Ai interview Andrew Alcazar, President of Russo and Steele, LLC
The specialty auctioneers Russo and Steele LLC is one of the ‘Big Three’ in auto auctions in the United States. Specializing in European sports cars, American muscle cars, hot rods and customs, Russo and Steele was launched in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2001. Chief executive officer Drew Alcazar had vision of staging an exclusive, boutique-style auction that remains the only one of its type. To create and keep Russo and Steele in an exclusive format for car enthusiasts, only registered bidders, consignors and their guests are allowed onto the main auction block where the cars cross in a high energy arena, with dinner and cocktails being part of the experience.
The public is allowed through the outdoor staging areas with hundreds of cars are readying for their moment in the spotlight and certain areas inside the auction tent.
Russo and Steele has managed to keep costs and fees reasonable in order to maintain its base of loyal customers. Car sellers trust the company to give them their money quickly – and this continues to ensure that Russo and Steele’s auctions have high quality consignments. Similarly, buyers know that they are getting the best of collectible automobiles. “We’ve built our reputation on superior quality cars and the highest levels of customer service, so yes a majority of our clients are repeat customers. However, we have a healthy number of first time clients. Enthusiasts like the fact that we are an event built by enthusiasts for enthusiasts,” says Alcazar.
Russo and Steele holds two auctions a year – Scottsdale, Arizona in January and Monterey, California in August. The firm has numerous firsts to its credit. One innovation it developed is the “Auction in the Round” concept, which allows for a very interactive auction block that generates excitement with a sense of urgency and personal emotion that live auction events are all about.
Gearing up for the 11th annual Scottsdale auto auction in Arizona Russo and Steele has a spectacular line up ready to cross the block from a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda Convertible to a beautiful 1932 Packard 902 and everything in between. The Scottsdale auction will be held from January 19th to the 23rd, 2011. The opening night will see Russo and Steele throwing a charity gala where the proceeds will go to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Arizona. Every year, the opening night at Russo and Steele’s Scottsdale auction gets sold out with attendees including local companies, CEO’s and entrepreneurs.
Russo and Steele’s previous Scottsdale auction in January 2010, was hit by storms. Despite the obvious challenges, Russo and Steele was able to continue with its auction and setting records with the sale of a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarinia Series II for $875,000. “The incident at Scottsdale has actually shown us how much of a tight knit group collector car enthusiasts truly are. We’ve had overwhelming support from everyone,” said Andrew Alcazar, president of Russo and Steele, LLC.
The 11th Annual Scottsdale Auction Event will remain in Scottsdale, Arizona, but move to a new parcel of land to the east of its previous year’s location; the intersection of the Loop 101 Freeway and Hayden Road, in North Scottsdale. The new location – just to the east of the previous venue, offers significant advantages for weather proofing, drainage and the ability for Russo and Steele to install much needed site improvements such as asphalt top surfaces.
In addition to the new venue location and asphalt, this year’s event will feature a new Losberger main auction structure. Manufactured in Germany, this new structure will afford an “all encompassing environment” in which to hold all the event elements including the main auction block, vehicle staging, vendors, sponsors and all the amenities that Russo and Steele is uniquely known for.
Automotive Industries spoke to Andrew Alcazar, President of Russo and Steele, LLC.
AI: What are some of the highlights of the 11th edition of the Scottsdale auction?
Russo and Steele is ready to put the pedal to the metal, as we make the strongest statement in our 11+ year history. Russo and Steele is back; better than ever!”
We have twice as many cars currently consigned than ever before and we’ve doubled the number of registered bidders. This year’s Scottsdale auction event is definitely going to make a statement!
In addition, to the increased bidders and automobiles Russo and Steele Scottsdale 2011 will be filmed and aired on ESPN Classic network. ESPN Classic are currently going to be airing Scottsdale 2010 episodes and the documentary to over 40 million homes in this first quarter. Over and beyond Russo and Steele’s television series, the Scottsdale auction event will have a new event venue in North Scottsdale.
Some of the featured automobiles lined up to cross the block in Scottsdale this January 19-23rd are a one of the only 14 examples of a 1970 Hemi 'Cuda Convertible built and one of only 9 of these to have left the factory with an automatic transmission, and a 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 CSX1001 that was completed as a Semi Competition Cobra for Carroll Shelby by Shelby American (and the original owner of CSX1001 was indeed Carroll Shelby). In fact, we have so many high quality automobiles that I there isn’t enough room in your publication to do each of them justice! I will say though, that if you’re a collector automobile enthusiasts that you will love spending some time of the Russo and Steele website (www.russoandsteele.com) checking out the amazing automobiles that we will be offering in January.
AI: How did this year’s Monterey auction compare to previous years?
Monterey was a tremendous success. We doubled the number of automobiles offered; we had numerous world record sales, and doubled the number of bidders from previous years. Monterey was a clear indication that the collector car hobby is taking an upswing and the Russo and Steele Scottsdale this January will be off the charts!
AI: What is the market like for specialized auto auctions today in the US? How would you rate the global market for specialized automobiles?
The market is looking extremely positive for collectors demonstrated by the fact that we doubled the number of bidder’s that attended the auction from years past. Values of blue chip automobiles are staying at healthy levels and automobiles are still hitting record prices which all point to the fact that enthusiasts are continuing to buy collector automobiles.
The global market for specialized automobiles is growing at an exceptional rate. With new and improved internet capabilities enthusiasts from all over the world are able to participate in the auctions – no matter the location. Interest in absentee bidding and phone bidding has increased three fold (especially from our international clientele) proving that the passion behind collector automobiles is global.