Reserve Jan. 16–20 for Russo and Steele

A Yenko, a Jag, a Cobra, and a Spyder.

Scottsdale Photo Radar Alert: Drew and Josephine Alcazar have these sizzling-hot cars and 500 other collectibles revving up and rolling into town again.

Their eighth Russo and Steele “Sports and Muscle in Scottsdale” auction-in-the-round returns to north Scottsdale Jan. 16 through the 20.

Among their 500-plus consigned cars — most with reserve — will be a 1950 Jaguar XK120 Alloy; a 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda; an original, numbers-matching 1965 Shelby Cobra; a rare 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L-88; a 1966 Lamborghini 350 GT; a 1969 Yenko Chevelle; a 1973 Ferrari 365 Daytona Spyder; and a 1950 Allard J2 Roadster.

As before, owners and Phoenix residents, Drew and Josephine Alcazar, will focus on four market segments: European Sports, American Muscle, Customs and Hot Rods.

“We don’t do motorcycles, buses or motor homes. Those segments are already well handled by other events,” says Drew, former general manager at Barrett-Jackson. “Fun, fast, sexy: Our buyers’ passion is the performance and panache of great cars.”

As always, Russo and Steel is tuned to the needs of serious collectors who don’t have the time to dial in all of the Web sites, auctions, ads and collections — or walk around events that attract many more times the numbers of watchers and lookers than buyers and sellers. “Do you really want someone with a baby carriage blocking your opportunity to inspect a car you’re considering spending more than half a million dollars on?” he asks.

Block out Some Space for These Blockbuster Cars

A charity dinner dance gets the weeklong event rolling.

The evening of Wednesday, Jan. 16, the invitation-only Motown Charity Benefit Gala program includes a champagne reception at 6:30 p.m., a formal dinner service at 8 p.m., and entertainment and dancing. The opening program benefits the Emily Center at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. A vehicle preview is held daily, with gates opening at 10 a.m. and the auction starting at noon.

This year’s auction, once again at the big tent on Scottsdale Road, just south of the Loop 101, will expand to 200,000 square feet under tent and debut VIP skyboxes. If you’re looking for classic Ferraris, ‘50’s Chevys, Jaguars, Hemi Chryslers, Cobras, Camaros, Lamborghinis and Shelbys, Mapquest R&S.

As before, the Alcazars have booked a variety of vintage cars for a broad range of buyers:

• The 1950 Jaguar XK120 Alloy is one of fewer than 250 cars the legendary English company produced before discontinuing the aluminum body.

• The 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda, one of 59 four speeds produced that year, is highly optioned. The True Blue Metallic car recently received a full rotisserie restoration.

• The 1966 Lamborghini 350 GT is the model with which tractor-builder Ferrucio Lamborghini burned V-12 rubber in the face of Enzo Ferrari.

• The 1969 Yenko Chevelle is one of 99 of the L72 dealer-customized cars produced, and, from the same year, the L-88 Corvette is one of only 17 with automatic transmission. And,

• The 1950 Allard J2 Roadster is one of 90 — with a 331-cubic-inch, 300-brake-horsepower Cadillac engine.

One of America’s “Big Three” premium auctions, Russo and Steele hosts annual Scottsdale and Monterey, Calif., events. This March, a third Russo and Steele auction will debut in Hollywood, Fla. The name emphasizes the focus of the auction: “Russo” recalls Russo Rubino, the dark color red on vintage Ferrari’s, and the “Steele” signifies the “Detroit Iron” of American Muscle, Alcazar explains.

Last year’s record-setting Scottsdale event welcomed 25,000–30,000 enthusiasts, including bidders who spent $20.5 million to realize dreams for their garages. Since 2000, the Russo and Steele auctions have grown an average of 125 percent annually.

Approximately 30 percent of the attendees travel from out of town — to buy or to sell. The 35–54 age-demographic, the majority of the auction attendees, spends from $50K to more than a half million on their shared passion: collector cars.

“Russo and Steele isn’t everything for everybody but an event for uncompromising enthusiasts,” he says. “Our aim is to keep our attendees, buyers and sellers, focused on their goals and their passion.”

A Barometer — and Some Changes in the Car Climate

This year’s show, as always, will be a market indicator, he says. In the last six months, the collector-car market has changed. For one, the American muscle-car market has adjusted down in the last six months. “Let’s admit it, it’s been saturated,” Alcazar says. “How many vintage hemi Cudas can the market absorb? How many Mustangs? How many Corvettes?”

The recent surge for these cars produced clones — cars that look like original numbers-matching vehicles but aren’t — and resto mods — cars that began with a vintage body but were customized with larger crate engines, for instance, or stylized interiors.

But these markets are down 30 to 50 percent, Alcazar says. This is, however, a natural cycling in the market. “A lot of the early enthusiasm for these cars resulted from buyers caught up in the moment.” Bob Smith saw a dream car in a movie and wanted to own it in whatever way he could. He calls this the “Eleanor Effect.” (In the movie, “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” Nicolas Cage so names a 1967 Shelby 500.)

Education and saturation changes this. “Savvy and astute collectors know that there is nothing collectible about a resto mod or a clone. They’re novelties, what I call ‘leave-the-title-in-the-glovebox’ cars,” he explains. “You enjoy them and walk away.”

Genuine collectors want genuine cars — not interpretations, kit cars or clones. “If he wants a Shelby Cobra, he wants a Shelby Cobra factory born as a Shelby Cobra in 1965,” he says. “For him, or her, a genuine collectible car means ‘original numbers matching,’ no stories — and the documentation to prove it.”

At the same time, the strong market has encouraged outstanding restorations on authentic vehicles. “This year’s auction offers a brilliant opportunity for those who want genuine American muscle cars and intend to have them for eight to 10 years,” he says.

Drew adds that the American muscle-car market is not a global market. “American muscle cars will always have appeal . . . to Americans. They’re iconic, part of our culture, our shared memory.” But Europeans aren’t interested, and the Japanese interest has flattened. At the same time, interest for pre-war American collectibles such as Packards, Cords and Duesenbergs has resurged.

On the other hand, the marketplace for European supercars — Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis and performance Mercedes Benz’s — has shifted up. “The world is their market,” he says. “Everywhere, including the United States, there’s a growing appetite for these cars,” Alcazar says. Superb Austin Healeys, for instance, are drawing six figures.

An Auction with Lots of Reserve

Most of the Russo and Steele cars will be offered at reserve, he explains, although a limited number will be offered at no reserve.

For one, reserve protects the sellers on their investment and ensures buyers of quality and authenticity. “A no-reserve sale has the seller flying without a net,” says Alcazar, who has more than 30 years of experience with collector cars.

For the high-quality car consignor, a really great car comes about in one of two ways, he explains. He or she has paid high for it or has spent a lot of time and heart and soul in keeping it or restoring it to show condition. Alcazar: “That person has a passion for the hobby and enjoys what he or she does; they want to garner what the car is worth.”

With no reserve, the seller is taking risks. If a seller is forced into a buyback situation at a no reserve sale — bidding on the floor, say, had gone dead with a single buyer potentially acquiring the vehicle for half its value — the car becomes an albatross rather than an object of passionate interest.

“That’s where I am most concerned,” he says. “That person could become so disillusioned with the hobby that he or she is not coming back. And that’s not good for anyone. The shortcomings of no reserve so compromise the integrity of the hobby that it no longer has merit. The risk far exceeds the opportunity.”

In the long stretch, reserve auctions protect relationships. “They offer a little lower sales ratio,” he notes, “but they pay dividends in the long-term.”

Developing and maintaining those relationships with quality buyers and consignors remains a priority: His auction tents are only open to those credentialed, and he and Josephine strive to offer them an intimate amenity-rich environment. Her business, Events With Taste, in fact, provides a Rolls-Royce buffet not found at other car auctions.

Most importantly, reserve auctions protect the hobby — and joy is also a center-stage star, not just the great cars. “People call this an industry. It’s not. It’s a hobby, with a common bond of emotion, passion and camaraderie,” says Alcazar, who first fell in love with cars growing up on a guest ranch outside of Denver, Colo., close to the legendary Bandimere Speedway.

“Our clients indulge their passions for collector automobiles at Russo and Steele, and they come specifically to our auction to have fun,” he adds. “If they aren’t having fun, they aren’t coming.”

Russo and Steele,, 602.252.2697