It’s breakout to breakdown to breakthrough for Russo and Steele

1966 Lamborghini 350GT brings $742,500 at Russo and Steele | Photos by Larry Edsall
1966 Lamborghini 350GT brings $742,500 at Russo and Steele | Photos by Larry Edsall

Russo and Steele Arizona 2014 at a glance

Total sales$19 million
Catalog751 automobiles
Sell-through rate61 percent
High sale$742,500
1966 Lamborghini 350GT
Next 9 price range$187,000 to $335,500
Next auctionJune 19-21, Newport Beach, CA

Drew Alcazar tries to put 2010 out of his mind. But he cannot.

“Rewind the tape to 2010, to the Wednesday night gala party that year, and you remember looking down those two 860-foot tents and they were filled with kick-ass car,” said the founder of the Russo and Steele classic car auction company. “That was our breakout year, our (10th) anniversary year. We had arrived. Russo and Steele was here!”

But suddenly it went from breakout to breakdown. A microburst struck the Russo and Steele auction site on Thursday, the opening day of the sale, toppling tents and damaging cars.

“That was heartbreaking,” Alcazar said, adding how proud he was of his team and how grateful he was to consigners and others who helped put together a two-day sale of what remained.

“The team and the customer loyalty,” Alcazar said. “They did that for (his wife) Josephine and me. That was astounding to see that level of support.”

Since then, he added, Russo and Steele has been working its way back. Last year, it doubled its schedule with new two new auctions and then this January “it all came full circle” with a Scottsdale sale that did $19-million in business, better than an 18-percent increase compared to the same 2013 event.

“Our revenues were up big time,” Alcazar said, adding. “if there was anybody who was due, it was our gang, and nothing could be more gratifying than to see them rewarded this year, to see them with the grin back on their faces.”

1966 Dodge Charger
1966 Dodge Charger

And not only did total sales increase, but so did the sell-through rate, a credit, Alcazar said, to an improved quality of cars crossing the block.

Russo and Steele operates in what Alcazar calls the “sweet meat” mid-section of the classic car market, focusing on cars selling between $50,000 and $500,000.

“The mid-market stuff had been the most adversely affected by the financial ‘correction’ of 2007,” he said, “the home-builder buys, the mid-level executives who used to get nice bonuses.

“But that middle market is starting to show, demonstrating signs of recovery,” he added.

So, he might have said, is Russo and Steele.

 

 

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