The Collector Car Auctions in Scottsdale this past week were great… and the 70 degree weather was nice too. I must admit, as I got off the plane to ONE degree in Minneapolis I pondered a permanent change in geography and lifestyle.
There were lots of great cars, some huge sale numbers… and some not so huge sale numbers. There was virtually every kind of car imaginable, lots of Mercedes-Benz cars representing over 120 years… from an 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen to a Mercedes McLaren that’s just a few years old. SLs were the star cars… 300SLs appeared at each of the sales I attended, more than one at several of them. Pagoda SLs were very well represented, as they continue their steady price rise. There were a couple of 190SLs and more R107 and R129 ‘just used cars’ than I could count. Classic Mercedes Coupes from the 50s and 60s were present as well and one very imposing 1935 500K Cabriolet A.
I am working on a number of stories related to the auctions… about specific auctions, about specific cars at specific auctions and why things happened as they did.
Each sale really has its own personality. Different crowds are drawn to each auction for different reasons. You have the elephant in the room… Barrett-Jackson, which is what most people think of when they think of the Scottsdale in January, many people don’t even realize there are other auctions going on. The best description of Barrett-Jackson that I can come up with is that it’s basically like the Minnesota State Fair except inside the buildings, there aren’t animals, there are cars. Russo and Steele seems a bit like a WWF Pro Wrestling event, but instead of two big sweaty guys going at it in the ring, there are collector cars of (widely) varying quality rolling through looking for new owners. Gooding and Company and RM Auctions clearly cater to the highest end Robin Leech champagne and caviar set. The quality of cars at these events are as good as any sale in the world. Gooding creates a lively, rather laid back atmosphere, considering the millions of dollars being spent on individual cars in a series of very comfortable tents. RM gets my vote for best venue, the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Arizona Biltmore Hotel and Spa Complex. Their cars are nicely displayed outside among the palm tree lined drives and inside in a ballroom where you would expect a wedding reception instead of a car auction, but this is no normal car auction. In the auction room things are fairly quiet and very orderly.
I attended the Consignment Tour at RM Auctions put on by Sports Car Market Magazine which was interesting. The availability and openness of the RM Auction analysts and Carl Bomstead and Keith Martin from SCM was great. While higher profile in the car hobby than a guy like me, they’re still just car guys… their insights are interesting and you can tell they’re having a lot of fun walking among these wonderful discussing the pros and cons of each or speculating as to why the market is moving this way or that.
Cruising from preview to preview and sale to sale was a blast… I ran into a number of old friends, made some new ones and got to know some friends I already had just that much better. I hope to recount the highlights on the DaveKnowsCars blog over the next few weeks as well as in a number of articles on the SLMarket website. If you’re not familiar with the SL Market Website or the printed SL Market Letter, I encourage you to click the link to that website in the upper right of any page on on the DKC blog. In the meantime… here is a taste of some of the Mercedes-Benz vehicles that caught my eye… there are many more, this is just a sampling!