Russo and Steele Auction
Photo by Russo and Steele

January sees two events in the Valley that offer national and sometimes worldwide name recognition: the Waste Management Phoenix Open — which we cover elsewhere — and the Barrett-Jackson car auction.

Going into its 46th year, Barrett-Jackson offers car enthusiasts the chance to ogle — or buy, for the independently wealthy — gorgeous classics and expensive modern rarities.

Steven Tyler and Craig Jackson pose with Tyler's 2012 Hennessey Venom GT
Steven Tyler and Craig Jackson pose with Tyler’s 2012 Hennessey Venom GT. Photo by Barrett-Jackson

This year, for example, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame will auction his 2012 Hennessey Venom GT Spyder. It should fetch more than $1 million.

On the other end of the spectrum, the one-of-a-kind 1960 Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle 1, which informed the development of the 1960s Corvette, will appear as well. Plus, you can bid on a 2014 Dale Earnheardt Jr. NASCAR race car, Justin Bieber’s 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia, pristine cars from the 1930s and 1,500 other vehicles.

In addition to the auction, attendees will find a massive market with memorabilia, cars, boats, art, artifacts and everything else related to motoring. Plus, they can attend symposiums, take test drives with major manufacturers and more. Get all the details at www.barrett-jackson.com.

In all, Barrett-Jackson sounds like the perfect destination spot for the car enthusiast, so why would you need anything else?

First, the event draws massive crowds — 350,000 or so during its 9 day run, which this year takes place Saturday, Jan. 14 to Sunday, Jan. 22. Some people might prefer a somewhat smaller event.

Second, while tickets on some days can be a reasonable $17, if you buy in advance, they can also go as high as $75 on the major auction day. Finally, as some car guys like to point out, the spectacle often overshadows the actual cars.

If you want a less expensive and more intimate car auction experience, or you simply want to look at more cars, the Valley offers several alternatives.

Tired of auctions? Check out 3 museums car enthusiasts are sure to love.

1. Russo and Steele

Russo and Steele owner Drew Alcazar
Russo and Steele owner Drew Alcazar brings excitement to car auctions. Photo by Russo and Steele

You might know Russo and Steele as “that other big car auction,” but with its new home at Salt River Fields, it hopes to give Barrett-Jackson a serious challenge for car auction supremacy.

Unlike Barrett-Jackson with its legion of entertainments, Russo and Steele maintains a focus on the auction itself. It offers primarily European classics and American muscle cars; this year you can expect to see a 2004 Ford GT prototype, a ’71 Dodge Hemi Challenge, a ’54 Mercedes 300 Cabriolet A Convertible, a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, and 800 other impressive vehicles.

With its intimate auction-in-the-round seating and dynamic auctioneers — including owner Drew Alcazar — it promotes a “car guy” atmosphere where auction winners are free to get excited (as you see in the picture at the top of the article). Additionally, it costs just $30 per day, which makes it less than half the cost of Barrett-Jackson’s biggest auction day.

Where: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 7555 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale
When: Wednesday-Sunday, Jan. 18-22, gates open at 9 a.m., auction starts at 11 a.m.
Cost: $30 per day, $20 Sunday
More info: russoandsteele.com

2. Bonhams

Ex Scuderia Ferrari, 1952 Ferrari 340 America Spider Competizione
Ex Scuderia Ferrari, 1952 Ferrari 340 America Spider Competizione, Photo by Bonhams

Long-standing British auction house Bonhams offers a smaller — and sometimes quirkier — collection of cars than the bigger auctions. These can range from a potentially $9 million 1952 Ferrari 340 America Spider Competizione to a 1977 Honda Civic CVCC (estimated at $25,000) or the 1960 Lambretta LI 125 Series 2 scooter (estimate at $16,000).

The auction only lasts one day, but the public can preview the 100-plus cars for several days prior and attend the auction itself.

Where: The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, 6902 East Greenway Parkway, Phoenix
When:
Preview: Tuesday-Thursday, Jan. 17-19, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Thursday)
Auction: Thursday, Jan. 19, 11 a.m.
Cost: $20 for a Gallery Guide (admits 1), $100 for a Bonhams Scottsdale Auction Catalog (admits 2), $150 bidder registration.
More info: www.bonhams.com

3. Gooding & Company

1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix
1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix, Photo by Gooding & Company

Gooding & Company’s auction — now in its 9th year — offers 126 vehicles that skew toward European automakers from the early half of the 20th century. That includes Bugattis, Bentleys and Alfa Romeos from the ’20s and ’30s, and from America, a 1911 Ford Model T Torpedo Speedster.

Of course, you can find plenty of Ferraris and Porsches through the decades, and a rare 1974 AAR Gurney Eagle Indy Car. Ticket prices do run a little high, but you only need to buy one and you can attend all the events.

Where: Scottsdale Fashion Square, 4700 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
When:
Viewing: Wednesday-Saturday, Jan. 18-21, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (5 p.m. Saturday)
Auction: Friday-Saturday, Jan. 20-21, 11 a.m.
Cost: $40 per person, $100 for 2 persons and a catalogue, $200 bidder registration. One ticket good for all events. Children under 12 are free.
More info: www.goodingco.com

4. RM Sothebys

2013 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport 300
2013 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport 300, Photo by RM Sotheby’s

The name RM Sothebys carries a lot of prestige in the auction world, so it should be no surprise that it set up shop at the glamorous Arizona Biltmore resort. RM brings with it 100 hand-picked cars that include some heavy hitters from the car world, including a 1995 Ferrari F50, a 2003 Ferrari Enzo, a 2013 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport 300, a 1965 Aston Martin DB5, and a 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra.

While you won’t be able to attend the actual auction unless you want to pony up $200 for a bidder registration, preview hours are open to the general public for free.

Where: Arizona Biltmore, 2400 East Missouri Avenue, Phoenix
When:
Preview: Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 18-20, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Auction: Thursday-Friday, Jan. 19-20, 5 p.m.
Cost: Free during preview, $200 for bidders
More info: rmsothebys.com

5. Silver Auctions

1935 Plymouth Hot Rod
1935 Plymouth Hot Rod, Courtesy of Silver Auctions

Thought not typically included in the list of Arizona Auto Week auctions because it hosts outside of Scottsdale — Fort McDowell to be specific — you can’t ignore Silver Auctions’ 600-car lineup. It also offers an interesting alternative to the auctions already mentioned.

Most of the Arizona Auto Week auctions tend to focus on expensive or rare classics and high-profile modern cars. Take a look at the list of Silver Auctions’ cars and you’ll see a number of relatively mundane entries, such as a 1985 Pontiac Trans AM, a 2000 Toyota Tacoma, a 2006 Dodge 1500 truck, and similar.

Of course, you can still find plenty of classics, vintage models and more expensive modern cars. However, the lot list conspicuously lacks names like Ferrari, Porsche (aside from a Boxster or Cayenne), Lamborghini, Maserati, etc. It also includes a number of restored or modified offerings.

Silver Auctions’ website states that the auction focuses on “affordable collector cars,” and “real buyers and sellers, real cars and real deals,” so the lineup makes sense. Also, if you want to buy something but a car isn’t in the budget, you can attend one of the several Memorabilia Auctions.

Where: Fort McDowell Resort & Casino, 10438 N Fort McDowell Rd., Fort McDowell
When: Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 19-22.
Cost: $20, Children under 12 are free
More info: www.silverauctions.com

– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org