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Arizona auctions heat up

Wed, 19 Jan 2011 00:00:00 -0800

If you wanted to attend all of the automobile auctions in Arizona's Valley of the Sun this month, you already missed one if you didn't show up at the Scottsdale International Classic Cars Auction, Jan. 1-2.

But there are plenty more. Motoexotica partnerered with Manheim Auctions for an event at Manheim's Tolleson facility Jan. 14-15. (Find more information at

The valley's 500-pound gorilla, Barrett-Jackson, opened on Jan. 17 for a preview day; cars started rolling across the block on the 18th. Barrett-Jackson's “lifestyle” focus brings literally miles of aisles of car-related stuff under the hugest tent ever.

Barrett-Jackson has it all, from a 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda to the Pontiac ambulance that transported the body of John F. Kennedy after it arrived in Washington from Dallas. All Barrett-Jackson cars are listed at no reserve; they tend to be more expensive as the week goes on. If you're in Arizona on a budget, Tuesday and Wednesday, before the TV lights go on, might be the time to buy. (See details at

Not far from Barrett-Jackson's WestWorld address is Russo and Steele, returning to its former location alongside the 101 Highway in Scottsdale. Russo had a rough start to 2010, with severe tent and vehicle damage from high winds during its event. Russo and Steele and Barrett-Jackson had a press-release war in December over the use of a piece of land that Russo proposed as a new site but which Barrett-Jackson said was part of its overflow parking plan. The “he said/she said” seems to have calmed for now, but the crosstown rivalry goes on. Russo has dropped its what-were-they-thinking all-reserve format. Its lineup now features cars with and without reserve, with an emphasis on American classics and muscle. (Check out for more details.)

About as far away as you can go and still be in Scottsdale sits the Fashion Square Mall, and behind it, you will find Gooding & Co., Jan. 21-22. At is a huge listing of some of the most important makes and models in the world. The $80 investment for a catalog this year (admits two!) might be among the best buys at Scottsdale. If your wants lean toward a barn-find Tucker 48 in a bad shade of turquoise, your car awaits at Gooding. The early line has this one selling for less than $1 million, but barn finds are the Beanie Babies of the 2000s, so it could bring more.

The Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa is home to the RM Auctions event again this year, with no blowing-tent worries. The Biltmore is as nice a venue as can be found for an auction. The dates are Jan. 20-21, and the 20th will bring a repeat of last year's all-British event, billed this year as “The British Are Back.” (It's well worth a look at If you're looking for a serious collector car, RM, as usual, has some of the best on the planet.

Silver Auctions returns to Fountain Hills; its event at the Fort McDowell Resort Casino is a favorite for many. The focus is on affordable collector cars with a dash of corny jokes. (You can find updates at

The list of “cool and free” in Scottsdale grows ever shorter, but collector-car insurance company Hagerty has something new: the Hagerty Media Center. In Scottsdale, just a few minutes' drive from both Barrett-Jackson's and Russo and Steele's events, the center is housed in the Penske Rolls-Royce dealership and is open to the public. Seminars on original unrestored cars, entry-level collector cars and “Secrets of an Elite Detailer” are among the free events that begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of auction week.

The hot ticket for the week looks to be the Hagerty Global Auction Summit, at the Penske Racing Museum at 9 a.m. on Jan. 20. According to McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty Insurance, “Top-level representatives of all the major auction companies have promised to be present, apparently for the first time ever in the same room. It won't be a smackdown, but I'll bet it will be interesting and entertaining.”

Public tickets to the summit are limited; people who have media credentials from the auction companies can get in by showing the credentials at the door. (Details for all Hagerty events are available online at

Thursday morning also brings a Corvette seminar, held at Barrett-Jackson (details and costs can be found at If Friday is your day for freebies, Russo and Steele has a collector-car seminar on tap. Check its Web site for the details.

By Dave Kinney