The cars are cool but what I really like best about Russo and Steele’s Scottsdale auction this year is the new venue. After several years in what otherwise was a rough, open field near the intersection of Scottsdale Road and the Loop 101 freeway, the auction this year has moved to its new home, the northwest corner of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
In just a few weeks, the baseball diamonds that are part of the complex will be the spring training home to the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. But this January, and for more Januarys to come, much of the grounds of the state-of-the-art professional sports facility will be home to Russo and Steele’s Scottsdale auction.
Along with the move comes much better access, nicer parking areas, and more room for displays, venders and for the tents that cover the cars on the docket and for the tent that houses auction block itself.
And this is just the start, promised auction head Drew Alcazar, who already is making expansion plans for 2018 and beyond.
But collector car auctions are about the cars, so here are some that I saw Friday that would fit my needs, which tend toward cars you can drive and enjoy and show locally:
2004 Ford GT (CP-1) I wrote a book about the design and development earlier this century of the Ford GT that was done to celebrate the automaker’s centennial. This car, wearing VIN0004 and nose number 5406, was the first running prototype and therefore a car of historical significance. Because so many of the technologies in the car were so new, even to Ford engineer test drivers, hand-written in Sharpie on the car’s aluminum center console is “Push Red Button To Start Veh.” with an arrow pointing at the red button.
1958 Alfa Guilietta “The Italians answer to the Porsche Speedster,” reads the sign board with this bright yellow roadster. This car underwent a two-year restoration at California Dream Cars.
1959 Tojeiro California Spyder John Tojeiro was an aviation engineer who started designing lightweight racing cars after World War II. His work included a chassis for AC Cars that eventually found its way into Carroll Shelby’s hands. He also did a Jaguar for Ecurie Ecosse to race at Le Mans. This is his California Spyder, with a tube-frame structure and bodywork that only recently was completed and installed. It is consigned by Tojeiro’s son, Robin.
1955 Pontiac Star Chief convertible This car is named Lucy in tribute to the cross-country episodes of the I Love Lucy television show. It has been restored, and its engine enlarged from 270 cid to 348 and pumping out 300 horsepower. For better highway drivability, a 200R4 gearbox was installed. The interior was redone by a retiree who specialized in custom interiors for private aircraft. Oh, and the original engine and transmission are available in case the new buyer wants to return the car to stock configuration.
1965 Ford Mustang This veteran of SCCA GT-1 racing and former winner of the Texas Mile has been converted to be street legal, but while retaining all of its racy looks. What fun!
1955 Studebaker Commander Regal coupe After a frame-off restoration, this mid-’50s coupe has front disc brakes, factory power steering, stainless dual exhaust, 12-volt electrics, an Edlebrock 4-barrel carb with an electric fuel pump, and it rides on Coker tires. But it only has been driven 5,500 miles since the restoration.
1953 Cadillac Deville coupe This is a driver-level car that still carries its original 331-cid V8 and Hydra-Matic transmission. It would be head-turning as it cruised around town or down the highway.
1958 Cadillac Series 62 Well, this is different: The car has been converted to a two-seat roadster with cut-down doors with leather padding that matches the revamped interior.
1972 Ford Ranchero Squire This just looks like fun, especially with a 351 Cleveland V8 under the hood
1949 Fiat Topolino Bummer. This fun little car already had been sold by the time I strolled through the tents where the cars were sheltered from a wet week in what usually is the Valley of the Sun.
1952 Ford F100 custom pickup OK, I’m not including this pickup for myself. But Wayne Carini, long-time restoration specialist and star of television’s Chasing Classic Cars, fell in love with this vehicle, which has been driven only 3,000 miles since a customization that included the installation of a 1950s vintage Chrysler Hemi V8.