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It's that time of year when serious car collectors and enthusiast from around the world make the trek to Scottsdale, Arizona, where a half dozen auctions this week will sell nearly $200 million of old (and a few new) cars. Of course, the draw of the Arizona climate this time of year is pretty strong on its own. Mix in about three thousand collector cars for sale and the who's who of the hobby all show up to buy, sell or just see and be seen.

Of course, the eight hundred pound gorilla in this week's auction mania is Barrett-Jackson. Over fifteen hundred cars of all shapes and sizes and all at no reserve. It has become a media phenomenon with almost non-stop coverage on the Speed Channel starting on Tuesday, January 18. I've been there several times and, trust me, it's not all glitter. Having said that, I admit that watching it on tv when I can't be Scottsdale is a guilty pleasure, but please don't tell anyone. Check out this year's offerings at www.barrett-jackson.com .

The RM Auction, www.rmauctions.com , is always an enjoyable event. Held at the historic, Frank Lloyd Wright designed Biltmore, it has to be the finest setting for any antique auto auction in the world. The RM folks know how to put on a great event and always have an excellent array of great cars, focusing heavily on great American Classics and high-end European sports cars of the fifties and sixties.

In just its third year in Scottsdale, the Gooding Auction held at Fashion Square has become my absolute favorite. David Gooding (his father used to be the director of the Crawford Auto/Aviation Museum in Cleveland) has the magic touch in attracting the most interesting cars of all eras from around the world. His organization has also shown great dedication to providing first class customer service. You owe it to yourself to review this year's consignments at www.goodingco.com .

Last year, the Russo and Steele Auction made the national news for the wrong reason. The first night of the auction, an unprecedented storm blew through Scottsdale and toppled many of their tents damaging or destroying several hundred of the consigned cars in the process. Through heroic efforts and amazing reaction by the organizers, safety forces and collector car insurance companies, the show went on a few days later and just about everyone with a damaged vehicle was made whole. An R&S Auction has a trademark theatrical style and their bread and butter has been high end muscle cars, with a reserve on just about all consigned vehicles. Their inventory can be seen at www.russoandsteele.com .

The Silver and Motoexotica auctions offer lower end, more accessible collector cars on the whole. Although the vehicles are generally not as exciting, great buys can be had without spending all of the kids' tuition fund. They can be found at www.silverauctions.com and www.motoexotica.com .

Once you've had a chance to look at these sites, I challenge you to find the car you would like to have  more than any other. At this moment, mine would be the all original Fiat 8V Supersonica by Ghia at the Gooding auction. I had the opportunity to see this car in person over the summer and meet the couple that have owned it since 1956! The projected purchase price is between $1.1 and 1.4 million, so, I'm not a buyer but I can still dream. What's your dream car in Scottsdale this weekend?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Prasino Spiti January 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Thanks for a great blog Steven! I, too, have been to the auctions in Scottsdale and unfortunately I am unable to attend this year. I usually like to go just to "be seen"! If I could choose my pick from this year's offerings…of course it's difficult to just choose one… it would have to be the Pinin Farina bodied 1956 Nash Rambler "Palm Beach" Coupe Speciale…offered by Gooding. I just love the shape & the color ~ now all I need is a sugar daddy!

autosaurus January 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Well, I'm currently in Arizona for the auctions. I visited Barret-Jackson yesterday and was not impressed with the offerings. Many of the cars look like they belong at the Akron Auto Auction. Their gallery of vendors reminds me of a carnival midway. If you like the WWF, you'll love Barrett-Jackson. Today I head for the Gooding and RM auctions. Having read their catalogs I know I will at least see some automobiles that I'd like to have in my garage. This year, Gooding has the edge in better offerings. I'm sure the guys with deep pockets will continue to overpay for a few cars. Quality and provenance are the keys to getting maximum bids. Let's see what happens.

Kay January 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Can't say I saw anything that I "had to have". But, I am curious, experts at Car Chase, does $150,700 seem acceptable for a 1967 Nova?

Steven S. Brooks January 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm

@Kay: Thanks for your comment. My answer to your question about the '67 Nova would be "It depends"! There isn't a Nova in the world that I would pay that kind of money for. Having said that, there are cars in my garage which I absolutely love that others have told me they wouldn't give a nickel for. At that place and at that time, that certain 1967 Nova was worth $150,700 to someone with the ability to bid. In the auction world, that's all that matters.

Bob March 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I'm with Kay, I don't care how perfect it is, a 1967 Nova should not be worth $150,000. I don't care if it was taken from the assembly line and sealed into a bubble filled with nitrogen for the last 43 years, it still would not be worth $150,000.

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