30 January 2007

Arizona Auction Week: Russo Steele

This year’s “Auction Week” in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area of Arizona led to some interesting stats. Look at all 4 auction articles on our site and see what happened.

Russo and Steele
Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, January 18-21, 2007

Total Sales: $20,000,000

Top Five Cars
1965 Shelby Cobra 427 Daytona coupe, $1,320,000
1969 Shelby GT 500 convertible, $ 451,000
1965 Shelby 289 Cobra, $ 440,000
1965 Shelby GT 350 Fastback, $ 358,600
1928 Ford T-Bucket “Tweedy Pie,” $ 335,500

Go to Russo and Steele’s Scottsdale sale and you’ll find an approach that’s part theater, part prize fight. The stands surround the stage – the only auction where spectators look down on the action which resembles a boxing ring. It’s all designed to face the bidders off against each other and involve the crowd with chants of “Sell the car! Sell the car!” to induce owners to drop their reserves.

As a relative latecomer to the Arizona auction scene, Russo and Steele had the luxury of adopting some of the best features of all the other auctions and adding in some touches of their own. Many of the cars are high-end, but the atmosphere is informal and charged with energy at the same time. Yet, they’ve managed to create the same frenetic buzz around the car being auctioned as Barrett-Jackson without the incredible crowding.

As the results show, it hasn’t taken Russo and Steele to climb to the top of the world when it comes to offering high-performance Fords, Shelby Mustangs and Cobras. The company also specializes in Rods and high-end sports cars, as well as muscle cars in general.  Occasionally something out of character slips through, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. 

At Russo and Steele only registered bidders and press are allowed in the sale tent, where jeans and baseball caps replace the crisp shirts and slacks prevalent at RM. Instead of having to buy $8.00 hamburgers, Russo and Steele provide a buffet for bidders. Although the general atmosphere is very accommodating, in the ring, President Drew Alcazar – who actually evokes a ring master with his crisp shirt and longish silver hair – and his auctioneer are relentless when it comes to coaxing higher bids or using the crowds to pressure owners into dropping reserves.

Considering the abundance of Camaros, Mustangs, Corvettes and other American muscle, it’s no surprise that for his first transaction with Russo and Steele, Mark Kramer bought a 396 Chevelle convertible from the company. Although he picked up the car at the 2006 Monterey sale, he “wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.

Bill Scheffler has been attending the Arizona auctions for years, but a chance meeting with Drew Alcazar on the Muscle Car 1000 prompted him to consign his 1970 Javelin Trans Am to Russo and Steele. According to Sheffler, “I couldn’t have asked for more advertising.” He loves the “smaller, friendlier, fun” sale and was delighted with a price that topped guide estimates by more than 50 percent.

A former Russo and Steele PR man once referred to the company’s sales as WWF meets car auction. Whether you think of a Russo and Steel as more like a circus, wrestling match or prize fight bout, one thing is abundantly clear: It is fantastic entertainment. On top of that, they have some pretty darned good cars too.

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