When I arrived at the parking lot at Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf where cars were being prepped for the Russo and Steele auction that begins today, I asked auction founder and owner Drew Alcazar if he was getting ready to for a classic and collector car sale or for a flag football game.
Flag football, he asked?
Well, I said, how else to explain the yellow microfiber towels he had tucked onto each of his hips? They looked just like the flags that youngsters wear in their schoolyard play.
But there was no play Wednesday for Alcazar and his crew. He simply smiled, pulled out one of the towels and started cleaning yet another car to get it ready for the auction block.
Russo and Steele’s Monterey sale runs through Saturday. We didn’t pull the covers off any of the cars, but of those we could see, here are the ones we liked the most:
OK, I admit it, I’ve developed this thing for fender skirts and the way they lengthen the lines of a vehicle’s design. This 1970 Buick Riviera is from the Thomas Scott Collection. Of the 12 Scott cars being sold at Russo and Steele, six of them are Rivs, cars which drew Scott’s attention even though his original pursuit was muscle cars (and there are several of those offered as well). The ’70 Riv coupe has traveled fewer than 34,000 miles since new and is powered by its factory-installed 455-cid V8.
1940 Buick 50 Super convertible
Under the direction of Harlow Curtice, Buick rallied out of the Great Depression with a lineup of improved vehicles that in 1940 included 10 convertibles, among the debut of the Series 50 Super. Those ’40 Buick convertibles were the first production cars with power tops. Buick also introduced Fore-N-Aft Flash-Way directional signals that year. The ’40 50 Super being offered at Russo and Steele has had the same owner for the last 39 years and often was used in local parades. Oh, and a set of fender skirts comes with the car.
1972 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior Unificato
This was a one-year-only model that reportedly has been driven only 43,000 miles since new and still wears its now-clearcoated original paint. The car originally was sold in Brescia, Italy, where it had two owners in its first three decades and apparently spent some 25 years in “a very long sleep.” The current owner reportedly purchased the car in 2004, replaced the entire fuel system, rebuilt the brakes, did a major tune up on the engine, installed new wiper and heater switch harness and switches and got the car back on the road.
1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale
This is an “older” restoration of the Bertone-designed and bodied Alfa, but “it is still in concours condition throughout and drives as good as it looks,”
Russo and Steele promises in its description, adding that the restoration was of “a 45,000 original miles example” with a five-speed manual and 100-horsepower engine capable of propelling the Speciale to speeds of around 125 miles per hour.
1961 Jensen 541S
Reportedly one of only two left-hand drive cars among the 127 540S models built between 1960 and 1962, and one of only 22 with manual transmission as well. Richard and Alan Jensen and designer Eric Neale wanted a fast, luxurious and safe grand-touring car and built the 540S on a tubular chassis with four-wheel discs and seat belts. The body is fiberglass. Russo and Steele reports this car has been restored and refurbished by its current 11-year owner, and it’s 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine has taken the car only 34,000 miles. The car even comes with California license plate “541 S.”
1949 or 1950 MG Y
The auction description is minimal but the car certainly makes a statement with its presence. For example, one place it calls the car a ’49 and in another a ’50. Regardless, it reports the car has had the same owner for 39 years. Restored in 1979, the car reportedly has won numerous awards at shows. Features include maroon and biscuit Connolly leather, wool headliner and carpet, Jackall system, sunroof, crank-open windshield, trafficators and a pull-up rear window sunscreen. Pre-auction estimated value is $20,000 to $30,000.
Some will see this modified Mustang as a bastard, but I like the early generation Mustang shooting brake (Nomad-style station wagons) I’ve seen and while I don’t care for the flame-job paint on this pickup, the proportions were pleasing to my eye. Plus replacing the tiny back seat and smallish trunk with a useful pickup bed makes this Mustang a sort of mini-Ranchero. Russo and Steele reports the conversion was professionally done and includes a 351-cid V8, C6 automatic transmission and an interior featuring Dakota Digital electric instruments. Pre-auction estimated value is $20,000 to $30,000.
1952 Jaguar XK120
Yes, one more with fender skirts. Russo and Steele reports that this car offered by BlueChip Motorcars, is a numbers-matching example and has a Jaguar Heritage certificate. The car originally was sold to U.S. Army Major Alan Fisher, who shipped it home to California after his tour of duty in Germany. The auction description says the car was displayed at the recent Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance. The description notes that the car comes with its original black phenolic grease gun still “held by two metal clips attached to the driver’s ratchet handle. “