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Classic car auctions kick off weekend in Arizona

Barrett-Jackson honors Carroll Shelby with record number of Shelby vehicles. Plus, the original Batmobile is on sale.

By Douglas Newcomb Jan 17, 2013 7:00AM

Barrett-Jackson Auction. Photo courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.Car collectors are swarming Scottsdale, Ariz., this weekend to bid on some of the most expensive car auctions in the world.

While Barrett-Jackson is the best-known car auction house thanks to extensive TV coverage, others such as Gooding & Co. and Russo & Steele are vying for a generous slice of the pie.

Muscle cars still rule the roost at Barrett-Jackson, which began Tuesday and runs until Sunday. This year, it features the largest offering of Shelby vehicles ever at a single auction. The Gooding event, which runs today through Saturday, leans more toward rare European vehicles, with three unique pre-World War II examples: a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Cabriolet A, a 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C1750 Series V Gran Sport and a 1933 Duesenberg Model J.

More than 40 Shelby vehicles will cross the block at Barrett-Jackson, including a 1965 GT350 formerly owned by Ford, a 2012 GT500 50th Anniversary Super Snake and “the rarest Shelby Mustang in existence,"  according to Barrett-Jackson, The Green Hornet. Throughout the weeklong event, Barrett-Jackson will also honor automotive icon Carroll Shelby, who died last year.

Barrett-Jackson’s 2013 Scottsdale event will also feature the return of the company’s Salon Collection, which it says incorporates “hand-selected vehicles that showcase the very best in automotive design and style.” Examples include Clark Gable’s 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe and the original 1966 Batmobile created by legendary car customizer George Barris.

While the Barrett-Jackson auction is a “no reserve” affair, meaning that there’s no set price and everything must be sold, Gooding sets “estimates.” The 1933 Duesenberg Model J “Disappearing Top” Convertible Coupe, seen below, has an estimated auction price of $2 million to $2.4 million. Gooding calls it “the most iconic example of the legendary Model J Duesenberg Coupe.” It was purchased in 1961 by a Los Angeles collector, who owned it for approximately 40 years, and it was displayed at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance five times between 1970 and 1985.

Even more pricey is the 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Cabriolet A (below), with an estimated auction price of $2.5 million to $3 million. Gooding calls it “one of the most beautiful and desirable pre-war Mercedes-Benz body styles” and “arguably the best of just 11 remaining examples of the 500 K cabriolet A.” The car was ordered new by a Swedish baron. After spending nearly 50 years in Sweden among a handful of collectors, in 1983 it moved to West Germany. In 2004, it became part of the current owner’s collection in the Netherlands.

With an estimated auction price of $1.5 million to $2.2 million, the 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Series V Gran Sport is a relative bargain. Like the Duesenberg, it also features a spectacular disappearing top. It was awarded Best in Class at the 1996 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and was twice entered at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and won third in class in 1985.

 Car collectors, start your checkbooks.

[Source: Gooding & Co.; Barrett-Jackson]

Jan 17, 2013 12:15PM
And who is boarding a plane to Phoenix tonight and will be watching the very first C7 Covette auctioned off for charity Saturday night at Barrett-jackson?    THIS GUY!  And I'm super stoked about it!
Jan 17, 2013 1:13PM
I am glad to see that Barrett-Jackson is finally branching out with the pre-WWII European cars.  The auction is fascinating for about 30 minutes, but after that long of miscellaneous 60's-70's muscle car one after the other they tend to run together and my mind gets numb.

Personally I would love to see more classic Japanese cars come up, like Hakosuka Skylines (the GT-R model of the Hakosuka can now hit $100k+ at auction and are VERY hard to find) or the Toyota 2000GT or early Honda S cars.  I know they probably won't do it; they have their specialty and I respect that.  Still after the first year it got boring so I have stopped watching.

PS: I would love to see that Mercedes-Benz 300SL in person!

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