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.