Jerry Heasley
May 20, 2006

Maybe you saw the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction on the Speed Channel this past January. Watching it on the tube is a different ball game than being there in person.

Barrett-Jackson runs concurrently with four other auctions nearby that are not televised, with yet another one (Kruse International) the following week. We attended the Barrett-Jackson auction as well as Russo and Steele, another auction catering to musclecars.

Russo and Steele was founded and is owned by Drew Alcazar, whose blue '69 CJ Mach 1 was featured on the cover of this magazine in 1987. Later, Drew formed Concours Restoration in Rancho Cucamonga, California, where he restored Shelbys and assorted Ford musclecars. Finally, he went to work for Barrett-Jackson before starting his own auction company.

Jim Wicks, longtime Shelby enthusiast and promoter of the Mid-America Ford Performance and Shelby Meet in Oklahoma, attended Russo and Steele to help promote the sale of a trio of Shelbys, including a '67 Brittany Blue GT500. The Shelby was a no-sale at $197,000.

Ten years ago, Barrett-Jackson's forte was prewar classics. Today, musclecars are the main draw. Wayne Davis is a heavy-hitter collector from Southlake, Texas, who has been to every Barrett-Jackson auction since 1976. Wayne explained, "Barrett-Jackson used to be the big classic-car auction, but now Craig Jackson has turned it into a musclecar auction. And he's done an unbelievable job promoting it."

This doesn't mean that muscle has replaced classic in general at auctions. Wayne added, "Rob Meyer at the RM Auction events likes to do the big classics. That's what they're good at."

For longtime Mustang and Ford performance-car enthusiasts, both Barrett-Jackson and Russo and Steele attracted familiar faces in 2006. We couldn't walk across either of the auction grounds without recognizing somebody. For example, we saw our friend Jim Wicks at Russo and Steele on Friday.

"What are you doing here?" we asked.

Jim gave his soft-spoken, polite answer: "I always come here for the quality of cars and the people we can meet and talk with to discuss what is going on in the car market. I always enjoy the Shelbys, Mustangs, and Boss 302s."

This '65 GT350 mentioned in the story, serial number 041, was perhaps the longest original owner car. It sold for $297,000, one of the top vintage Mustang prices at the January collector-car auctions.

Jim, who has organized the giant Mid-America Ford Performance and Shelby Meet in Tulsa for over 30 years, rented a condo in Scottsdale with some friends who were associated with three different Shelby Mustangs for sale at Russo and Steele.

"We've got a '68 GT500 convertible, a '67 GT500, and a '66 GT350 that should be a record-setting car," Jim said. He led us to a gorgeously restored Brittany Blue '67 GT500, a gem of a car that was better than new.

"You've seen this car at Tulsa for years," Jim assured us. It was once owned by Butch Hale, a long-time participant at the Mid-America Meet. Jim had traced Hale's ownership to 1978, then to 1974 and former owner Bill Sledge. He even recalled Hale's dragstrip e.t.'s: 11.70s at 128 mph. Jim was there to help promote the sale for current owner Corey Standell.

Signs inform potential bidders about each car. When this yellow '68 GT500KR convertible rolled across the Russo and Steele auction block, the gavel dropped at $216,700.

While waiting for the auction to begin, we toured the assortment of cars with Jim on our way to see the other two Shelbys. We had to check out the '69 Boss 429. The driver's door was opened, and we recognized KK-1220, a black Boss 429 we recently photographed at Rick Parker's Boss Cars in Columbus, Ohio.

We figured Parker was somewhere on the grounds, but we discovered he had already sold the Boss 429, and the new owner took the car to Russo and Steele, obviously hunting the big auction money.

For the record, later that evening the Boss 429 sold for $308,000, which included the 10 percent buyer's commission. At Russo and Steele, the buyer pays a flat 10 percent fee. The seller pays an entry fee of $800 and a 10 percent commission if he retains a reserve. If he enters the car at no reserve, the fee is 5 percent, and the entry fee is $500.

This blue '66 GT350 brought $220,000 at Russo and Steele.

Auction position is another key to getting a good price for a vehicle. Auctions start as early as 10 a.m. and run late into the night. Friday or Saturday afternoons are the times collectors favor. Friday evening is prime, too, before people get tired and start heading back to their resort rooms.

We spent Friday at Russo and Steele before going to Barrett-Jackson on Saturday. Before the bidding began, the auctions located just a few miles apart seemed like car shows. Unlike private deals between individuals, auctions are public and broadcast over a loudspeaker.

On Saturday afternoon at Barrett-Jackson, the crowds were shoulder-to-shoulder outside on the midways.

When a '65 Mustang GT350 came across the block Friday evening at Russo and Steele, we recognized it as 041, an early production '65. We had checked it out earlier with Jim under one of the two white tents. This one was rumored to be the '65 Shelby with the longest-running owner. The car looked perfect inside and out and underneath.

You have full access to inspect the cars at the auction. Of course, Russo and Steele is not televised, but TV cameras go over the car and broadcast images to the giant screen above as the bidding begins. Bleachers rise high so spectators can easily see the car on the black-and-white-checkered tile floor.

Mustang Monthly's Jan. '06 cover car, the first GT350SR 40th Anniversary Shelby, sold for $307,800.

Bidding stalled at $200,000, then advanced to a quarter of a million for the '65 GT350. The auctioneer yelled his familiar "Going once, going twice ... Sold!" for the top bid of $267,000. Later, we read $297,000 off the final results, which includes the 10-percent flat-fee buyer's commission, the second highest Mustang price behind the Boss 429 at Russo and Steele.

Such megaprices seem unreal to 30-year veterans like Jim. You see a gleam in their eyes and sometimes a smile of vindication that they knew all these years just how important these cars were, even when the selling prices were $2,500 in the Bill Sledge days.

One of the three cars Jim was associated with sold. That afternoon we talked with Jeff Yergovich, who had partnered with Bob Gaines on the blue '66 GT350. "Gaines purchased the car and I did the restoration. We built the car to sell. It's a very unusual color, a very late car, with an all-steel hood. We've literally taken the car to the bare metal and counted every spot weld on it and made sure everything was correct and rust-free."

Celebrity status means something at a big auction...

Jeff's guess that the '66 would bring over $200,000 proved prophetic when the GT350 crossed the bidding block. The sale price was exactly $200,000, listed in the sale results as $220,000 after adding the buyer's commission.

The car Jim promoted, a '67 GT500 Brittany Blue fastback, was a no-sale at $197,000. The owners entered it in the Kruse sale the following week. The white '68 GT500 convertible was also a no-sale, topping out at $168,000.

Cars were still selling when we left the auction tent at 9:30 p.m. Back at the hotel, the Speed Channel was carrying Barrett-Jackson. It was after ten o'clock and cars continued to sell. The next day, we would be there.

...Sammy Hagar's red '67 Shelby GT500, complete with an autographed guitar, sold for $270,000.

Barrett-Jackson is bigger than Russo, not just in the number of cars, but also in vendors and ground area. Amazingly, this auction had begun the previous Tuesday. It was Saturday, day five, with one more day to go.

Barrett-Jackson has a significant media advantage with its TV coverage. This auction is a three-ring circus and a zoo all in one. Our walk from the parking lot was around half a mile. Once inside, there were hundreds of cars parked under giant white tents. The auction tent was separate, and the audience stretched for what appeared to be hundreds of rows. People became little dots in the far corners of the room.

Just like at Russo and Steele, we began bumping into Mustang people such as Brent Hajek, the Mustang and Ford drag-car collector from Oklahoma. Hajek was following a new Ford Racing FR-500 show car into the sale, but he didn't want the show car. He wanted the factory race-car version which would come along later.

Saturday is the biggest day for spectator attendance and the highest-profile cars. Everybody wants their car to run Saturday afternoon. As the afternoon passed, the crowds got bigger.

A red '67 GT500 looked hot in the line of auction cars leading into the big, white tent. Under the hood was a 427. This one wasn't stock, but looked good.

Ed Meyer at Russo and Steele. We didn't know he was a Pepsi man.

"That's Sammy Hagar," somebody whispered. Sure enough, a man with a mop of blond hair was signing autographs as he conversed with the crowd of people circling him and his Shelby. He was friendly and fit right in with the car people.

"Why are you selling it?" we asked.

Hagar laughed. He told us how after one or two trips, he scared everybody and they wouldn't ride with him anymore. "I've outgrown it," he said. "I've had it a long time. We've got a couple of girls and my wife won't let them ride in it. She won't ride in it." And, the Shelby had to be driven hard all the time because, "You can't just take it out for a Sunday cruise."

When the car crossed the block, Craig Jackson invited Hagar on stage. One of the Barrett-Jackson girls brought out a Hagar-autographed electric guitar to be included with the car. After bidding seemed to peak over $200,000, Hagar offered the audience backstage passes to any of his concerts. No question, this red '67 GT500 was not even close to concours condition compared to the under-$200,000-but-unsold blue '67 GT500 Jim showed us at Russo and Steele. However, the red Hagar GT500 sold for $270,000. Celebrity heritage carries weight.

Wayne Davis of Southlake, Texas, is one of the most knowledgeable collectors in the country. Wayne has set over 30 world records at Barrett-Jackson with his restorations. That's Wayne with his daughter, Ambry, and his wife, Mary Ann.

A new Shelby GT500 was next. The new Shelby had not been released yet, so what was this? A Ford spokesman explained it was a prototype. It would cross the block, but the winning bidder would not get this car. He or she would receive "a low VIN or early customer car, yet to be built."

Edsel Ford was driving and Carroll Shelby was riding shotgun. The crowd went wild as they exited the GT500 and walked to the podium. Shelby noted the proceeds would go to the Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation. During the auction, Shelby pulled off his black cowboy hat and started waving it in the air, inciting the crowd. It was a great time for Mustang and Shelby enthusiasts, and the highlight of both auctions, in our opinion. Ford had auctioned off the first Ford GT a couple years earlier at a sale price of $500,000. The new Shelby Mustang, however, brought $600,000.

There were more surprises ahead, one that shows how unpredictable Barrett-Jackson can be. A '70 Hemi 'Cuda hardtop had just brought $450,000, maybe a world's record. The next car up was a black '68 Cobra Jet Mustang fastback. Signs with big letters read Hemi Hunter. We didn't think the fastback would be anything special so we walked out of the auction tent for a breather. A few minutes later, Hajek told us the CJ brought a whopping $475,000. Then somebody else said, no, it was half a million.

Factory race cars are a big draw, even new ones like this Ford Racing FR-500 that sold for $170,000.

Whether this '68 was one of the 50 drag cars, we do not know. Hajek believes it was a Folger Ford (California dealer) car that Chuck Folger might have raced. Later, Ed Meyer, the Boss 429 enthusiast from Indiana, ascribed the car to Ted Diller, the same seller who put a new Shelby aluminum 427 in a black '67 GT500 a couple years ago and brought a then-world's record $270,000.

Soon the FR-500 race car was on the block. Brent was there and the TV crews were asking him questions. Brent bid the FR-500 race car up to $135,000, and then got out. The bid kept climbing to around $170,000, where it sold. Brent commented that we would have to wait ten years before it was a collector car. Apparently, collectors know factory race cars are special from the day they become available.

Another celebrity with a Mustang at the sale was Chip Foose, the famous designer we see on TV every week. Unique Performance brought out a Chip Foose Stallion, a 2006 model, which we'll see in showrooms soon.

"We expected $70,000," Bobby Mikus of Unique Performance said. The final bid was almost a hundred grand higher. The list shows the price with commission at $167,400.

Race-car collector Brent Hajek attended Barrett-Jackson in hopes of taking a Ford Racing FR-500 back home to his collection in Oklahoma.

Another Unique Performance Mustang was the '65 GT350SR that was on Mustang Monthly's January cover. Car #001 of 40 to be built, this silver fastback sold for an amazing $307,800. Anybody can buy one of the other 39 for less from Unique, but having the first one off the line is definitely special.

The high price here suggests bidders are most concerned about the condition of the vehicle. However, when a 6,000-mile, white, '68 Shelby GT500KR came up for sale, it set a world's record price for its collector value, at over $400,000. Barrett-Jackson lists the total with commissions at $432,000.

We have to question whether such a price indicative of the current market. Nobody can answer conclusively. Perusing the list, there is a higher price, $442,000, for a restored, red-with-white-stripes '67 GT500 fastback.

At Barrett-Jackson, all cars are offered at no reserve, so every car sells. If the owner is discontent with the high offer, he can bid the car up. However, if he is the high bidder, he has to buy his car back, in effect paying the commissions.

As the sun went down, we spotted Ed Meyer and his girlfriend walking quickly across the Barrett-Jackson grounds. They were anxious to get into the sale.

"I had to look at four cars for a guy, so I just got here," Ed explained. He was disappointed there were no Boss 429s, his passion, at Barrett-Jackson. The day before, he had watched KK-1220 bring over $300,000 at Russo and Steele. He had already found out about the '6811/42 CJ that brought "400 and some thousand," or what he called stupid money, at Barrett-Jackson.

"They called it the Hemi Hunter?" Ed asked. "That's totally out of line."

Actually, out of line prices may be the face of the future. Our assessment is this: As the cars age and get more valuable, more of the collectors sell out for big money. In a way, it's sad, but as they say, it is what it is.

Guys like Jim Wicks, Ed Meyer, Rick Parker, and hundreds more meet in Arizona in the heart of the winter. They rent nice places to stay. They escape the cold to warm up, weather-wise and friend-wise. They tell old tales of cars and the way it used to be, some true, some myth. They marvel at high prices. And so, they let the vintage tin go and their cars fade away. But like old soldiers, the cars never die. They just cost more.

Interview with Drew Alcazar
MM: Who are the people buying these cars? Are they aging baby boomers?

Alcazar: By and large, that's probably the case. The thing I find most interesting with collectors doing business with Russo-Steel is they are genuine, knowledgeable, and savvy enthusiasts who will have anywhere between five and a dozen cars in their collections.

MM: So, they are collectors?

Alcazar: Oh, yeah, very much so. They are not what some might think to be first-time baby-boom buyers who are buying a bobble. They know exactly what they are buying. They'll have a couple or three cars consigned to an auction. They'll bring four or five out to sell, sell three or four, then buy two or three. They have a small collection that is sort of moving and rotating. As their tastes change and they become more educated on what they are buying, they'll continue to grow their collections and even upgrade to more significant cars.

MM: How do you explain the high prices?

Alcazar: I think they are a byproduct of the demand and the enthusiasm behind the cars. I don't know if the prices are high, to be honest with you.

MM: $220,000 for a '66 Shelby GT350?

Alcazar: That was an award-winning car built by Shelby-American judges. That car was correct from head to toe. Just the parts alone to build the car were probably $50,000. It was built by a professional shop getting paid a reasonable rate, probably between $80 and $100 an hour to perform the work at somewhere between 3,000-5,000 hours. I think when you take all those things into account, the prices are not that out of sight.

Shelby Auction for Charity
At Barrett-Jackson, the Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation generated more than one million dollars to set a new record for money raised for children's organ transplants and research. Ford teamed up with Barrett-Jackson to auction off the rights to purchase the first 475hp Shelby GT500. The final hammer price was $600,000, with all proceeds going to benefit the foundation. Later, Gary Goudie of Knoxville, Illinois, won the Win-A-Cobra raffle, which generated $485,000 in ticket sales, all benefiting the foundation. As the winner, Goudie took delivery of Carroll Shelby's personal aluminum-bodied Shelby Cobra CSX 1000 during the SAAC Does Vegas event in Las Vegas.

To complete the million-dollar day, when a '66 Shelby Cobra CSX3000 sold for $594,000, seller Melvin Jones graciously agreed to donate 20 percent of the final auction price above $350,000, or approximately $50,000, to the foundation. After the sale, the buyer of the Cobra, Michael Armand, agreed to match the $50,000 donation.

"I'd like to thank all of the thousands of big-hearted people who reached into their wallets to help us out," said Carroll Shelby. "By purchasing tickets and bidding at the auction, each of them will help us in our efforts to provide assistance to children whose families might not be able to afford the procedures, as well as donate funds to further research in this area. I just want everyone to know that those donations will help us make a huge difference in the lives of these deserving youngsters."

You can learn more about the Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation at www.cscf.org.

Top {{{Mustang}}} Winter Auction Prices
Barrett-Jackson
'07 {{{Shelby GT500}}} $648,000 First one offered for public sale
'68 {{{CJ}}} fastback $513,000 Black, 556hp
'68 Shelby GT500KR fastback $432,000 White, low mileage
'67 Shelby GT500 $442,800 Red w/white stripes, restored
'65 Shelby GT350 $335,880 Restored, award winner
'68 Shelby GT500KR convertible $302,400 20,000 miles, yellow, restored
'65 Shelby GT350SR $307,800 Serial number 01 from Unique Performance
'67 Shelby GT500 $270,000 Red, 427, owned by Sammy Hagar
'67 Shelby GT500 $237,{{{600}}} Brittany Blue, restored
'70 Shelby GT500 convertible $232,{{{200}}} Triple white, advertised as one of one
'67 Shelby GT500 $222,480 Lime Green, restored
'05 Mustang FR500C $201,{{{960}}} Turnkey race car, Barrett-Jackson edition
'05 FR500C race car No. 55 $201,960 Won '05 {{{Grand Am}}} race at {{{Daytona}}}
'68 Shelby GT500 fastback $183,600 Black, four-speed, restored
'66 Shelby Hertz GT350 $180,{{{900}}} Black, restored
'68 Shelby GT500 convertible $180,900 Highland Green, restored
'68 Shelby GT500 fastback $194,400 Black, four-speed, restored, modified 428
'06 Foose Stallion $167,400 First car from Chip Foose
'68 Shelby GT500 convertible $147,960 Acapulco Blue, four-speed
'68 Shelby GT500 convertible $140,400 53,200 miles, red, four-speed
'67 Shelby GT500E $140,400 Silver w/black
'68 Shelby GT350 fastback $131,{{{760}}} White w/blue stripes, restored, four-speed
'66 Shelby GT350 $109,080 Ivy Green, unrestored
'05 {{{GT}}} $102,600 Bonspeed Black Rose concept car
'68 Shelby Eleanor convertible $99,360 Black w/silver
'70 Boss 302 $87,480 14,{{{323}}} miles, red
'70 Boss 302 $75,600 Yellow, modified engine
'70 Boss 302 $71,280 Red, restored
'71 Boss 351 $70,200 Black, special-purpose {{{Ford}}} vehicle, restored
'65 K-code convertible $70,200 Red, four-speed, owned by Ricky Nelson's sons
'65 custom fastback $67,500 Yellow, 393 ci, six-speed
'65 K-GT convertible $64,800 Rangoon Red, four-speed
'71 Boss 351 ${{{62}}},{{{100}}} Lime Green
'69 Mach 1 $60,480 Modified 351, red
'69 Mach 1 $60,480 390, four-speed, red
'68 GT fastback $53,460 302, four-speed, white, restored
'68 {{{California}}} Special $52,920 302, Sea Foam Green, restored
'69 Mach 1 $50,760 428 CJ, four-speed, blue
'66 custom fastback $49,680 GT350 clone, rollcage
'69 Mach 1 $48,600 390, four-speed, blue, restored
'71 Boss 351 $45,360 26,451 miles, restored, pewter
'69 convertible $43,200 Custom-built Boss 302 clone, auto, no Boss engine
Russo and Steele
'69 Boss 429 $308,000 Black, early production
'65 Shelby GT350 $297,000 White, early production
'66 Shelby GT350 $220,000 Blue, professionally restored
'68 Shelby GT500KR $216,700 Yellow convertible
'65 Shelby GT350 $204,600 White
'68 Shelby GT500 $203,500 White
'66 Shelby GT350 $198,000 White
'68 Shelby GT500 $184,250 White
'66 Shelby GT350 $178,750 Green
'67 Shelby GT500 $176,000 Red
'66 Shelby GT350 $151,250 Blue
'68 {{{Mustang GT}}} $145,750 Red
'67 Shelby GT500 $140,250 Red
'68 Shelby GT500KR $138,600 Grey
'69 Shelby GT350 $132,000 Aqua
'69 Shelby GT500 $121,000 Aqua
'70 Mach 1 $93,500 Blue
'70 Shelby GT350 $88,000 White
'70 Boss 302 $77,000 Yellow
'65 Mustang GT $72,600 Blue
'70 Mustang 428 $67,650 Yellow
'71 Boss 351 $66,000 Red
'70 Mustang $60,500 Green
'70 Boss 302 $55,000 Blue
'69 Shelby GT350 $55,000 Red
'65 Mustang $48,400 Black
'00 Cobra R $44,000 Red
'71 Mach 1 $43,450 Silver
'69 Mustang GT $42,900 Red