29 March 2012

Breathing room in the auction tent

It may only be March, but already changes are afoot and big plans being made for the August auctions in Monterey, Calif.

Notable among them are the venue changes recently announced for both Russo and Steele and for Bonhams.

Over the years, Russo has sort of become synonymous with the downtown Marriott on Calle Principal, with the hotel's cozy ballroom serving as the perfect night-club corral in which to sell cars. The drawback there has been the shortage of nearby space in which to park and display the consignments prior to and during the sale. Russo has gotten by making use of the parking garage down the block, but it's always been viewed as an unflattering place to show off six- and seven-figure automobiles. And, of course, it's not "on site."

For 2012, the Scottsdale-based company is moving its show to the waterfront, where it will set up shop at the Monterey Wharf. Logistics are still up in the air, though the space offers a sizeable parking lot in which to construct one or more auction tents. It could prove a smart move, as it will allow Russo to keep the show all together, not unlike the desert space it occupies every year in Scottsdale. How this translates to sales on the auction block is still anyone's guess. The three-day sale should feature about 250 cars, and takes place Aug. 16–18. You can learn more at russoandsteele.com

Meanwhile, Bonahms has always coexisted nicely at Quail Lodge alongside the Quail Motorsports Gathering. Its auction tent erected on the tennis courts has served the company well for 14 years, but for 2012, Bonhams will relocate to the lawns at the western end of the Quail grounds. Says Motoring Department Head Mark Osborne, "It is much more open and accessible and enables our clients to park at the sale site while providing greater space on preview and auction days, two key aims of our move." That two-day sale takes place Aug. 16–17, and you can learn more at bonhams.com.

In short, Russo and Bonhams are after the same thing in Monterey: room to maneuver. And in the ultra-competitive auction atmosphere on the peninsula, that can't be a bad thing. 

Stefan Lombard is managing editor of Hagerty magazine.

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