×
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

More Scene

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger Makes First Post-Surgery Appearance at Rolling Stones Ballet Premiere

    Rock legend Mick Jagger made his first public appearance post-heart surgery on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the world premiere of the Rolling Stones ballet “Porte Rouge.” “I hope you are going to enjoy this wonderful new ballet, and, of course, the music,” the frontman declared in a pre-recorded message to the audience [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

  • Katy Perry, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna

    Katy Perry and Anita Hill Honored at the DVF Awards

    Katy Perry was among the honorees at the 10th Annual DVF Awards on Thursday night. The singer was recognized for her advocacy work with both UNICEF and the LGBTQ community. “Music has opened the doors for so many opportunities for me,” she said while accepting the inspiration award. “The ability to meet people and champion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content