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Automotive Industries caught up again with Andrew Alcazar, president of Russo & Steele LLC

Russo & Steele LLC will be celebrating its 10th Monterey Sports & Muscle auction this year between August 12th and 14th. Billed as the ultimate automobile collector’s auction, the annual Monterey Sports & Muscle is held in Monterey, California every August. Following tradition, you can catch a glimpse of the auction cars in their natural habitat while they parade down the street in front of the Monterey Marriott Hotel prior to crossing the auction block. The entire block in front of the hotel will be closed and two lines of cars will be staged.

The Russo & Steele Sports and Muscle in Monterey includes four world class Concours shows, almost a week of vintage races, five auctions – which grossed over USD 134 million last year. Plus there are driving events, product introductions and marquee club functions. Last year’s Monterey event saw the introduction of a live online auction webcast, which will be a feature at this year’s auction as well. “Our clients and enthusiast’s have proven their passions for this hobby. We have continually stated that for enthusiasts by enthusiasts is not just a tag line, but a lifestyle for us and the webcam allowed us to open up our highly unique and exciting auction to fellow enthusiasts that were not able to make it to the event,” said Andrew Alcazar, president of Russo & Steele, after the 2009 Monterey event.

He added: “The quality of collector automobiles in this year’s (2009) Monterey auction event continued to earn the praise from both the media and our international clientele that were perusing the inventory all week in Monterey. The marketplace in Monterey performed as we anticipated. We intentionally selected automobiles within the range of USD100,000 to USD 500,000 to better serve the projected market place. Without a doubt, the market continues to show strength for extremely desirable and well-documented examples; Dr. Porsche’s 1961 356 Carrera 2/2000 GS, the 1939 Alvis Speed 25 Tourer, and the 1964 Shelby Cobra CSX 2492 among many others are clear evidence of this.”

Russo & Steele Collector Automobile Auctions was launched in 2001 by Andrew and Josephine Alcazar. The Arizona-based firm specializes in European sports cars, American muscle cars, hot rods and customs. The company decided to focus on boutique auctions in order to focus on genuine car enthusiasts. Says Alcazar: “Keeping our sales small and intimate allow the enthusiasts to be at the center of the event. It is difficult to have any car, no mater how nice, rise above a sea of over 1,000 plus cars. From a buyer’s perspective, getting asked to move as someone takes a picture to hang on their wall or be run over by a baby stroller when one is inspecting a potential purchase compromises the integrity of the auction. Also, buyers can be easily desensitized by hundreds of venders, fashion shows, general public mayhem and other activities that simply do not lend themselves to the collector car auction experience.”

Russo & 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 moneys quickly – and this continues to ensure that Russo & Steele’s auctions have high quality consignments. Similarly, buyers know that they are getting the best of collectible automobiles.

Automotive Industries spoke to Andrew Alcazar, president of Russo & Steele LLC.

AI: What are some of the events you are planning for the 10th anniversary of the Monterey Sports and Muscle show?

We’re expanding to three nights of auction. With the overwhelming demand Russo and Steele is able to have two momentous milestones in one year; the 10th anniversary and expanding to three nights.

AI: Looking back at the 10 years of the event, what do you think ensured that Monterey is a must for car buffs?

First, location… Monterey is a beautiful city that has a rich traditional in classic automobiles from racing to world-class concours d’elegances.
Second, synergy… this particular week in August in Monterey has more events per capita for a collector car enthusiast to enjoy than any other place in the world. In fact, so many events take place that depending on what you want to participate in your week could technically be a week and a half; with some racing events starting August 7th.

AI: What kind of participation do you expect this year? What are some of the cars we can expect to see?

This year is going to be record breaking. Bidder registration is up 25% already and like I said before we’ve had such amazing demand from consignors from around the world that we are able to expand to three nights of auction.

This year we have everything from an award winning 1933 Auburn Salon to an all-original, numbers matching 1965 Shelby Cobra CSX2461. In addition, we have a very unique, amazingly restored 1956 Nash Ambassador to an exquisite 1966 Lamborghini 350GT. To be honest, we have one of the best line-ups we’ve ever had and there are too many to mention. I invite everyone to take a look at our website; we have featured automobiles up now, but when we get closer to the event all the automobiles will be up online.

AI: What percentage of your buyers at auctions in Monterey and Scottsdale are repeat customers?

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.

AI: How have your China operations fared? What kind of reaction has Russo & Steele received there?

Our China operations are moving along amazingly and we couldn’t have asked for a better reaction.

AI: What was the impact of the disaster at your Scottsdale, Arizona event earlier this year?

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.

We did filing a suit against Tri-Rentals, Inc. citing negligence; gross negligence; breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing. Tri-Rentals, Inc. was the tent and rental company responsible for the construction and maintenance of Russo and Steele’s entire auction site. It was under the consultation of Tri-Rentals, we took every precaution to ensure that the attendees and assets of the auction were safe during the scheduled event that took place this past January 2010. Tri-Rentals advised us that they were reinforcing the tents, and assured us that the site was secure. Over the past 10 years we have become well respected and established in the collector car community, and work diligently year-round to provide superior customer service to our clients; with that in mind we want to resolve any issues, make our customers and ourselves whole, and focus on getting back to business.

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