Saturday, June 20, 2015

An Automotive Lifestyle POV: Russo & Steele Collector Automobile Auction

Super clean two-tone dark blue over baby blue 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 convertible. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

An Automotive Lifestyle POV: Russo & Steele Collector Automobile Auction
By:  James Groth > Miles Ahead Communications 
For: ... notes from The EDJE

EVENT: Russo & Steele Collector Automobile Auction
DATE: Newport Beach, CA June 5-7, 2015

Russo & Steele lived up to its billing as an auction house that includes European Sports, American Muscle, Hot Rods and Customs with a stable of 475 cars that included outstanding examples in every category.

While other auctions houses often focuses one segment of the collector car market Russo & Steele featured the top current trends. This business model works well in Southern California where given the weather you can drive anything with wheels all year long.

Black '05 Porsche Carrera GT. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

One such top performer was the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT producing 605 hp from its V-10 and capable of 0-60 mph in a mere 3.5 seconds, considered the pinnacle Porsche at the time. Adding to the performance appeal is its rarity with only 1,270 produced over a four year period and a sticker price of half a million. Collector cars like this modern one also make the case for return on investment since this ten-year-old car sold for $840,000.

Supercars like this 2006 Ford GT get some sellers queasy. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

Another ROI example was the 2006 Ford GT, when new this car sold for about $160,000.  I had a client that wanted one when it was introduced and few were available. Friend Beau Boeckmann of Galpin Ford was willing to sell one at just below sticker price when others chose to take ten thousands over list. At the last moment the client backed out thinking that the GT would not hold its value.

This owner “brought to hold’ and sold his Ford GT, with198 miles, at sold a top of market price of $337,700.

Ask yourself does your stock market portfolio return similar ROI? Did you have any fun with those stock certificates?  Did you and your lady take the stock certificates up PCH for a weekend in the wine country?  Yes, car prices do go up and down at times with the economy but collector cars do not merge, get overly regulated or go out of business.

Chevy Corvettes are always in demand. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

Sure few people have that kind of money for a car but lets look at what I found to be the best performance value on Saturday.

Remember the early 1990’s Corvette ZR-1 with a motor developed by Yamaha putting out 400 hp? When new it cost over $60,000. How about a red one for $15,000 as your weekend get away car? A 1991 ZR-1 coupe sold at no reserve for that plus buyer fees. These cars have bottomed out and will only go up during the time your enjoying it.

Certainly, Russo & Steele are salesmen too. However their business is done in a low-key friendly manner, appreciated by the novice as well as the serious collector. This is one the their trademark distinctions. The Newport Beach auction in particular makes a great venue for those just getting interested in collecting cars given the variety and attitude of the staff.

It's a family affair with a '55 Buick. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

In the parking area I ran into a family of five all involved in detailing a 1955 Buick hardtop.  They were there to sell their car to provide a college fund and hoped to get $25,000 for the car.

1958 Packard Hawk. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

For the serious collector there were some rare and unusual cars to bid on including a 1958 Packard Hawk with a McCulloch Supercharger putting out 275 hp. This is the period when Studebaker and Packard merged to survive.  They only produced 588 so it’s unlikely you will see another this good. It sold for $95,000.

Nice fender-less '46 Chevy hot rod pick-up truck. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

The most unique custom had to be the 1946 Chevy 3100 pickup with an acrylic engine cover to show off its specular motor featuring a triple carb setup.

Chip Foose restored and reworked '60 Ford Starliner. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

'60 Foose Ford Starliner rear view with laid over fin elements. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

For star power car designer Chip Foose was in attendance. He brought his subtle and tastefully customized 1960 Starliner Coupe; the only missing element was the delightful AJ. Barry McGuire was in house and drawing a crowd wherever he went too. The auction also featured Burt Reynolds 1957 Thunderbird.

1957 Thunderbird once owned by actor Burt Reynolds - License "T BURTS" . Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

1961 Chrysler 300. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

Interior dashboard featured a push-button select automatic transmission (on left). Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

From the era of tailfins was a show winning 1961 Chrysler 300, with its space age dash and interior.

Ford Mustang fastback as seen in the '65 Shelby GT350H. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

1954 Corvette Custom sold for 159,500. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

A Shelby GT 350H fastback, one of the Hertz rent-a-racers sold for $137,500, while the 1962 Corvette Restomod brought $102,500 compared to the stock, 1962 Corvette Fuelie convertible registering $130,000.

1971 Maserati Ghibli. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

The 1971 Maserati 335 h.p. 4.9 liter V8 featured engine cowlings common on most cars produced today. Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

The European Luxury/Sport segment was well represented with a Mercedes Benz 280SE convertible bringing $380,000 and a 1957 Porsche 356T Cabriolet at $181,600.  Dino Ferrari 246’s continued to be hot with a 1972 246 GT coupe at $290,000 and 1973 246 GTS at $325,000.

Most unique in this field was a 1971 Maserati Ghibli, automatic reaching $226,660.

Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

In the European Sport/Racing class was a Jaguar XK-SS recreation in outstanding condition. The XK-SS is the street version of the 24Hours of Le Mans; three time winning Jaguar D-Types of the mid 1950’s. Regrettably only 16 were ever built, the factory burned in 1958 destroying the remainder.  About the only place you will ever see a real one is at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

This is the same car that Steve McQueen terrorized around Hollywood in. This British Racing Green XK-SS sold at $150,000, real ones sell in the millions.

Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

The auction was a outstanding success with sales over $7 million dollars. This represented a 71% increase over 2014 giving every indication of a strong collector car market and proper business model.

Russo & Steele promotional banner - Image Credit: James Groth (2015)

If this story raised your interest in collector cars then you will only have to wait until the third weekend in August for the Monterey, CA auction. To consign or register to bid check out their web site at and drive your portfolio…

TAGS: Russo & Steele, June 2015, Collector Car Auction Newport Beach, 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88, Porsche carrera GT 2005, Ford GT 2006, ZR-1 Corvette 1991, 1955 Buick, 1958 Packard Hawk, 1946 Custom Chevy Pickup, Chip Foose, 1960 Ford Starliner Coupe, Burt Reynolds, 1957 Thunderbird, 1961 Chrysler 300, Shelby GT 350 Hertz edition, 1954 Custom Corvette, 1971 Maserati Ghibli, Maserati Ghibli 4.9 liter motor Jaguar XK-SS, recreation

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