For many people, the annual classic car auction week in Arizona presents a wonderful opportunity (1) to escape way-too-cold weather and (2) to buy or sell classic cars. But for many more people, the auctions are simply one of the biggest and best classic and exotic car shows on the planet.
For example, where else can you see not one, not two, but nine Mercedes-Benz 300SLs, including five with gull-wing doors?
Where else can you see 39 Ferraris, including a 1951 212 Export Berlinetta and a 1952 212 Inter Coupe, as well as four 250 GTs, one of them a California Spider?
Or three Model J Duesenbergs?
Or cars with bodywork by not only by Touring, Franay, Zagato, Scaglietti, Vignale, Bertone, Ghia, Murphy, LeBaron, Brewster, Mulliner, Gangloff, Chapron, Figoni et Falachi, Scaglietti and all the Farinas — Stablimenti, Pinin and Pininfarina — but by the Rippon Brothers and the Ringbrothers?
Or cars formerly or currently owned by the likes of Nick Cage, Gregory Peck, Ray Milland, Roy Rogers, John Dodge (that’s Dodge as in the car company), James Gandolfini, Winthrop Rockefeller, Richard Carpenter, Simon Cowell, Matthew Fox, Rudolph Valentino’s manager, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Carroll Shelby or even Dr. Jonas Salk?
You also can see (or even buy) the Testarossa used in Michael Jackson’s Bad Pepsi promo and the herringbone tweed jacket Steve McQueen wore in Bullitt.
There are a Bugatti that raced at Monaco in 1930, the Osca that won the Index of Performance at Sebring in 1960, one of Jim Hall’s 1966 Chaparral 1 racers, Shelby’s race-winning 1963 King Cobra racer, Donna Mae Mims’ pink H-Production national championship 1959 Austin-Healey Sprite, the “longtail” McLaren F1 GTR Global GT racer, a Sox & Martin A/FX Hemi ‘Cuda, the 1998 Ferrari F300 that Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine used for testing, and not only the Snake & Mongoose funny cars but the trucks that carried them to the drag strips.
And those numbers and those lists come only from perusing the thick, glossy, printed and heavy catalogs for the RM, Gooding & Co., Bonhams and Barrett-Jackson Salon Collection/Series 5000 portion of the Arizona auction week.
We have yet to click through Russo and Steele’s 409-page online catalog or the ginormous printed catalog for the rest of Barrett-Jackson’s 1400-car docket. And don’t forget that Mitch Silver will have an additional 350 or so vehicles out at Fort McDowell for your viewing (and even bidding) pleasure.
Nor do those numbers include the cars to be arrayed around the lawns at the Arizona Biltmore for the inaugural Arizona Concours d’Elegance that kicks off auction week on Sunday.