×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bid fast, bid hard

Buyers pay top dollar for one-of-a-kind rides

The Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. Is nothing but babes, big-block engines — and million-dollar credit lines.

Last month’s event saw the sale of 1,100 cars in six days. These ranged from the 1960 Lincoln Mark V limo once owned by Elvis ($556,200) to the oldest Corvette in existence, a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette “003” ($1 million). However, the highest bid had no celebrity cachet. A 1950 GM Futurliner went for $4.3 million.

What bidders most want is the ride no one else has. That’s also a driving force behind eBay’s auto auction, but real-world auctioneer Drew Alcazar says it has all the charm of online banking.

“The rush and visceral connection can’t exist on computer screen,” he says.

Alcazar owns Russo & Steele, which holds auctions twice a year in Scottsdale and Monterey.

Even at the best auctions, ringers occasionally slip through with doctored VIN numbers and suspect paperwork. Verify casting numbers, look for original documents like window stickers, and get the scoop directly from the sellers. If still in doubt, hire one of the auction house’s on-site car experts. Says collector Terry Thompson, “These are the most expensive toys you’ll ever own.”

Every auction house has its own brand of style. Variety Weekend looks at three popular places to make a bid.

Barrett-Jackson
Barrett-jackson.com
The Big Picture: Brassy and boisterous, it’s the big daddy of car auctions with 225,000 attendees and collector-quality pre-war cars, classic muscle cars, hot rods and vintage buses.
On the Block: The first 2007 GT 500 Fastback sold to the public ($648,000); 1952 Chrysler D’Elegance ($1.2 million); and a 1936 Ford Custom Convertible street rod ($95,040)
Rules of the Road: $300 registration fee and letters of credit required to buy. Buyers and sellers split a 16% commission; no reserves (minimum bids) allowed.
Insider’s Shortcuts: With more than 1,000 cars on the block, you may have to wait through pre-war cars and motorcycles before you can make your bid. For the lowdown on your favorites, go to the staging area for a pre-bid chat with sellers.
When and where: March 29-April 1, Palm Beach; next January in Scottsdale.

Russo & Steele
Russoandsteele.com
The Big Picture: A garden party for the gearbox set. The auction tent is buyers only; organizers turn away 20% of potential sellers. Inventory of about 400 European sports cars, American muscle cars, hot rods and customs. Sales topped $20 million at this January’s auction, doubling last year’s figures.
On the Block: American rides like a 1967 Shelby 427 Cobra ($605,000) and a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda ($715,000). European highlight: 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC ($195,800).
Rules of the Road: $75 registration fee and letters of credit required to buy. Sellers pay a “no reserve” fee of $600; with reserve, $800-$1000. Commissions are paid by sellers: 10% for “reserve” sales, 5% with no reserve.
Insider’s Shortcuts: Lacks the sheer volume of Barrett-Jackson, but the smaller size means better access to organizers, fewer gawkers and less time waiting for your desired auction lot.
When and where: August 19-20, Monterey; next January in Scottsdale.

eBay
The Big Picture: Outside of some sellers’ florid car descriptions, there’s not a lot of fun here. However, an eBay spokesperson says the site sells one car every minute, 24/7, with 10 million unique visitors every month.
On the Block: Everything from clunkers to cherry rides like a 1970 Hemi ‘Cuda ($1 million). But no booth babes.
Rules of the Road: Sellers pay $40 to list a vehicle and a $40 “successful transaction fee” after a reserve is met.
Insiders’ shortcuts: The “Best Offer” option includes $20,000 vehicle purchase protection. More security with paid services like Experian’s Auto Check vehicle history reports and inspections by third parties.
When and where: Anytime on eBay.com

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I'm Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content