA B-Production racer.

But Alcazar — after all, he’s just a car guy — gets just as excited when he talks about car such as a 1973 Porsche 911S owned by the same family since new, a Targa-topped 1980 Toyota Celica Sunchaser, and a 1968 Saab 96.

“It will be fun to be on the block with these cars,” he said.

Eye candy: Emblems of an automaker’s self-image

The prancing horse. The triton. The bow tie. The double chevrons. The three-pointed star. Four interlocked circles. One circle but divided into four pie-shaped sections, two blue, two white, to create the illusion of a spinning airplane propeller. Henry Ford’s signature, or at least his last name, enclosed within a blue oval.

No doubt, each of those simple descriptions triggers an image in your mind, an image of an automaker’s badge, the emblem it puts on each of its vehicles. In many ways, a company’s self-image placed proudly for all to see. Through the years, automotive badges evolve, sometimes subtly, sometimes radically. And sometimes they simply seem to fade away as an automaker or one of its brands ceases production. Just as there are classic cars, so too there are classic badges. We like to collect them, at least photographs of them, which we’ll be sharing with you from time to time.

All photos by Larry Edsall

 

‘Year at a Glance’ provides a fresh perspective

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Believe it or not, the first hammer of the first sale at the first auction of 2014 falls sometime today, at Dave Rupp’s Fort Lauderdale Beach sale in Florida.

But as the auction action starts anew in a new year, it can be entertaining if not enlightening to take a quick look back at one interesting snapshot of 2013. That snapshot comes in the form of a delightful “Year at a Glance” chart put together by the folks at RM Auctions.

Note: This chart involves only those auctions organized by RM. Nonetheless, it offers a perspective on the classic car hobby and industry that’s noteworthy — and then some.

For example, if you parked nose to tail all of the 879 vehicles sold last year by RM — and those 879 vehicles include a 1932 Garwood boat that was 28 feet in length — they’d form a single line 2.5 miles long.

Of those 879 vehicles, 288 — nearly one out of three — sold for more than their pre-sale estimates.

Bidding on cars and automobilia at RM sales was done by 3,779 people from 52 countries, which makes it a good thing that RM auctioneer Max Girado not only speaks English but is fluent in French, Spanish and Italian as well.

By the way, Girado also is an RM car specialist, which means he not only knows about cars, but he drives them, and drives them passionately. Last year, RM staffers participated in a dozen classic car rallies.

To get to those rallies and to vintage races and to their various auctions last year, RM staffers flew more than 1.5 million miles.

Speaking of miles, the longest distance a car traveled to be auctioned by RM was 6,738 miles. Based on restrictions imposed by classic car insurers, we’re guessing that car was flown, not driven, from its garage to the auction venue.

What was the most popular color among the 879 vehicles sold last year by RM? Red.

But that probably comes as no surprise if you look at what appears to be a bar code in the lower lefthand corner of the chart and realize that those bars represent the sales for 2013 by marque (based on dollars, not number of vehicles). By far the brand generating the most dollars/euros/pounds was Ferrari, followed by Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Duesenberg and Porsche.

Those brands comprised the top five. Next came Jaguar, Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, Talbot-Lago and Shelby. Rounding out the top 20 were Packard, Cadillac, Ford, Bugatti, Delahaye, Chrysler, Chevrolet, McLaren, Lamborghini and — how’s this for a surprise — Toyota!

Who says Japanese cars aren’t emerging as collectible classics?

So, those are my reactions to the RM chart. What about it caught your eye? And who out there volunteers to produce a similar chart at the end of 2014 rounding up not just one auction company’s results but all the classic car auctions?

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Arizona getting Monterey-style automobilia sale

Photos courtesy Automobilia Scottsdale
Photos courtesy Automobilia Scottsdale

Though a sale, not an auction, we’re including this in a series of previews of January events.

When Tony Singer was a college student in Denver in the late 1960s, he went to the local Porsche dealership, not to buy but to look and to dream.

“You’re a young kid. They know you’re not buying.” Singer said of the dealership’s sales staff. “What do they do? They give you a poster.”

Singer put that poster on his wall, and a year after his graduation he was back at the dealership, this time buying a used Porsche 356.

“I started collecting thing related to Porsche,” Singer said. “I always kept my Porsche, but as I had other cars I’d collect things related to them, too, particularly posters.”L1040645

Singer’s poster collection grew, and grew some more, but always remained a hobby. While working as an artist and printer, he also restored and showed  cars (a Porsche 550 Spyder he restored is now part of Ralph Lauren’s collection).

Singer bought some of his posters at automobilia shows in Europe, events at which a variety of vendors sold various car-related collectibles. When he suggested to some British poster vendors they stage such a show in the U.S., they suggested Singer do it himself.

So he did, and thus was born Automobilia Monterey, held now for more than a dozen years in conjunction with those historic races and the Pebble Beach concours d’elegance. Automobilia Monterey has grown in to an event which annually features nearly four dozen vendors and attracts some 1500 customer/collectors.

“It’s only collectibles,” he said. “They don’t come for wine or food or pretty women or all the other stuff. They are people who know very precisely why they’re there, who have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to find, and it’s really become it’s own cool little event. It’s become a gathering of similarly minded people and has an energy that’s all its own.”

On January 16 and 17, Singer launches a second such showcase, Automobilia Scottsdale, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day in the ballroom of the Radisson Ft. McDowell resort, where original — no reproductions allowed — posters, photographs, rally plates, badges, pins, mascots, hood ornaments, signs, scale models, literature, books, original art and other auto-related collectibles will be offered for sale by more than a dozen vendors.

L1040640“We have a great mix of people with a wide variety of offerings,” Singer said. “One has badges. One has mascots. One has books. When the buyer walks in, they have a broad palette of things to choose. They may be looking for one thing, but then they see other things.”

Singer said prices typically start in the $10 range. “Most automobile tends to be less than $100,” he said, adding, however, that there will be items priced at as much as $15,000.”