January and August are the two busiest months on the collector car calendar, but they are as different as desert and ocean. August in Monterey is a three-day spectacle of disposable wealth, with million-dollar cars selling haphazardly across the Peninsula the way oils are splashed on a Jackson Pollock painting.

January in Arizona is more like a Georges Seurat exercise in pointillism, with hundreds of smaller transactions combining to make the collector car market visible as a whole. Nearly 2,000 cars will cross five different auction blocks during a 12-day period. They will range from state-of-the-art hot rods to million-dollar Duesenbergs to ex-factory Ferrari race cars to hopeless, fifteen-year-old Mercedes saloons with odometer readings qualifying them as "mooners," a designation earned when a vehicle has covered 250,000 or more miles.

Each auction has its niche. The five-day Barrett-Jackson auction remains the once and future king of January, with its tightly organized, well-selected and brilliantly presented array of 800 cars, surrounded by literally acres of life-style accoutrements. It's more than an auction, it's a happening, a Woodstock of wire wheels and Hemis.

RM has staked out the boutique high ground, offering a group of select, top-end cars at the tony Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Biltmore Hotel. Russo and Steele, presenting just its third auction, is focusing on the upper reaches of the muscle car niche.

Silver and eBay Motors/Kruse International go at it head-to-head the weekend before Barrett-Jackson, with Silver offering a typical low-key, family-style event in picturesque Fountain Hills, Arizona, while Kruse, with the three kings of the auction podium-Dean, Daniel and Mitchell-continues to meld its successes of the past with its new found energy to define its direction for the the future.

There is no better way to spend two January weeks than by flying to sun-drenched Arizona and engaging in tire-kicking, car-buying and gossip-swapping at the various auctions. We'll be at all of them; we look forward to seeing you there.


Compared to fine art collecting, car collecting is a recent phenomenon. The first car was built barely more than 100 years ago, and it wasn't until the '50s that major collections began to be assembled.

As car collections develop, certain policy and thematic questions should be addressed. What is the theme of the collection? Does it represent a certain era or time? Does it focus on specific models? Are the cars to be kept original or should they be restored?

Miles Collier and the Collier Automotive Museum presented a four-day seminar in February, 2001 in Naples, Florida, that addressed these issues in a comprehensive manner.

Collier received a B.F.A. from Yale University in Fine Arts, and paints professionally. His avocation is automotive history and connoisseurship; His finely tuned collection is housed in the Collier Automotive Museum.

During the four days, presentations were made by a group of experts in various fields related to the automobile, including Dr. Edson Armi, author of The Art of American Car Design: The Profession and Personalities. Other luminaries were Phil Hill; historian Doug Nye; conservator Ray Nugent; tax-specialist Joseph Perkovich; restorers Roger Steer and Robert Ash; Scott George, president of the Collier Collection; and Miles Morris from Christie's and Simon Kidston from Bonhams.

Among the 35 attendees were 19 SCM subscribers, including William Binnie, Joe Cantore, Jack Croul, Dominic Dobson, Tom Ellis, Jim Grundy, Peter Hageman, Ervin Lyon, Bruce McCaw, Roger Morrison, Charlie Morse, Glenn Mounger, Victor Muller, Lou Sellyei, Phil Shires, Fred Simeone, Tom Stegman, Camilo Steuer and James Stranberg.

Porsches are one focus of the Collier Collection. On display are cars ranging from RSKs to Speedsters to 904s to 917s. Discussed were Collier's choices of cars, decisions about condition, and thoughts on which period of their individual history race cars should be restored to represent.

There are no hard and fast answers to these questions. What is important is to consider these issues in the first place.

Connoisseurship is not limited to the ultra-wealthy with museums full of goodies. Given a choice, should you choose a Bel Air with 35,000 miles on it that has been carefully taken care of, and shows signs of use? Or pick one that is better than when it left of the showroom floor?

If you have space for just two cars, they might be a 1965 Mustang and a 1967 Camaro, as a reflection on the pony-car era. Or for Alfa fanatics, consider a group consisting of a 1967 GT Veloce, a Duetto and a Giulia Super. Surely that would stand a s a high-point of pre-smog, pre-safety Alfa serial production offerings.

This isn't to say that the major part of collecting isn't ruled by the heart instead of the the head. At SCM, we recognize the irrational exuberance that accompanies most purchases, whether it be a beater MGB or a restored '64 Malibu SS convertible that reminds you of your first date.

But as you rush from auction to auction in Arizona this January, take a moment to reflect upon your longer-term reasons for collecting. You might find that with a little forethought, the cars you acquire will end up being a part of a more satisfying whole, rather than just an assemblage of mismatched bits.


A tasty 1963 Corvette in a period setting illuminates our cover this month. Dana Forrester's watercolor, "Tastee Freeze," recalls his initial encounter with the landmark Sting Ray design. "I was in junior high school in Kirksville, Missouri," said Forrester, "and I still remember being stunned by the sculptural statement of the shape."

He began painting Corvettes in 1989, two years after buying a 1966 Sting Ray coupe. His paintings have been featured in Corvette Fever, Super Chevy, Old Cars Weekly, Mustang Monthly, and the Robb Report.

Prints of "Tastee Freeze," from an edition of 700, can be ordered for $60, plus shipping. They are printed on neutral pH, acid-free paper and measure 10½ x16 inches. Artist's proofs are $120, limited to an edition of 40. E-mail [email protected] or call 888/755-8388 (MO).

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