Russo and Steele Scottsdale Revs Back Jan. 19–23

Start your engines for the most exciting Russo and Steele yet.

The Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auction celebrates 11 years serving the car-collector hobby with its annual Scottsdale event Jan. 19–23, 2011. This year’s expanded auction will be at 18601 N. Scottsdale Road, just south of the Loop 101 Freeway in North Scottsdale.

This year’s Russo and Steele features a new 50,000-square-foot Losberger main structure, incorporating all the event elements: the signature R/S auction in the round, indoor vehicle staging, vendors, sponsors and amenities.

More than 650 European sports and American muscle cars, hot rods and customs will be auctioned, including marquee vehicles such as a 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 CSX1001, a 1968 Shelby GT500KR, a 1993 Jaguar XJ220, a 1965 Maserati 3500 GT, a 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible and pre-war collectibles such as a 1932 Packard 902 and, from the following year, a Plymouth Coupe Street Rod.

Auction events begin Jan. 19, capped that night with the Preview Charity Gala, for registered bidders and guests, benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona. The auction itself begins Jan. 20 and continues through Jan. 23, with previewing at 10 a.m., followed by a daily memorabilia auction. The cars then roll up onto the blocks until evening daily. On Sunday, Russo and Steele will offer a Champagne Brunch marking the final day.

“This year’s event represents a paradigm shift for us — a large and dramatic set of changes designed to make this an event that car collectors and hobbyists will be blown away by,” says Drew Alcazar, who owns the company with wife Josephine. A second Russo and Steele auction is held each August in Monterey, Calif.

In addition to the new football-field-long structure, all ticket-holders will be able to see the vendors, the cars, which will be staged inside this year, and the auction itself. In prior years, the general public could see only the outdoor staging; the interior was reserved for bidders, consignors, vendors and invited guests.

Says Drew: “I like to produce an event that I want to go to, an event that’s exciting to me. And that camaraderie, what we call at Russo and Steele ‘By Enthusiasts, For Enthusiasts,’ extends to everyone who has passion for great cars. So, we’ve made the decision to open up the auction this year. Let’s welcome more people inside.”

This will allow more guests to enjoy the unique excitement of the Russo and Steele auction in the round: the thrill of bidding victory and agony of defeat. “What connects the dots is the relationships developed, and this new process offers a unique environment for everyone with a passionate, visceral connection with the collector-car hobby.”

Of course, bidders and consignors will enjoy the special amenities provided them by Russo and Steel. This year, a number of fine local restaurants, such as Eddie’s House in Scottsdale, will provide food for buyers and sellers. They will also enjoy the signature Bidder’s Bar, this year next to a new 40 x 50-foot staging ramp created just for them.

“Despite the economy, I see a strong, stable marketplace out there for well-documented cars,” Drew says. “The demands of discriminating buyers will be met with quality, ‘no-stories’ collectibles.” In fact, he will participate in a seminar, “The Real Horsepower Behind the Current Market: Trends and Values” Friday, Jan. 21, 9–11 a.m. The emcee is Barry Meguiar from Car Crazy and Meguiar’s. An RSVP is required.

This year, he adds, Russo and Steele will be offering a few no-reserve cars as well, although most vehicles on the block will be sold at reserve.

“Clients have asked us to provide this alternative,” Drew explains. “We properly counsel them about the no-reserve scenario: their expectations and their responsibilities as sellers. But, our standards remain the same for all of the vehicles we accept for auction, regardless of the conditions under which they are being sold: The quality of the car is number one.”

Offered at reserve is a 1993 Jaguar XJ220, produced with Tom Walkinshaw Racing between 1992 and 1994. Drew notes that only 278 were built and just 15 came to the States: “Until the McLaren F1 debuted in 1994, this premium exotic held the record for the highest top speed of any production car.” He notes that, 16 years later, it remains one of the top 10 fastest supercars ever at 217 mph and 0–60 in 3.8 seconds. The twin turbo V-6 outputs 542 bhp with a five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel vented disc brakes.

A bookend to this is another classic exotic, a 1965 Maserati 3500 GT, the penultimate year for the coupe, which debuted in 1955. “This hand-built car is a seldom-seen late-production specimen, with items such as operable side windows,” Drew explains. He adds that it’s finished in the correct factory shade of blue, was recently professionally refinished, color-sanded and buffed following a comprehensive exterior disassembly.

Another set of collector book-ends: the 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible and, from the same year, a Dodge Hemi Challenger R/T Convertible. “This is easily the best Mopar year we’ve ever had, and these two cars are among a list of extraordinary specimens we’ll be offering,” Drew says.

The ‘Cuda is one of 14 examples of a 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible built and one of nine that left the factory with an automatic transmission. Finished in correct and authentic W1 white-over-red interior, the car is classic Mopar muscle with a 425-horsepower 426-cubic-inch Hemi V-8 and Hemi-specific Torque-Flite 727 three-speed automatic transmission. The numbers-matching car has just 19,000 miles from new and features power steering, power front disc brakes, power windows and the Rallye gauge package.

Says Drew: “This Mopar masterpiece received a top-flight nut-and-bolt rotisserie restoration just over two years ago — far beyond original production standards — and comes with documentation that covers its entire history.”

Rarer still is the equally svelte Challenger Hemi convertible. These were available for only one year — the apogee of the Muscle Car era. Only 12 were built in the world, and this is one of nine built for the U.S. market. Only five had the specific Hemi four-speed mated to the legendary 426/425 horsepower Hemi. This one, Plum Crazy over Black, is the only one equipped with the Super Trac Pak Dana rear end with Sure Grip and 4.10 gears.

The car was restored in the early 1990s by Milt Robson and carries the R/T-standard Rallye instrument cluster, electric clock, wood-grain-trimmed door panels, dash and console, and the iconic Hurst Pistol-Grip shifter. “It’s documented by none other than Galen Govier and listed in the Chrysler Registry and is one of hairiest rag tops ever to come from Detroit — or anywhere else,” Drew says.

Finally, the 1965 Shelby CSX1001 was completed as a semi-competition Cobra for Carroll Shelby by Shelby American with the new all-aluminum Shelby 427 engine based on the original FE Engine design. “The original owner of CSX1001 was Carroll Shelby himself, and it was titled to him as a 1965 Shelby AC Cobra,” says Drew, adding that the original title showing Carroll Shelby as the first owner of CSX1000 goes to the new owner.

Russo and Steele Scottsdale 2011: Great cars, great company, and a high-performance comeback people will be talking about for many years.

“Holy cow, these guys took a huge hit last year, and look at how they responded,” Drew says. “That’s the statement we’re looking to make. And we’ve already heard great things from our clients — the excitement they’re feeling about the changes we’re making.

“Just like Rocky Balboa: We were hit but we’re still standing — and swinging harder than ever!”

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