What Bob wants to take home from Russo and Steele in Monterey

Russo and Steele's colorful head honcho Drew Alcazar creates an 'action-packed' experience | Larry Edsall
Russo and Steele’s colorful head honcho Drew Alcazar creates an ‘action-packed’ experience | Larry Edsall

The high-energy Russo and Steele collector car auction launches its 17th annual Monterey sale Thursday with more than 200 cars crossing the block over three days in “what is undisputedly the most action-packed event anywhere on the Peninsula,” according to a company news release.

That’s hard to dispute for anyone who has witnessed a Russo and Steele auction. Held in a “theater-in-the-round” format, the action centers on auction chief Drew Alcazar, who sometimes resembles a whirling dervish as he shouts out such auction mantras as “The Reserve is OFF!”

The auction is held at a prime location adjacent to Fisherman’s Wharf in downtown Monterey, sprawling across the parking lots of the tourist venue. The auction arena, and it really is an arena, is housed in a huge tent structure.

As customary with Russo and Steele, the sale focuses on European sports cars and American muscle cars and customs. But just about everything feels right in this venue, including the late-model exotics seen more and more at most collector car auctions. Chief among those are several high-performance Ferraris and a Ford GT painted in the classic blue-and-orange Gulf racing colors.

Wandering around among the auction cars, I picked out a few favorites. Here they are:

1957 Chevrolet Corvette roadster
The ’57 Corvette is always a favorite, its styling looking about perfect, especially if it’s painted Venetian Red like this one. This Vette was totally restored to original in 2015, according to the catalog description, with the correct 283 V8 and 4-speed manual transmission. Coming out of 35 years of single ownership, the Corvette has been driven just 62,500 miles. A truly wonderful example.
1957 Corvette
1953 Ferrari 250 Europa
Most likely the star of Russo’s Monterey auction, this is a luscious example of early styling collaboration between Ferrari and Pinin Farina, and it set the tone for the next decade of Ferrari’s finest. The first grand-touring coupe produced by Ferrari and the first one to wear the 250-series nomenclature, the coupe is powered by the famed Lampredi V12 engine. Ferrari roadsters and track-ready sports coupes get all the attention, but this GT’s exquisite beauty, mighty brawn and historical significance sets it apart.
1953 Ferrari 250 Europa
1960 Jensen 541 R coupe
Here’s something from Great Britain that I’d never seen before in person, a rare (in this country) coupe that was at one time the world’s fastest production four-seater, powered by an Austin 4.0-liter straight six. The styling is pretty striking, with jutting brows over each wheel of the trim GT. The car also has an interesting back story, originally owned by Charles Darwin’s grandson, who was also the nephew of famed economist Lord John Maynard Keynes. Later, the car was a genuine barn find rescued after 40 years of storage and treated to what is described as a $125,000 restoration, with just 900 miles added since. Being British and all, the Jensen is right-hand drive, which is not ideal but easily mastered.
1952 Ford F1 pickup truck
Pickup trucks are, as they say, all the rage, and this one represents the beginning of Ford’s F-Series pickups. This restored cutie in Meadowbrook Green is powered by its period-correct flathead V8 with 3-speed column shifting, but it’s been upgraded for modern driving with such things as lowering springs, front disc brakes, 12-volt electrics, Vintage Air climate control and a stereo system hidden in the glove box. Sounds just right for cruising downtown or taking on an extended road trip.
Ford F1
1966 Ford GT350 ‘Carryover’ fastback
Shelby magic transformed Ford’s newly introduced Mustang, turning it into an all-out performance machine that’s still revered today. This incredibly nice GT350 is considered one of the 252 “carryover” models because they were built from late-1965-model-year Mustangs using the grille, quarter windows and GT instrument panel of the ’66 cars. These Shelbys are wonderful to drive on the road or the track, this one powered by the correct high-performance 289 V8 but with a modern Tremec 5-speed manual transmission, which is a good addition for improved drivability. I’d say this would be the car I’d most like to take home from Russo and Steele at Monterey this year.
1966 Ford GT350 ‘Carryover’ fastback
1964 Porsche 356 C coupe
Representing the final year of Porsche’s seminal sports car, this 356 is in immaculate condition, richly painted in Bali Blue and with the highly desirable sunroof and other key options, verified as factory original on its Porsche Certificate of Authenticity. I’m crazy about these little critters (I have an earlier one, not anywhere near as nice) and this 356 looks like it’s been properly done. The engine and transmission are said to have been professionally rebuilt, and the paint and interior look great.
1964 Porsche 356 C coupe
1970 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40
A personal note here: after a recent media test-drive of a new Jeep Wrangler way out in the Arizona desert, the wife has been after me to get our own rock crawler. This looks like just the ticket, as least it does to me. The wife might think it’s just a tad over the top, but I say why not go for the glory? The FJ should get us anywhere our hearts desire, and would be fantastic for, say, a trip to Moab, Utah. Land Cruisers have been all over the auction circuit in recent years, ever since they suddenly flew up in value. Things have settled of late, although this nicely restored and very well-equipped FJ should ring some chimes among the bidders.
Toyota FJ

Share your comments