29 January 2013

Scottsdale Auctions: Five noteworthy deals and steals

The big auction weekends in Pebble Beach and Scottsdale aren’t notorious places to snag a bargain. But occasionally, some slip through. It’s often the same of several situations. The first is the “fish-out-of-water” scenario, where a car turns up consigned to an auction company that doesn’t typically sell that type of car. The second simply involves the bidders being asleep at the switch; usually, this happens in the afterglow of a huge sale when a lot of the money is at the bidder’s bar or otherwise taking a break. Here are five of the notable deals from Scottsdale 2013:

  1. 1965 Shelby GT350 ($159,000, Bonhams): This sale was a classic example of the fish-out-of-water scenario. Bonhams is an upper-crust very British auction house known more for selling European cars than American muscle. The ’65 GT350 is probably the purest and most desirable of the Mustang-based cars created by Carroll Shelby. This one went for about half of what they were selling for in 2007.
  2. 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass ($22,000, Barrett-Jackson): No ordinary malaise-era Olds, this was a vintage stock car that was created by legendary builder Banjo Matthews for Junior Johnson. It was actually raced by the equally legendary Cale Yarborough in 1977 and 1978 and authenticated by him. The sale price included an autographed period Bell helmet.
  3. 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 ($280,000, Barrett-Jackson): Everyone — including Corvette legend Ken Lingenfelter — was asleep in the room when this L88 crossed the block. Sporting more than 500 hp (purposely underrated by GM to discourage purchase by non-racers), this was the last of the legendary L88s, and someone bought it nearly half price.
  4. 1971 Dino 246 GTB ($181,000, Bonhams): While this car did indeed make its high estimate, compared with the days of $500,000 chairs and flares 246 Dino Spiders, this looks like a screaming deal (it’s about what a brilliantly restored ’71 Porsche 911S might bring).
  5. 1975 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-40 ($16,225, Russo and Steele): If you’d asked us 10 years ago if we ever thought we’d be listing in the bargain column a Japanese SUV from the 1970s that sold in the high teens, we’d have likely have answered with a resounding no. But in a weekend where Land Cruisers were red hot and one sold for more than 80 grand, this one was a bargain. Maybe not as fresh as the others, it was a decent truck that sold for a fraction of the other Land Cruisers on offer.

7 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Clyde Madsen Orange County CA January 30, 2013 at 17:33
    Muscle cars in particular were selling at 'average' prices all week. I attended the B-J auction with interest in Shelby pricing and was particularly to see the 65 GT350 sell for $220k. With the condition and provenance that car had, I expected to see another 100k to 150k on top of that. Lets just say there were bargains in abundance in Scottsdale this year.
  • 2
    Bob NM January 30, 2013 at 18:38
    Another steal was at Barrett-Jackson. A very nice '69 SS 396 Chevelle sold for $15,500! Many Americans think B-J is the only thing going on in Scottsdale. The Gooding & Co, RM, and Bonham events were different and exciting in their own ways. If you haven't attended the "Car in the Round" method at Russo and Steele you should throw it on your bucket list! Wow what a week!
  • 3
    Mtdesign Arizona January 31, 2013 at 13:24
    I'm not sure a GT350 at $159,000 is a steal. If you look past the high-end auctions in the past two years you can find a number of them lower than that. I suggest you do a little more research and give us something much better to chew on. Many of us are lower end collectors that also drive our cars and reporting on the very high-end examples that aren't drivers doesn't really help much.
  • 4
    steve tomlinson seattle January 31, 2013 at 14:30
    Been a car guy forever and have heard "chairs and flairs" used before, I have no idea what it means. I see the negative connotation...can you explain?
  • 5
    steve tomlinson seattle January 31, 2013 at 14:31
    Been a car guy forever and have heard "chairs and flairs" used before, I have no idea what it means. I see the negative connotation...can you explain?
  • 6
    Michael Rogers Central West Coast January 31, 2013 at 00:04
    Compared to a decade ago things are VERY different! a "Jap" Jeep??! at a classic auction?! Not that they're not really good lumps but a 'classic? What would a #2 Jag Mk-I go for? --Not much more and that's with all the nice furnature and the world changing 3.4 DOHC etc.
  • 7
    Un Happy notarizona February 10, 2013 at 20:46
    By now all the hoopla surrounding the 2013 Scottsdale Classic Car Auctions is starting to die down and while everyone has heard about the fantastic price Barrett-Jackson achieved for the Batmobile and both RM and Goodings got great numbers for classic Ferraris. But not every auction participant has a happy story to tell. I for one have a tale of woe, perhaps a cautionary tale for others considering the consignment of their car to one of the highly hyped auction companies. In my case, for purposes of this story I shall refer to the company I dealt with by the fictional name Rustle & Steal and my experience is not a good one, surprising since I’ve dealt with this company in the past, at both their Monterey and Scottsdale auctions so I had hoped they would at least try to get a good result for my consignment. But as it turned out, they not only didn’t care, they outright lied to me to get my consignment and then seemed to do their worst to ensure that my car wouldn’t sell, at least to a figure anywhere near to what they had earlier agreed was a reasonable reserve. I’ve been around auctions long enough to realize that appropriate placement in the run order is the only way to get a good sale. A very early placement in the sale or too late is the kiss of death, these time slots are used for the P.O.S. consignments, mere auction fodder, low priced and low quality cars that appeal to bottom feeders . . . and I discussed this at length with the Rustle & Steal representative when consigning my car. I was very specific – I had a car that is perhaps the finest example of it’s type in the world (the Rustle & Steal rep even suggested the possibility of setting a new world record price for the model). Again the rep. assured me of a good run time. I should have gotten it in writing, but I thought that with my past relationship with them, there would be an element of trust. There isn’t. Imagine the stereotypical image of the slimiest most disreputable used car dealer in town, they type of guy who would screw his own grandmother or Sunday school teacher for a sale, this auction company has proven to be just as bad, just as dishonest. Prepare yourself accordingly. I had failed to do so, I assumed I could believe them. I relied on their word and I got lied to and caught them trying to steal my car. Those bastards had scheduled my car to run as the third car of the auction – in the P.O.S. lineup! There was a beat-up Corvette immediately before my car and a cheesy 50 year old Curved Dash Oldsmobile replica powered by a Briggs & Stratton lawn mower engine following mine! It was by anyone’s understanding the P.O.S. line-up! From the moment I saw the run order I knew my car wasn’t going to sell . . . and I’m convinced Rustle & Steal knew it and planned for it! If you’ve never consigned a car to auction before – here’s a tip. Always go with a reserve! Not only does this guarantee you won’t have to give your car away for perhaps next to nothing, it should also assure that the auction company will make a good faith effort to sell it in order to earn their commissions! See, it’s easy and natural for an auction company to assign the no reserve P.O.S. cars to the times of day that they know that there won’t be serious bidders in the audience. They will at least get a minimum commission. Such is the fate for the P.O.S. cars - either early in the day or late at night. The run order lets you know what the auction company thinks of your car and how the bidders will see it too. They can actually control perceptions and values to a degree this way. You have to hope they are on your side, but they aren’t always. They weren’t on my side that day. I think I got screwed because they fouled up and thought my car was to run no reserve. This is why they didn’t care what the bids were – they were guaranteed to make commissions off both me and the buyer. While I quickly corrected their mistake about the no reserve, it was too late to change the line-up and run order. My car was in the P.O.S. line-up. If I could have pulled it out then and there I would have – I knew, and they knew, at the early run slot they had assigned, there would be no genuine bidders for my car or any other quality car either. And on the day of the auction, it unfortunately played out exactly as I knew it would. The bidders in the gallery that early there were low-ballers and bottom feeders only. I can’t blame the bidders, but if that’s what I wanted, I could have used eBay! And Rustle & Steal knew that’s who would be there. They simply didn’t care, they had mistakenly thought mine was a no-reserve entry so they made no effort to sell my car. Easy minimum commission for them, car theft victim for me. When my car’s time on the block was over, one of their guys started to beat up on me, just like the sales manager you get turned over to at the sleazy used car dealer store, imploring me to let them sell it for whatever they could get. They even had a pre-prepared form - I saw that they wanted me to drop my reserve to HALF what they had earlier agreed to when they took the consignment. It was ALREADY PRINTED and filled out! Of course I was outraged and insulted. Personally, I think they had an insider all ready to buy it because this car will sell for two or three times more than their number when properly marketed. This happens more often than you realize – auction companies make sure some cars get sold at an unrealistically low price to one of their ‘good old boy’ insiders, and subsequently resold at significant profits. And this is what they were trying to pull with me when they realized they’d goofed and scheduled so it would not sell. What did Rustle & Steal get by lying to me? Not much really, a $600 consignment fee, and I guess, they thought they might steal the car for one of their ‘good old boy’ insiders but that didn’t happen. But what did their deceit cost me? Apart from the entry fee, I spent $850 to get the car there, another $800 to get it home, my travel and hotel expenses were certainly wasted. To add insult to injury, these bastards wouldn’t release the unsold cars including mine until Monday – again adding to the hotel expense I had to incur after they failed on Thursday to sell it. Is there any excuse for that? I think not. What did their actions cost them? Well, they’ve certainly lost me forever as a client and customer, they also ensured that I’ll do my best to dissuade anyone else from doing business with them, and they lost the opportunity to sell a truly fine motorcar to someone who would have been a happy buyer. I don’t know how a company can hope to stay in business by abusing their customers – and I hope they don’t stay in business either! Lest you think I’m merely some naïve car owner with a wholly unrealistic view of my car’s value, I can say that I’ve made a career of selling my cars for the number I’ve always said they were worth or more, and I’ll do the same with this one. But what I won’t do is ever deal with Rustle & Steal again. They’ve lost me as a customer and client forever. I’ll never have a good word to say about them, let the winds topple their tents again as far as I’m concerned. And Drew, all I can say, it ain’t libel or slander if it’s true! Check with Bo and Bemiss, they’ll have to confirm this. Oh, what was my lot I wanted to sell? It was perhaps the world’s finest 1981 El Camino Resto-Mod. The result of a ten year rotisserie restoration of a very rare factory four-speed example. Rust and damage free, originally delivered in Arizona with a properly built V8 with all the right equipment – Edelbrock intake and carb, Keith Black pistons, Erson cam, Hedman headers and Velvetouch clutch backing the Muncie 4-spd, in a bored, balanced and blue-printed 400 small block. With over $45,000 spent on the restoration, the $15,000 reserve was quite reasonable on this virtually perfect car!

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