January is a huge month for classic car auctions–it’s the hugest, in fact. In terms of pure car count, the two biggest auction events of the year – Kissimmee and Scottsdale – take place during the first month of the year. But while Mecum’s gargantuan Kissimmee sale has mostly gone ahead as planned and even posted record numbers in both 2021 and 2022, Scottsdale’s Auction Week is a different story.
January 2021 saw auction houses both big and small wrangling with COVID-related complexities; the eight auction companies with Scottsdale sales on their 2021 calendars either went online, postponed the sale, or canceled everything altogether. For 2022, most return for Arizona auction week at their usual times and usual places, but with COVID rearing its ugly and aggressively contagious head once again, things still look a bit different. Here’s a rundown of what’s going on, and what isn’t.
The biggest missing piece in Scottsdale’s schedule this year will be Russo and Steele, which is nixing its usual four-day sale of American muscle, European sports cars, and other classics that often fall on the more affordable end of the scale. Leake Auctions, which made its debut at the last normal Scottsdale we had in 2020, also won’t be returning. In 2020, these companies sold $8M and $16.6M worth of vehicles, respectively.
There will be about a third fewer lots at Scottsdale this year compared to 2020; expect a spread-out showfield of roughly 2,200 vehicles this year versus nearly 3,300 just two years ago. While the absence of Russo and Steele and Leake makes a big part of the difference, the catalogue auctions (RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Company, and Bonhams) have about 40 percent fewer consignments than they did in 2020.
Gooding & Company Moves Online
Although Gooding will have vehicles available for in-person viewing at the swanky Scottsdale Hangar One event space, the auction itself will take place entirely online via Gooding’s “Geared Online” platform. Bidding opens on Monday, January 24 and runs until Friday, January 28. High-dollar highlights include a Touring-bodied 1961 Maserati 5000 GT and a 1964 Porsche 356 C Carrera 2 Coupe.
RM Sotheby’s Moves to a One-Day Sale
RM Sotheby’s typically has enough vehicles to fill a two-day sale at its Arizona auction, but 2022 will be a one-day affair. The sale will start at 5:00pm on Thursday, January 27 at its traditional location – the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.
Despite the shrinkage, some of the week’s biggest cars will be crossing the block at RM, including a Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider (estimate: $2.4M-$2.8M), a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster (estimate: $2.75M-$3.25M), and an alloy-bodied 300 SL Gullwing (estimate: $7M-$9M).
Worldwide Auctioneers Goes All-In on Pre-War Cars
Worldwide first joined the Scottsdale frenzy in 2017, and has since become a part of the Arizona auction tradition, despite last year’s Worldwide “Scottsdale” auction actually taking place at the company’s headquarters in Auburn, Indiana.
Fortunately, Worldwide will return this year to Singh Meadows in Tempe for a one-day auction on Wednesday, January 26 at 5:00pm. It will be the first sale of the week that isn’t Barrett-Jackson. Over half of Worldwide’s catalog is made up of pre-war cars, including a 1930 Stutz Blackhawk Roadster, a 1935 Delahaye 135 M Competition Drophead Coupe, and a 1929 Duesenberg Model J Berline. A huge group of 1930s Fords from the Ron Thorne collection is also worth keeping an eye on.
Bonhams Returns for its 11th Year in Scottsdale
Last January, Bonhams previewed a selection of collector cars at Scottsdale’s Westin Kierland, but the auction itself was a live/online hybrid with significantly fewer consignments than we saw in 2020.
Things look more normal for 2022 with a traditional in-person sale at the aforementioned Westin Kierland, and Bonhams’ usual mix of pre-war, European luxury, and sports cars on offer. Among the most significant are a 1962 Aston Martin DB4, a flat-floor Jaguar E-Type Roadster, and a barn-find 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300S Roadster.
MAG is the Place to Buy on a Budget
What used to be the Silver auction in Scottsdale is now run by MAG (Motorsports Auction Group), and this year’s sale will take place at the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort northeast of Scottsdale between January 28-30.
More than any other auction in Arizona this year, this will be the place to find a cheap-ish collector car. MAG’s first time in Scottsdale was in 2020, and of the 98 vehicles sold, the average price was just $17,846.
Barrett-Jackson is Still the Biggest Show in Town, By Far
For a lot of car folks, “Scottsdale” is just a byword for Barrett-Jackson’s huge auction extravaganza at WestWorld, and they don’t even know there are other car auctions going on the same week. In 2020, Barrett-Jackson moved over 1,900 vehicles in Arizona for a total $137.1M. Last year was the company’s 50th anniversary, but what should have been a blowout in Scottsdale was delayed until March and featured a much shorter consignment list. B-J looks to be going full steam ahead for 2022, however, and Scottsdale’s mayor even proclaimed January 2022 as “Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction Month.”
Running from January 22-30, Barrett-Jackson will, as always, be the hub for high-end muscle and customs, and you’ll have to traverse the gargantuan hall of vendors to find them. Most of the best Barrett-Jackson cars will cross the block on Saturday, January 29 and highlights include the 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake and an ex-Burt Reynolds 1977 Trans Am.