The Russo and Steele auction experience is unlike anything else. Other auctions have bigger bleachers and tall stages, but at Russo the cars are literally the center of attention, driven right through the middle of the room where master showman and Russo and Steele proprietor Drew Alcazar interacts with every single vehicle. Bidders, whose seats flank the car on each side, are encouraged to approach the vehicle under the lights for a closer look as Russo’s animated ringmen add to the spectacle. Every car gets its moment to shine.
It’s fun, it’s a bit chaotic, but truth be told, there are a lot of no-sales. That’s bound to happen when the auction tent only holds a couple hundred bidders and there are more than five hundred cars on the docket. Still, it’s a unique experience in the auction world and noticeable less stuffy than most. Besides that, they have pizza.
We checked into Russo and Steele several times throughout the week and spotted dozens of cars and trucks what we’d love to put in our garage, everything from Toyota FJ Cruisers and classic 4x4 Suburbans to GT500s and Panteras. Through all the noise, something interesting popped out to Hagerty valuation specialist James Hewitt: two wildly different cars sold for the same price.
This low-mileage BMW drop-top is a modern grand tourer with great driving dynamics and BMW’s smooth and powerful N52 3.0-liter inline six. It does have the infamous “Bangle-butt” styling with a trunk line that juts out from the curve of the quarters, a design that, to be fair, is aging nicely over time. Although the 650Ci may not be rare or hard to find, this example seemed like a good buy, especially considering the mileage.
The XJ6’s predecessor was built with three engine options, 2.5-, 3.4-, and 3.8-liter variants of Jaguar’s inline six. This is a 340, which meant it left Coventry with the 3.4, but it is now powered by a 3.8-liter, although not the one you might expect. This California car sports a Buick 3.8 V-6, one of General Motors’ most vaunted engines, known for its reliability. This example is from Palm Springs, and has been built for the desert climate. An original 1968 3.8-liter is worth nearly double what this sold for.
So, if it was your $10K, would you opt for the classic modified for improved reliability or the late model drop-top GT that has all the modern conveniences as originally equipped? Are the Jaguar’s head-turning lines and bright chrome your go-to, or are you an inline-six purist appalled by the swap?