Category archives: Auctions

Mr. 25%’s ‘Beatles’ Bentley up for auction at Coys sale

Photo courtesy of Coys
Photo courtesy of Coys

The Beatles had just flown back to England after their American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. Their flight into Heathrow airport landed at 7 a.m. U.K. time, and yet some 10,000 fans were there to celebrate Beatlemania’s success overseas.

Oh, that’s 10,000 fans and a film crew from the Pathe News, which was there to interview the Fab Four.

One of the first questions was how the Beatles were going to spend the money they’d brought back from America.

In unison, John, Paul, George and Ringo answered: “What money?”

“Doesn’t he (the band’s manager Brian Epstein) give any to you?” came the question as the camera rolled.

Have you seen that car of his?”

— George Harrison


“No, no,” said George, laughing, “Have you see that car of his?”

“That car” was parked just outside Heathrow’s VIP suite. It was a new Bentley S3 that had been purchased by the man known as “Mr. 25%,” which was Epstein’s cut of the band’s gross earnings. The car had been ordered late in 1963 and was picked up by Epstein’s valet while Epstein was in the U.S. with the Beatles.

Still wearing its original AJB400B license plates, Epstein’s Bentley will be among the cars up for auction March 11 at Coys Spring Classic sale in London.

Epstein kept the car until October 1965. Now, after 25 years of possession by its current owner, it is being offered up for auction with its original registration and a thick file of his historical documents, which detail such things as its repainting, the overhaul of its engine, and the conversion of its radio to receive FM signals.


McCormick ready for 56th Palm Springs auction

Photos courtesy McCormick Classic Car Auction
Photos courtesy McCormick Classic Car Auction

Keith McCormick was little more than a youngster back in his native England when he began restoring cars at his parents’ home.

“When I got married, we married young and now its 48 years later,” he said of his marriage to Delsey. “We had zero money. The first car we restored as a couple was a Ford Thames van. We paid five pounds for it. We sold it for 25 pounds. There was no looking back from there.”

Well, except the day the police arrived.

“I was selling cars from my home,” McCormick said. “The police posted a notice about misuse of the premise, so we rented a little gas-station forecourt and sold three cars the first weekend.”DSC_5882

Eventually, the McCormicks’ owned five car dealerships, which they sold so they could move to Palm Springs, Calif., in 1981, where they planned to enjoy an early retirement.

But the cost of living in California consumed their savings. McCormick bought a gas station and started selling cars again. He also helped launch the Palm Springs vintage races, which brought motorsports celebrities Stirling Moss, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant to town.

“That gave me name recognition so I could do a car auction,” McCormick said.

Not only did he have name recognition, but he was encouraged by part-time Palm Springs resident and television star Telly Savalas.

We have created a village-type auction atmosphere here,”

— Keith McCormick


McCormick staged his first classic car auction in 1985. February 21-22, he’ll stage his 56th. The location is The Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs.

McCormick and his family — Delsey, their son Jason and daughter-in-law Julie —  a few employees that have sort of become family not only do auctions twice a year in Palm Springs, but also have a classic car dealership.

“Palm Springs has a village-type downtown and we have created a village-type auction atmosphere here,” McCormick said. “We get 20,000 people to the events and we know most of them and what they bought and when they bought it.”

McCormick said he has no interest in doing auctions in other locations. “I’m just a homebody with a wife, kids and grandkids. Everybody gets involved in the business. And we’ve made money along the way. But money is not the big factor in life. Family and being happy is more important.”

McCormick’s auctions feature 540 cars — that’s all there’s room for at the casino — but each event actually can claim closer to 600 sales. That’s because cars that arrive early go to the consignment showroom, where pre-auction sales often take place, thereby opening room for additional cars at the actual auction.LOT 201 1993 VECTOR W8

Speaking of the cars available at the auction, McCormick said they’ll range from MGBs to one of the 17 Vectors (see photo) .

“They’ve sold from $400,000 to $1 million,” he said of the Vector, which he added was the first car to reach 242 miles per  hour on the Salt Flats at Bonneville. “Our’s has done 2,000 miles and belongs to a Hollywood-type whose name we cannot divulge.”

To see the online auction catalog, visit

Artcurial’s French-record sale boosts Retromobile auction total to $80.5 million

1931 Bentley and other cars await their trip across the block | Photos courtesy Artcurial
1931 Bentley and other cars await their trip across the block | Photos courtesy Artcurial

Artcurial Paris 2014 at a glance

Total sales$33.78 million
Catalog191 vehicles
Sell-through rate85 percent
High sale$3.44 million
1953 Ferrari 166MM
Next 9 price range$1.01 million to $2.95 million
Next auctionJuly 5, Le Mans, France

For the third year in succession, Artcurial Motorcars has established a record for the largest classic car auction held in France with its two-day sale during Retromobile, which posted $33.78 million in business.

“We are absolutely delighted with the results of this year’s Retromobile sale,” said Matthieu Lamoure, managing director of Artcurial Motorcars. “Interest was strong across the full range of motor cars on offer and the atmosphere in the sales room was fantastic. It was wonderful to present these cars to a room buzzing with excitement and packed with so many true enthusiasts.

“The results speak for themselves and our close-knit team, with a shared passion for collectors’ cars, gives Artcurial Motorcars a very special character.

“Selling the Ferrari 166MM the following day the day after the car crossed the block) has been the icing on the cake!”

For the first time, Artcurial’s Retromobile auction spanned two days, the second called “Solo Alfa” and devoted to 44 Alfa Romeos.

The 166MM highlighted by Lamoure is a 1953 166MM originally built with a Vignale body, but that was switched out in 1954 for one-off Oblin coachwork. The car, with an extensive racing history highlighted by victory in the Liege-Rome-Liege road race in 1953 and a runner-up finish in the Grand Prix at Spa in 1955, was restored to its appearance at the 1955 Brussels Motor Show.

The Ferrari didn’t quite reach its reserve price in bidding during its appearance on the block. However, consignor and bidder agreed to a price — $3.44 million — the following day, making the 166MM the top sale of the Artcurial auction and the second most costly car (after a 1955 Jaguar D-type at RM) during any of the three auctions during Retromobile, Europe’s mid-winter celebration of classic cars.

'65 Alfa TZ brings $1.289 million at Solo Alfa sale
’65 Alfa TZ brings $1.289 million at Solo Alfa sale

From the mid-1970s until 2001, Artcurial was an art gallery that was part of the L’Oreal (cosmetics) group’s holdings. After the gallery closed, catalog publisher Nicholas Orlowski, with investment from French aircraft and technology company Dassault, bought the gallery and with auctioneers Francis Briest, Herve Poulain and Remy Le Fur, turned it into an auction company selling not only art but objects from wine to watches and from comic strips to classic cars. In 2002, Artcurial moved into the Hotel Marcel Dassault, just off the famed Champs Elysses.

Combined with the RM and Bonhams auctions earlier in the week, the Artcurial sale boosted the Retromobile totals to more than $80.5 million.

The top sale completed on the block at Artcurial was $3.44 million for a 1931 Bentley 8-litre Sportsman coupe with coachwork by Gurney-Nutting. Talk about a long run of awards, the car won the best coachwork trophy from the Royal Auto Club in 1932 and also best-of-show at the Louis Vuitt0n concours in 1999.

In addition to the top-10 sales, all of which exceeded $1 million, highlights of the auction included the sales of:

  • An unrestored 1937 Delahaye 135 Coupe des Alpes cabriolet with Chapron coachwork ($128,888) that had been owned by the same family since 1961;
  • A 1962 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Mulliner-bodied cabriolet ($386,065) formerly owned by French film star Brigitte Bardot;
  • A black-with-yellow-flames 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air coupe ($65,953) formerly owned by Ringo Starr;
  • One of seven 1975 Citroen SM Mylord convertibles by Chapron ($739,958);
  • A barn-found 1941 Pierre Faure electric car ($69,170, which was more than double its pre-auction estimate);
  • A collection of archival material from acclaimed car designer Tom Tjaarda ($17,465).

Top-1o sales | Artcurial Paris (prices include commission)

  1. 1953 Ferrari 166MM by Oblin, $3,441,225
  2. 1931 Bentley 8-litre Sportsman coupe by Gurney-Nutting, $2,955,945
  3. 1924 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A cabriolet by Ramseier, $1,737,076
  4. 1934 Hispano-Suiza J12 Type 68 by Vanvooren, $1,520,940
  5. 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, $1,241,540
  6. 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ coupe, $1,289,366
  7. 1933 Delage D8 S cabriolet by Pourtout, $1,281,647
  8. 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS, $1,213,719
  9. 1969 Lamborghini Miura S, $1,088,669
  10. 1969 Maserati Ghibli Spyder 4.9-litre, $1,011,477



Parisian paradise: Bonhams’ Grand Palais auction generates $23.1 million in sales

Paris' Grand Palais sets the scene for Bonhams auction | Photo courtesy Bonhams
Paris’ Grand Palais sets the scene for Bonhams auction | Photo courtesy Bonhams

Bonhams Paris 2014 at a glance

Total sales$23.1 million
Catalog147 automobiles
150 lots of automobilia
Sell-through rate71 percent
High sale$2.99 million
1968 Ferrari 2785 GTB/4 Berlinetta
Next 9 price range$419,019 to $2.17 million
Next auctionMarch 8, Oxford, UK (classic cars)
April 27, Stafford, UK (vintage motorcycles)

Held during Retromobile, Europe’s big winter-time celebration of classic cars, Bonhams’ Grand Palais auction posted $23.1 million in sales with more than 100 cars, many motorcycles and an array of automobilia going to new owners.

Perhaps the most spirited and lengthy bidding of the event produced the second-most expensive sale with hundreds of spectators applauding the bidding battle for a 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix racer formerly owned by Jack Lemon Burton and Lady Mary Grosvenor.

The car was sold — for $2.17 million — to a bidder who had traveled to Paris from Asia.

The next car available was a 1968 Ferrari 275GTB/4 Berlinetta when sold for record $2.99 million (225,000 euros).

In another lengthy bidding session — perhaps because it was a French car being sold in France — a 1947 Delage D6 3-liter Competition Grand Prix/Sport racer eventually sold for $1.47 million.

Two Aston Martins were among the top-10 sales — a left-hand driven 1962 DB4GT going for nearly $1.6 million — more than double its pre-auction estimate — and a Goldfinger-style 1965 DB5 bringing $1.04 million.

In another highlight, a “barn find” 1962 Facel Vega II coupe which had been kept in storage in the United States for 40 years, sold at the Paris sale for $209,500.

An early highlight in the auction was the sale to benefit charity of a Harley-Davidson owned by Pope Francis.

Photo courtesy of Bonhams
Photo courtesy of Bonhams

Top-10 sales | Bonhams Paris (prices including commission)

  1. 1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta, $2,993,640
  2. 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix deux places, $2,172,695
  3. 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT (Series IV) coupe, $1,598,482
  4. 1947 Delage D6 3-liter Competition Grand Prix Sports biplace, $1,474,328
  5. 1965 Aston Martin DB5, $1,047,549
  6. 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster, $962,193
  7. 1939 Lagonda V12 drophead coupe, $682,847
  8. 1984 Ferrari 126 C4 M2 Formule One (Alboreto) racer, $651,808
  9. 1989 Porsche 911 Speedster, $419,019
  10. 1966 Citroen DS21 “Le Caddy” cabriolet, $419,019


Harburg Collection’s racing cars set pace for impressive RM Paris sale

RM Auction at Hotel des Invalides | Fluid Images photo courtesy RM

RM Paris 2014 at a glance

Total sales$23.7 million
Catalog53 automobiles
Sell-through rate78.8 percent
High sale$4.948 million
1955 Jaguar D-Type
Next 9 price range$599,700 to $3.34 million
Next auctionMay 10, Monaco

RM’s inaugural Paris auction, held during the annual Retromobile celebration of classic cars, posted $23.7 million in sales, and reached that figure with not quite 80 percent of the 53 lots selling.

“We’ve had a fantastic night here in Paris,” RM’s European managing director Max Girado said in a news release after the sale. “We wanted our debut sale to impress by bringing some exceptional cars to market, and with over 17.7-million Euros sold and almost 80 percent of all lots finding new homes, we have continued our amazing track record in Europe.”

The sale featured seven cars with impressive racing histories from the collection of Australian Peter Harburg.

D-type | Simon Clay photo courtesy RM
D-type | Simon Clay photo courtesy RM

“Without a doubt, it was an honor to offer the Harburg Collection, which perfectly demonstrates that the market is hungry for quality cars with important historical provenance,” Girado said.

Four of those Harburg cars represented the auction’s highest-dollar sales, which include commision:

A 1955 Jaguar D-type, formerly raced by Australian driving champion Bib Stillwell and formerly owned by Le Mans-winner Richard Attwood, led all cars at the sale by bringing $4.947 million.

A 1982 Porsche 956 Group C sports prototype that finished third at Le Mans in 1982 was next at $3.35 million.

A 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider raced by Phil Hill and Carroll Shelby brought $2.6 million.

A 1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS sold for $1.72 million.

Another Harburg car, a 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder, was bid to $2.67 million but fell short of its reserve.

In perhaps the biggest surprise of the auction, a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 600 six-door Pullman Landaulet in “barn-found” condition sold for $719,000 — seventh-highest sale of the entire auction — after going to sale with a pre-auction estimate of $100,000 to $160,000.

The catalog-cover feature car for RM’s first Paris auction, a 1953 Gordini Type 24 S that raced at Le Mans, the mille Miglia and the Carrera Panamericana, was bid to $3.34 million but failed to meet reserve, as did a 2008 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP that finished second at Le Mans and won the Petit Le Mans race and was bid to $1.87 million and a 2010 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport bid to $1.13 million.

Fluid Images photo courtesy RM
Fluid Images photo courtesy RM

 Top-10 sales / RM Paris  (figures include commission) 

  1. 1955 Jaguar D-type, 4,947,798
  2. 1982 Porsche 956 Group C sports-prototype, $3,148,598
  3. 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider, $2,623,832
  4. 1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, $1,724,232
  5. 1936 Delahaye 135 S, $1,349,399
  6. 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster, $1,102,009
  7. 1971 Mercedes-Benz 600 six-door Pullman Landaulet, $769,746
  8. 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 S ‘SV Spec,’ $697,189
  9. 1990 Ferrari F40, $689,693
  10. 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300 S roadster, $599,733

Entry-level cars sell well at Mecum’s Kissimmee auction

Big crowds around the block | John Hollansworth Jr. photo courtesy Mecum Auctions

Mecum Kissimmee 2014 at a glance

Total sales$63.4 million
Catalog2,750 automobiles
3,000 items of “road art”
Sell-through rate64 percent
High sale$560,000
1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda
Next 9 price range$240,000 to $530,000
Next auctionApril 4-5, Davenport, IA (vintage tractors)
April 10-12, Houston, TX (classic cars)

If you watched the live NBC television coverage of Mecum’s marathon Kissimmee classic car auction, you saw the 1956 Chevrolet Corvette SR prototype known as the “Real McCoy” sell for some $2.3 million. But if you looked at the official top-10 sales posted at the conclusion of the auction, you likely wondered why a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda that sold for $560,000 was listed as the event’s high-dollar sale.

“The car (Corvette) crossed the block and sold on the telephone on live television,” said John Kraman, Mecum’s director of consignments. “We’d hoped for a little more, but the seller was OK with the amount.”

But not everyone was OK with the sale.

“We started to hear rumblings,” Kraman said, adding ,that it wasn’t until after the 10-day auction was over and he was back at Mecum headquarters in Wisconsin that he learned that parties had came forth saying that they owned parts used in the car’s restoration and therefore had a claim against the sale, which was called off.

What happens next is up to the seller and those contending ownership. “We’re just the intermediary,” Kraman said, adding that, fortunately, “nobody’s mad at us.”

5 of top 10 sales were Corvettes | David Newhardt photo
5 of top 10 sales were Corvettes | David Newhardt photo

Yes, he said, Mecum would have liked to add a couple million to the auction sales total of more than $63 million from the sale of 1,759 of the 2,750 vehicles that crossed the block. But while there may be some disappointment over what happened with the Real McCoy, Kraman said there’s no displeasure with the overall auction.

“It was immense,” he said. “It was so many people having such a good time over such a long length of time. People were there celebrating collector cars.”

Kraman said the first few days of the auction featured “affordable car after affordable car, sub-$10,000 cars.” Then came a day for what Mecum calls “road art” (automobilia) and then the higher-dollar cars filled out the rest of the 10-day schedule.

“A lot of people said, ‘You can’t do it. It’s too long, and competing with Scottsdale,’” he said. “But we had another amazing event. We had a great auction.”

Mecum’s eagerness to include so many entry-level cars “doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint,” Kraman said. “You want the most expensive cars you can because you’re working off a percentage.

“But we don’t look at it that way. Dana’s requirement is to inventory-manage properly, to have the right cars on the right days in the right time slots, and to build up gradually toward the climax.”

There’s a lot of interest in vintage pickup trucks and in four doors instead of just two.”

— John Kraman


Kraman noted that the sell-through rate on entry-level cars consistently ran more than 80 percent and topped 90 percent for long stretches of time.

“There’s a lot of interest in vintage pickup trucks and in four doors instead of just two,” he said. “Those were about half the entry-level docket.”

Another big group, he said, was that of late-model European luxury cars, especially 1970s and 1980s Mercedes-Benz sports cars, the “SL series.”

Who buys them? “There are three different buyers,” Kraman said. “There are (classic car) dealers buying cars. There are collectors coming to buy two, three or maybe five or six cars who might see a $6,000 ’79 SL as a summer driver in addition to the $200,000 Boss 429 Mustang they’re also buying. And there are people who come to buy a specific car, a car they’ve always wanted.”

Kraman said Kissimmee clarified a couple of trends he’s seen developing, both at Mecum auctions and during his recent visit to Scottsdale and other venues: the popularity of 1950s pickup trucks, either restored to stock condition or customized, and a fast-growing demand for 1970s Pontiac Trans Ams.

“Trans Ams continue to gain in value and buzz,” he said, “as we shift away from boomers stuck in the ’50s and ’60s. There are not a lot of choices in the 1970s, and the Trans Am is the car from the ’70s to have. Prices are very strong.”

Prices also were very strong for Corvettes. Had the event been a Corvette-only auction, it still would have generated $11.89 million from the sale of 232 of the Chevrolet sports cars. Several of those cars came from the Vance Shappley Collection, including a 1969 L88 convertible, a ’63 Z06 “tanker” and a ’64 “big tank” coupe (see chart below for details).

Two other Corvettes also were among the top-10 high-dollar sales.

John Hollansworth Jr. photo courtesy Mecum Auctions
’71 Hemi ‘Cuda | John Hollansworth Jr. photo courtesy Mecum Auctions

Ford Mustangs were strong, with more than 120 selling for nearly $5 million.

Also impressive was the sale of more than 100 Mopar products, including the 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda that led the auction at $560,000.

More than 40 Porsches were sold, led by a 1973 911S coupe for $200,000 and a 1958 356A 1600 Super cabriolet for $195,000.

Top-10 sales / Mecum Kissimmee:

1. 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda (Lot S143) at $560,000
2. 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 coupe (Lot S179) at $530,000
3. 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 convertible (Lot S165.1) at $510,000
4. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 tanker (Lot S150.1) at $475,000
5. 1964 Chevrolet Corvette big tank coupe (Lot S181.1) at $350,000
6. 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition (Lot S196) at $320,000
7. 1967 Plymouth Barracuda Hurst Hemi Under Glass (Lot S200) at $300,000
8. 2006 Ford GT (Lot T181.1) at $242,500
9. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette coupe (Lot S156) at $240,000
10. 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 fastback (Lot S141) at $240,000

Prices indicate hammer prices, excluding sales commission.

Mecum's massive Kissimmee auction venue | David Newhardt photo courtesy Mecum Auctions
Mecum’s massive Kissimmee auction venue | David Newhardt photo courtesy Mecum Auctions

Pope’s Harley brings $404,500 for charity at auction

Photo copyright L'Osservatore  Romano | courtesy of Bonhams
Photo copyright L’Osservatore Romano | courtesy of Bonhams

After six minutes of bidding earlier today, the hammer fell and Pope Francis’ 2013 Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide sold for $404,500 at Bonhams Paris sale. A Harley-Davidson jacket donated by the pope brought another $78,000. Proceeds of both sales go to the renovation of Caritas Roma’s Do Luigi di Liegro hostel and soup kitchen in Rome’s Termini railway station.

The hostel opened 30 years ago to help the homeless, jobless and poor.

The Harley and the jacket, both signed by Pope Francis, were given to the pontiff by the American motorcycle manufacturer during the company’s 110th anniversary celebration last summer.

“I am thrilled with the result achieved and am very pleased for the charity,” said Ben Walker, head of motorcycle sales for Bonhams. “It has to be a world record for a twenty-first century Harley-Davidson and certainly for a Harley-Davidson leather jacket.”

“We are delighted with the results of the sale, which far exceeded any of our expectations,” said Enrico Feroci, director of Caritas Roma. “We would like to thank Bonhams for their professionalism with handling the motorcycle and for all their efforts in helping us to achieve such an amazing result.”

Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques du Monde sale continues today at the Grand Palais in Paris.


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.



‘We made magic,’ Craig Jackson says of Scottsdale auction

Cars and more covered by structures stretching eight-tenths of a mile at Barrett-Jackson | Photos by Larry Edsall
Cars and more covered by structures stretching eight-tenths of a mile at Barrett-Jackson | Photos by Larry Edsall

Barrett-Jackson Arizona 2014 at a glance

Total salesMore than $113 million
CatalogMore than 1,400 vehicles
Sell-through rate99.6 percent
High sale$3.85 million
1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Coupe
Next 9 price range$990,000 to $2.86 million
Next auctionApril 11-13 in Palm Beach, FL

With a record $113-million in sales, with a new television package setting standards for high ratings, and with all of it happening in a spanking new arena, was there anything about the 43rd Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction that didn’t bring a big smile to Craig Jackson’s face?

“Everything went better than you could have hoped,” said Jackson, chief executive and chairman of the auction house co-founded by his father. “Sure, there were teething pains with the new building, but even that was better than you could have hoped for (and attendance also set a record, more than 300,000 people visiting the WestWorld complex during the auction).

“And we made magic (on the block and on television). The Fox broadcast pulled huge ratings; we were No. 3 for the weekend behind football and basketball games,” Jackson said, adding on each of the four Fox channels that carried parts of the auction, “on every network we exceeded their normal ratings.

“Here’s a great one,” he added, “I beat Fox Sports 1 when we were on Fox Sports 2. We pulled more viewers on a network half the size!”

'The Rebel" Corvette
‘The Rebel” Corvette

And yet, Jackson said, with viewers having to switch among four channels, there was some confusion. “I wish everybody could have found us,” he said, adding that, “We spent a lot of time on social media trying to direct people.”

Nearly 1,400 vehicles were sold during the auction. Of those cars, 14 were sold to benefit charities, which this year benefited to the tune of $4.4 million. The sale of a 2014 COPO Chevrolet Camaro sent $700,000 to the Achilles Freedome Team of Wounded Veterans, a 2014 Camaro Z/28 earned $650,000 for Cornerstone Schools, and a 1966 Ford F-100 Shelby custom added $450,000 to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan Foundation. Other beneficiaries included the Armed Forced foundation ($750,000 for the sale of a car and an airplane), Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation ($300,000 from the first public sale of a 2015 Ford Mustang GT), and the list goes on.

Eight vehicles sold for $1 million or more during the auction, led by a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 for $3.85 million and the 1969 Corvette Rebel race car for $2.86 million. Also exceeding $2 million was a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” coupe presented on the block with famed auto racer Sir Stirling Moss in the passenger’s seat.

“Selling the two L88 (Corvettes) during the Fox broadcast and both setting records, and then during National Geographic (channel) coverage selling the Gullwing with Sir Stirling in it,” Jackson said. “It was an honor to have him there, and it was a spur of the moment thing, but it was shown on the big screen in Times Square in New York!”

But while those were great moments, Jackson said, what he likely will remember longest about the auction was the moment that Don “The Snake” Prudhomme drove a nitro-burning Hot Wheels funny car onto the auction block.

Jackson revealed that the magical moment had been rehearsed the night before so the Scottsdale fire department could give its approval to fire up such a car inside a building.

Speaking of that building — the massive new pavilion forming the cornerstone for an L-shaped unit of buildings and tents that stretched eight-tenths of a mile — it not only provided good air exchange but permanent bathrooms and an environment in which weather is not an issue.

The Hot Wheels cars — two racers and the trucks that hauled them during their historic series of races — didn’t sell on the block, but a deal was done  immediately afterward for them to be purchased by NASCAR racing team owner, car collector and mega auto dealer Rick Hendrick.

“It was win-win at the end of the day,” Jackson said, who said Prudhomme was adamant that the set of four historic vehicles stay together.

“The Snake is happy where the cars are going. Rick’s happy to get them, but now, he said, he has to figure out where to put them.”



Even with its Arizona sales down, Gooding & Company sees strength in classic car marketplace

Photos by Larry Edsall
Photos by Larry Edsall

Gooding & Co. Arizona 2014 at a glance

Total sales$49.46 million
Catalog117 automobiles
Sell-through rate94 percent
High sale$6.16 million
1958 Ferrari 250 GT cabriolet
Next 9 price range$1.53 million to $5.28 million
Next auctionMarch 7 at Amelia Island, FL

What everyone seemed to be talking about during Arizona Auction Week was the sale on the opening day of the Gooding & Company event of a garage-found 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “gullwing” coupe for just shy of $1.9 million. We’ll also be discussing that sale, and with Gooding car specialist Garth Hammers providing his perspective, though not right now, not in this article, but in another we’re working on for later in the week.

Here, with Hammers’ help, we want to put the overall Gooding sale in perspective, and thus must point out that Gooding & Company was the only one among the six auctions in Arizona to take in less money this year than it did at its sale the previous year.

Nonetheless, Hammers said, “We were very satisfied, very happy, and we see all sorts of strength in the market. We just saw a slightly smaller number, (although) not a negligible amount.”

In Arizona in 2013, Gooding sold 101 classic and collector cars for $52.6 million. In 2014, those figures were 110 vehicles for $49.5 million. Gooding’s 6-percent drop is all the more noticeable when you consider that the other five auctions enjoyed a 16-percent increase in sales at their 2014 Arizona sales.

But things are far from bleak at Gooding. For one thing, its Scottsdale catalog in 2013 included a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder that sold for more than $8 million (making it the eighth-most expensive car sold at any auction anywhere on the planet in 2013).

For another, one of the high-dollar cars that did not sell during Gooding’s 2014 Scottsdale auction, a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB, already has sold during the 30-day post-auction sales period, which probably boosts Gooding’s Scottsdale total by another $2 million.  There is at least one other similarly valued car from the auction for which Gooding specialists are working to close a deal.

“We’ve had a good number of 100-percent sold sessions at Scottsdale,” Hammers said. “It needs to be expected that something won’t sell. It always comes down to the bidders in the room, not the day.”

Though a Cal Spyder at RM led all sales in Arizona this year, Gooding did post the Nos. 2 and 3 cars, getting $6.16 million for a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT cabriolet and $5.28 million for a 1997 McLaren F1 GTR racer. The $3.3 million paid for a 1956 Ferrari 410 Superamerica gave Gooding three of the top-5 sales at Arizona, a very strong showing indeed.

gooding1Gooding’s Scottsdale sale has become so consistently strong that this year it moved to a larger piece of ground on the other side of Scottsdale’s Fashion Square mall so it could set up its new and enlarged set of auction tents — four of them arrayed around an open, courtyard-style display area.

That same setup will be used later this year at Gooding’s big Pebble Beach auction, but they also were needed at Scottsdale where the big auction-block tent was packed to overflowing both days of the sale.

“A couple of times I had to race to the back of the auction room to affirm bids back there and it was tough to get back there (through the crowd),” Hammers said.

Not only the size of the crowd but its composition brought a smile to Hammers and the other Gooding’s staffers. That’s because many of the faces Hammers saw in the room were unfamiliar, and that’s a good thing.

New bidders, he said, are “a great indicator of strength in the market. The cars are not just trading among people we’ve known for a number of years. There are new bidders with new enthusiasm. Some are younger, but they’re not always younger. But we’re seeing bidders in their 30s and 40s, coming into their own.”

Hammers said some of those new bidders have grown up in car-collecting families, but many others have not. Many, he said, have friends with classic cars who have talked about how much fun they have on vintage vehicle tours and rallies being staged all around the country and even overseas.

“They’ve heard about this rally or that one and they say, ‘I want to go next year,’ and now they’re turning into real enthusiasts,” Hammers said. “The events, and the popularity of events, that have taken place over the last five or six years has driven this.”