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Scottsdale Auction Recap

By Steven S. Brooks Published: February 5, 2010

It has taken me almost two weeks, but I have finally recovered enough from Scottsdale auction fever to write a semi-coherent blog post. It sure was a whirlwind of activity; there are things going on from early in the morning 'til midnight just about everyday. Although it's not for everyone, if you're a real car enthusiast, you should make the trek at least once in your life. That January week in Arizona simultaneously embodies all that's great and all that's wrong with the collector car world. Great cars, great people, unmatched greed and pervasive element of deceit; how can you resist?

Barrett-Jackson: The former eight hundred pound gorilla has become an absolute parody of itself. Lots of cars that nobody really cares about (even the hardcore Camaro guys complain about how many show up) and an atmosphere which can only be described as "second-rate circus meets third-rate flea market". Better watched from home and, even then, limit your viewing time for risk of numbing your mind.

RM: The people who brought class to the Scottsdale auction scene did their typical fine job at the finest facility of any auction in the country, the Arizona Biltmore. I felt the overall quality of the cars was down a bit this year but they still had a successful sale totaling nearly $20 million.

Gooding and Company: Relative newcomers to the Arizona auction arena, they absolutely stole the show this year. The cars were outstanding across the board and they recorded four of the top five highest individual sales of the entire week. The location at Fashion Square was convenient and, even though it was in a tent, all arrangements were first class.

Silver: The good people at Silver never disappoint in providing a solid array of good cars for the entry level collector. Don't look for Duesenberg and Bugattis here, but there are great deals to be had on very cool and accessible cars like Cosworth Vegas and Studebaker Hawks.

Russo and Steele: By now, everyone has seen the tragic photos of the damage caused at this auction by the severe weather on Thursday. The county sheriff commandeered the site and didn't allow organizers and car owners on property until Saturday. Kudos to Russo and Steele owner Drew Alcazar for the open and forthright way he managed this natural disaster but, unfortunately, many of the auction cars were damaged to the point where they could not be sold. An abbreviated event started on Sunday, but many of the star cars and bidders were absent.

Kruse: This pioneering auction company's troubles continued with a minor sale outside of the general Scottsdale area and a different week. Let's hope Dean Kruse can resurrect his company once again.

I can't end this post without mentioning my favorite event of the whole weekend. The giant cruise-in at the Pavillions shopping center is in its twentieth year and draws an amazing number and variety of vehicles. Whether you're looking for Classics, European sports cars, customs, rods, etc. you're sure to find things you'll like among the two thousand or so cars that show up. Although the signs say that for sale signs aren't allowed, just about everything is for sale and the owners are there to tell you about their cars. In addition to the great variety of cars at this event, it also is a venue for world-class people watching!

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