Desert Storm: Russo & Steele regroups after hard hit

Ron Kowalke |

It’s awards season in the movie industry, and if the collector vehicle auction industry had awards to dole out for 2010, the “Best Comeback” honors would go to Russo and Steele Scottsdale.

The much-hyped 1948 Tucker convertible also received minor damage
to its driver’s side front fender. It was bid to $1,400,000, but declared
a no-sale on the block. As of presstime, Russo and Steele officials
and the Tucker’s current owner were negotiating with several bidders
to see if their offerings could be raised and the car sold.  

The rain, wind and snow storms that lashed Arizona during the week of Jan. 18-24, when five collector vehicle auctions were being held in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, were no Hollywood computer-graphic-generated magic. The heavy rains and sustained winds in excess of 50 mph took their toll on several tents at three of the auction sites, but most severely damaged was the Russo and Steele site, located at the intersection of Highway Loop 101 and Scottsdale Road.

Russo and Steele annually erects its Scottsdale auction compound on a portion of a 90-acre undeveloped landscape that is flat and wide open to the elements. When the winds kicked up on opening day of Jan. 21, the auction had to be stopped at approximately 6:15 p.m. local time and the auction arena evacuated. Several minutes after the evacuation was completed, the two 820-foot-long tents, under which the auction vehicles were staged for viewing, came apart from the force of the winds. Poles and shreds of the tent wreckage landed on several of the vehicles stored underneath, causing significant damage to some and minor dents and scratches to others. Parts of the shredded tents ended up landing on Loop 101, causing that highway to be shut down for a portion of the evening.

The accompanying photos show some of the damage suffered from cars stored under the tents. Russo and Steele managed to clean up the site and continue its auction on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 24-25. Many of the vehicles damaged in the storm were cleaned up for presentation and all storm damage was accounted for on the auction block, with many of the consignors offering to fix their cars and ship them free of charge to buyers.

In two instances while Old Cars Weekly was covering the sale on Jan. 24, the owners of damaged vehicles lifted the reserves. Proceeds from the sales of a 1970 Dodge Challenger and a modified Ford F150 pickup were donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Arizona and the Scottsdale Fire Department, respectively.



One of the more severe cases of damage was incurred by this modified
1940 Ford sedan delivery that had both of its fiberglass fenders broken.


The fastback styling of this DeTomaso Pantera got rearranged by a
falling tent pole.

While its driver’s side front fender received considerable damage from
the downed tent, this 1967 Pontiac GTO hardtop sold for $28,000.

Typical of most of the damaged cars, dents and/or broken glass
was localized such as the dented hood and broken windshield
on this 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 hardtop.

Members of both Arizona Wash Boys and Steve Lawrence Detailing
were busy prior to the Sunday continuation of the auction prepping
damaged cars, including this Porsche, for their time on the auction block.

MORE PHOTOS OF THE DAMAGE


 

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