HomeThe MarketFor RM, Manhattan momentum means heightened anticipation for Arizona auction

For RM, Manhattan momentum means heightened anticipation for Arizona auction


1958 Ferrari California Spider photo by Patrick Emzen | Provided by RM Auctions

Another in a series of previews of classic car auctions in January.

As if it wasn’t enough to do nearly $63 million in business in little more than two hours, it turns out there was a bonus dividend for RM Auctions in the aftermath of its Art of the Automobile auction in conjunction with Sotheby’s in November in New York City.

“It used to be harder to sell the client on ‘let me sell your car at Arizona or Amelia Island’,” said Ian Kelleher, a veteran car specialist at RM.

It seems most everyone wanted their cars included in RM’s big summer auction at Pebble Beach. But then along came the new New York auction, which drew a lot of attention — from consignors, from the media, and from people, especially younger people, who previously may not have considered classic cars as art to be purchased and even cherished.

And because the New York auction was taking place in a limited space, there was room for only 31 vehicles. However, RM could offer those that didn’t fit in Manhattan a slot at upcoming auctions in Arizona and Florida.

Kelleher also said the New York auction introduced young art collectors to the joy of classic cars.

“It’s become something people want to get involved in, even if it is just for one of two cars,” he said, adding that such newcomers “see something and love it and that’s what they want.

“They want to be able to enjoy their car,” he added, explaining that such newcomers are very good news, especially for people selling cars for less than a quarter of a million dollars.

“They see a Porsche GS GT Speedster and the see a standard-engine 1600,” Kelleher said. “To them, it doesn’t really matter if they have the four-cam variant as it does to have the same style. People are buying style and design. This is a very visual world and a very visual hobby.”

Such cars, he added, “represent accessibility to a world that is difficult to jump right in. People are driven to things that will allow them inclusion in collector car respectability” without having to spend seven figures until they have enough experience that their tastes mature and they realize the importance of that four-cam car.

1930 Duesenberg ‘Disappearing Top’ photo by Dari Schnabel | Courtesy RM Auctions

RM returns to a two-day format — Thursday the 16th and Friday the 17th — for its Arizona auction, which again will be held at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix.

The Arizona auction begins a new year for RM, which enjoyed a phenomenal 2013 during which the RM group, which includes RM Auctions, RM Restoration and Auctions America, did $442 million in sales and had a car emerge from its restoration shop to win best-in-show at Pebble B each for an unprecedented fifth time. Total sales marked a 20-percent boost over 2012 figures.

To start 2014, the catalog for RM’s 15th Arizona auction includes more than 120 vehicles. Among them:

  • a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider (one of 50 built);
  • a 1930 Duesenberg Model J “Disappearing Top” convertible coupe known as Melvin’s Murphy in honor of Walter P. Murphy Coachbuilders, the Pasadena company that created the bodywork, and Melvin Clemans, who owned the car for more than 50 years;
  • a 1929 Bentley 4 1/2-liter tourer;
  • the 1953 Siata 208S Spyder known as the Siata-Ford;
  • the 1935 Hispano-Suiza J12 Cabriolet de Ville with bodywork by the Rippon brothers;
  • a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL gullwing coupe;
  • a 1964 Ferrari 250 GT/L Lusso;
  • the 1937 Bugatti Type 57C Ventoux that won Elegance in Motion honors at Pebble Beach in 1998;
  • one of two 1961 Chaparral 1 race cars, this one formerly owned by Skip Barber

Kelleher said the catalog also includes a variety of “entry-level collector cars people can get in and drive and enjoy very easily.”

1961 Chaparral 1 photo courtesy RM Auctions

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Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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