Russo and Steele Monterey 2012 – Auction Report

Russo and Steele, Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey, California, August 17-19, 2012

Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor

Russo and Steele finally completed its long-awaited move from the Marriott’s dark, low ceiling, loud, sweaty upstairs ballroom to a new location in a series of tents on Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf parking lot this year.

The cars got previewed in a parking lot where it didn’t requiring Braille to read the car cards and a pure white flashlight to figure out the colors as it did in prior years’ dank and cramped parking garages. The auction arena tent highlighted Russo and Steele’s ‘auction in the round’ format.

Crowds milling around, ringmen pointing skyward, left and right and the constant cacophony of the Russo and Steele arena set the sale’s signature frenzied atmosphere. It’s showmanship squared but the results, even without closing on Russo and Steele’s perennial headline Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet Series II (Drew seems to have an endless supply of them,) bumped up by enough to make this Russo and Steele’s best Monterey auction since 2006.

There was room for bidders to mill around the lineup cars without undertaking a multi-story climb from Calle Principal outside the Marriott to the ballroom to bid. Vendors lined the lineup corral.

But it’s inside the arena where the frenzy is in full throat. Steeply raked bleachers line the block. The lowest seats are above the roofs of the cars and the action, from disinterest to major league cajoling for the next bid, is clearly on view. It’s Auction Action 101, worth the attention of anyone new to the environment to see how it’s done by consummate professionals.

The block crew from Mecum was even spotted in the pit on Saturday evening after they’d finished their turn during the day. They’re auction junkies, too.

Results? Well, several of the headline cars fell short – probably a reflection of unreasonable expectations and a Monterey auction schedule long on lot numbers and short on cars that brought them to Russo and Steele with unrealistic sellers’ expectations – but many mediocre cars brought serious, sometimes even nonsensical, money.

Russo and Steele is an essential element in the Monterey experience. There is nothing else like it: theater in the round with cars and emotions at center stage.

And no small amount of money, too.

Russo & Steele Monterey
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
Chg from prior year
281 / 158
249 / 135
249 / 99

Ed Lenahan contributed not only time, effort and knowledge to these reports but also a fresh, young perspective, a new set of eyes, as it were, and a welcome point of view. Some cars reported here – the BMWs, for instance – are at Ed’s initiation.

Russo and Steele Monterey 2012 – Auction Report

1976 Triumph Spitfire Convertible
Lot # TH201 1976 Triumph Spitfire Convertible; S/N FM45532U0; White/Tan leather; Cosmetic restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $4,250 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $4,675 – Chrome wire wheels. New paint and interior. Solid chrome. Engine and mechanicals clean and orderly. Orange peel along passenger side. Solid Triumph. No reserve. This Triumph slipped through the cracks and sold for a bargain basement price. Flip it, store it, drive it. It’s hard to lose at this price.
1976 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Lot # TH205 1976 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible; S/N 1562109462; White, White vinyl top/Grey velour; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $6,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $7,150 – Chrome steel wheels and hubcaps, chrome rear fender guards. Heavy orange peel on passenger rear fender and door. Driver’s side door dented and chipped. Car card estimates between $15,000 and $20,000. A used car. No Reserve. Last sold at Russo & Steele Scottsdale 2012 for $8,525, this Bug was expensive then and it’s still expensive now. True, the miles are low. But the condition is questionable and the internet is crawling with earlier, nicer Bugs for similar money.
1967 Ford Mustang Notchback
Lot # TH208 1967 Ford Mustang Notchback; S/N 7R01S113555; Lime Gold, White vinyl roof/White vinyl; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $24,500 – 390ci V8, auto, GTA trim, A/C, tilt, wood grain steering wheel, grill-mounted driving lights. Decent repaint on an otherwise original car. Good chrome. Decent interior. Chassis dirty and largely untouched. Represented as numbers-matching engine. Not spectacular or rare, but a usable driver. Consignment # 2074. 1967 GTA S-code convertible Mustangs can earn more money than this high bid, but only after they’ve been restored. This bid is in line with a car of this condition and specification.
1965 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
Lot # TH218 1965 Ford Mustang GT Convertible; S/N 5F08A316806; Forest Green/Palomino vinyl; Palomino vinyl top; Recent restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $24,250 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $26,675 – 298/225hp, automatic, console, styled wheels, narrow whitewalls, A/C, JVC cassette stereo, fog lights, woodgrain steering wheel. Superficially restored with fair paint, scuffed bright trim and wheels, good interior, cracked steering wheel rim. Consignment #2179. A marginal Mustang convertible bought for a price that over-values its condition despite the car card’s claim of ‘a COMPLETE concourse restoration.’
1970 Rover Mini Cooper
Lot # TH235 1970 Rover Mini Cooper 2-Dr. Sedan; S/N MA2S65664805A; Dark Blue, White roof/Black vinyl; Estimate $20,000 – $30,000; Modified restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $13,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $14,300 – Mountney woodrim steering wheel, billet interior handles, Panasonic CD stereo, wood dashboard, 8-spoke Performance alloy wheels, Yokohama A533 radials, halogen headlights, four halogen driving lights. Good paint and interior. No Reserve. Consignment #2212. A sound and usable boy racer Mini bought for a modest but not bargain price. A good value.
1955 Dodge C-3-BB Pickup
Lot # TH238 1955 Dodge C-3-BB Pickup; S/N 84272880; Banner Green/Grey leatherette; Estimate $25,000 – $35,000; Truck restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $10,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $11,550 – 259/169hp V-8, heater, bed-mounted sidemount, black wheels, cream hubcaps, oak bed floor, wraparound rear window, high side, long bed body. Modified with VDO gauges and a 12 volt alternator. Restored nearly like new with very good paint and interior. Chassis isn’t to the same standard, but is better than most pickups. An unusual driver-quality pickup. No Reserve. Consignment #2155. Even with the V-8 this isn’t a particularly desirable pickup, a judgment reflected in the price it brought, it is a good value for someone looking for a distinctive weekend errand runner.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 RS Coupe
Lot # TH243 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 RS Coupe; S/N 124379L507141; Cortez Silver/Black vinyl; Unrestored original, 4 condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $28,500 – M-21 4-speed, Positraction, chambered exhaust, stripe delete, console, Endura front bumper. Underhood grimy but complete, paint cracked and chipped down to primer throughout, dent on passenger door, driver’s door scuffed and dented. Some rust on lower edges of front fenders and doors. A survivor from a distance, a solid project car up close. Consignment # 2041. “Survivor” is quickly replacing “barn find” as the most overused phrase in the automotive lexicon. This car was billed as a survivor and had, in fact, survived the last 43 years. It just hadn’t survived them well and won’t live to see many more unless someone restores it. Considering the restoration costs, the high bid should have been enough to move it on to someone who cares and has the resources to see the project through.
1994 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
Lot # TH247 1994 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible; S/N 1G1YY32P4R5118939; Red/Red leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $40,000 – $50,000; Original, with non-original appearance items, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $22,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $24,750 – Two tops, Ronal 18, 19 inch modular wheels, 6-speed, new Michelin Pilot Sport tires, Callaway Aerobody, Lingenfelter 383 engine, two tops, sport seats, FX-3 suspension, A/C, SSBC brakes. A well-maintained, low mileage driver’s car. Not like new but nearly so and represented as having only 13,500 miles from new with four owners. No Reserve Consignment #2046. This is really more of a Lingenfelter Corvette with an Aerobody. This price is less than the cost of the Lingenfelter 383 or the Aerobody individually. The car’s mixed origins severely hamper its collectibility, but do nothing to detract from it as a great driver’s car. The new owner paid a market price, but after a few miles is going to appreciate its performance, handling and style.
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Roadster
Lot # TH249 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Roadster; S/N 11304412015396; Dark Purple/Brown Vinyl; Recent restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $40,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $44,000 – Auto, chrome steel wheels with color matched hubcaps, hardtop., modern stereo. Well maintained from new with complete records and excellent condition throughout. Seating surfaces show strange grain pattern but are original. Nice car. With “Pagoda” Mercedes gaining in value, this clean and well appointed 280SL is a good value at this price.

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  1. Rick thanks once again, for a really interesting and detailed report on an auction. Please keep ’em coming, they actually broaden my knowledge considerably.