Arizona Auto Auction Action – More Than Just Barrett Jackson

Jan 23, 2016

Back in 2014 I made my first trek west to Arizona Auction Week here in Scottsdale. It was so successful, and I had so much fun, that it is now an automatic repeating event on my January calendar.

Aside from the fact that the weather in Illinois is typically miserable and I have family and friends here I love seeing, this event is a great way to kick off the new year for the classic and collector car hobbyists and professionals alike.

Still often referred to as the Scottsdale “Barrett Jackson” auction, (mostly due to the TV presence) it has grown into something much bigger. In addition to the huge Barrett Jackson show, there a number of smaller, yet no less serious auctions happening, each with their own flavor. Russo Steele, RM, Bonham’s, Gooding’s, to name some that I enjoy attending.

In 2012 I was starting to worry that Mark Baker’s marvelous 100R was going to fall into disrepair due to lack of use. Around mid-year, on a whim, I asked Kathy if she might be interested in trying to sell the car at auction, maybe in Monterey. We felt the ability to see the car would help increase interest, as print ads hadn’t been very fruitful. The only house with space was Russo Steele and they accepted the consignment. We set a reserve in the $90,000 range and sent it to California.

Bidding only went to $ 84,000 so it was decided to simply take it back home. 2013 brought another round of fruitless sales attempts. Kathy Baker and I agreed that if the 100R was sent to Scottsdale, I would come out and marshal it through the process, as well as enjoy some much welcomed family time.

Bonham's Auction - Sport and Specialty's Austin Healey 100R

Bonham’s listing renamed Mark’s car to a 100BN1 Competition and  went into great detail about the car and its history.

Bonham’s accepted the car and it was placed as the last lot of the day. My first auction experience taught me some really valuable lessons, besides patience.

  • First: Don’t try to sell a unique European sports car at a generally American muscle car oriented house. Bonham’s was a far better choice for this car specifically. In my opinion, Russo Steele is a reputable high-end auction house, just far better suited to represent cool American iron.
  • Second: Don’t simply send a car out and hope it is presented well before it hits the stage. You don’t have to camp out, but occasional visits and just answering questions of interested folks can help.

The car hammered at $124,500, with premium, it passed hands at $136,400. For a non-factory Le Mans 100M, that was an excellent price for an excellent car. I must also admit that the bidding to that number was absolutely intoxicating! Once it passes the previous $85K mark I was pretty happy. When it hit $100,000, I was pacing like an expectant father. When it hammered at $124,500 you would have thought the Cubs won the World Series I was so giddy! Fun? Oh yea!

I will post more this week from Scottsdale. I want to share some thoughts on current sports car values and the impending “bubble”. Stay tuned……

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