Arizona expands collector car auction footprint with new sales, major changes

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Drew Alcazar (right) officiates during a Russo and Steel auction | Larry Edsall

Arizona upped its game once again during 2019 as collector car auction capital of the universe. Mecum Auctions made its first visit to the Valley of the Sun with a sale in March, and for 2020 Arizona Auction Week will expand to comprise 8 auction venues.

The 8 collector car sales set for January are the most held anywhere in one place at one time, with the Scottsdale/Phoenix area hosting a swarm of auction companies from around the country (including two based in Scottsdale), bringing thousands of classic cars, trucks, motorcycles and memorabilia to compete for attention and bidders.

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Bidding at Leake’s Oklahoma City auction | Larry Edsall

The latest entry is Leake Auctions, which announced in June that it would hold its inaugural Arizona event January 15-19 at Salt River Fields, a sports complex on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community adjacent to Scottsdale. 

Leake’s site is fraught with controversy as it was the venue where Scottsdale-based auctioneer Russo and Steele held its sale for the past two years.  Russo and Steele has sued Leake, its owner Ritchie Brothers and several individuals over the ouster, contending a conspiracy to spoil the company’s reputation and to get it booted from the facility.

The plaintiffs have countersued, alleging that the claims are without merit.  The suits are pending.

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MAG auctions a classic at its Reno sale | Hot August Nights

Russo and Steele moves back to its former location at Scottsdale Road and Loop 101 for its sale January 15-19.  The auction celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Meanwhile, Silver Auctions Arizona merged with the Motorsports Auction Group to conduct its annual auction in Peoria, just northwest of Phoenix. MAG, which was created just 3 years ago to hold collector car auctions in Reno, Nevada, during Hot August Nights, will open auction week with its sale held January 10-12. 

Also during Arizona Auction Week 2020, Worldwide Auctioneers will hold its sale at a new venue, Singh Meadows, located on Scottsdale’s southern border with Tempe, the company recently announced.  That auction takes place on January 15.

Part of Worldwide’s docket at the 2019 Scottsdale auction | Bob Golfen

Still dominating Arizona Auction Week is the massive Barrett-Jackson auction, marking its 49th anniversary in January.  Other auctions held during the week, besides those mentioned, are RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Company and Bonhams.

One major auction company notably absent from January’s Arizona gaggle is Mecum Auctions.  That’s because Mecum holds its biggest event of the year just one week before in Kissimmee, Florida, so it has had to pass on joining auction week in Arizona. 

Mecum’s remedy for that took place in March, when the Wisconsin-based auction company cut out its own Arizona auction time with a large and well-attended sale at Glendale’s State Farm Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals hold their NFL home games.  

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Dana Mecum during the sale of a 1965 Corvette in Glendale | Bob Golfen

The auction, originally planned as a 2-day event, expanded to 4 days because of the huge response from consigners eager to get their cars on the docket.  The sale grew to 1,300 vehicles and scored a total of more than $39 million, the most ever for a first-time Mecum auction.  The company says it will return for March 2020, and possibly expand to 5 days of auctioneering.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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