Monday, June 24, 2013

Auction Action Returns to the Beach with Russo and Steele

A very beautiful 1953 Packard 'woody' station wagon ... note that the wood is also on the inside door panels, goes up for a change in ownership at the action held in Newport Beach by Russo and Steele. Image Credit: James Groth (2013)

Auction Action Returns to the Beach
Russo and Steele Newport Beach, CA June 20-22, 2013
By: James Groth

Newport Beach has always been about lifestyle and money so even a car auction must be upscale to measure up in this town. Russo and Steele choose Newport Dunes as the site for its inaugural collector automobile auction. Having the auction on the water and across from the Hyatt Newport Beach Resort was an ideal choice.

 Image Credit: James Groth (2013)

They opened with a preview charity event for perhaps Orange County’s favorite charity, CHOC Children’s. Saturday morning started with a Classic Car Seminar by classic car insurance specialist’s Hagerty entitled, “Valuation and Vehicles Trends,” for serious collectors and those looking to learn. Russo and Steele provided a pocket guide on the cars. It’s ideal for carrying around and gives you all you need unless you require a coffee table book for your home.

The auction was as advertised, something for all types of collectors from hot rods, customs, and muscle cars to a Mercedes SLR McLaren to a Bugatti Veyron. There were some rarities too in particular a 1952 Tojejro Bachetta sports racer.

1952 Tojeiro Barchetta Sports Racer

2008 Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4

1951 Mercury coupe with 'skirts' and a 'chopped' top ... nicely sculpted
Image Credit: James Groth (2013)

The most unusual had to be the 1932 Ford SPCON Phaeton 1000 hp convertible that featured a Rolls Royce V-12. This is the same motor used in the British WW ll Spitfire fighter plane. I had the opportunity to fly a two seat Spitfire over the Pacific out of Santa Monica at the 60 Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. That unforgettable experience of power makes me wonder how you can drive this car, with the addition of a blower, on anything other than the drag strip. However, that may be thrilling enough for the owner along with the uniqueness of the car.

1932 Ford SPCON Phaeton

Rolls Royce V-12
Image Credit: James Groth (2013)

I recall when Rick Cole held auctions here twenty years ago. I sold my recently restored Jaguar Series lll V-12 convertible with them and they worked me harder than the buyers. I like what I saw today compared to my experience; the staff was warm, friendly and professional. I for one enjoyed that the sales staff does not go into hysterics by screaming after each sale. Russo and Steele events are more professional and better suited for Newport.

1954 Jaguar XK120 Roadster

1957 Chrysler Imperial Coupe highlighted by Deep Glossy Red PPG Concept paint
Image Credit: James Groth (2013)

The crowd on Saturday while not massive was good for an opening event given all the options that the Newport Beach area offers. As you can see in the photos the event also drew the non-collectors, families and lovely single ladies. I spoke with many of them and they were either just curious or out for an enjoyable day in a great setting. With General admission at $20, not much more than a movie ticket and certainly more entertaining the event delivered as did the comfortable weather.

1958 coral and white 2-tone Chevrolet Bel Air with 'Continental Kit' spare tire

“The “Bubbletop” a 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS Sport Coupe is one of 453 Super Sports built for the year

1971 Dodge Charger R/T Coupe with 426 Hemi Shaker Hood

1939 Willys Coupe All Steel powered by a blown Chrysler 392 Hemi V-8 with computer-controlled Hilborn fuel injection

Classic 1963 VW Bus featuring 23 windows, cloth sunroof, with vintage factory aluminum and wood roof rack
Image Credit: James Groth (2013)

As of this writing the sale prices have not been posted, they will be available at:

I for one will be curious to see them since some of the bidding was hard to understand. A 1969 Orange 911 S at $110,000 seemed strong to me, while a “one-off” 1953 Packard Woody Station Wagon in top restored condition (featured above) struggled to reach $50,000.

A very classic 1969 911S Porsche ... a mark that is celebrating its 50th year
Image Credit: James Groth (2013)

I say welcome to Newport and hope Russo and Steele returns. Their next auction will be in Monterey, CA August 15-17th.
(posted by The EDJE)

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