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With Donald Osborne as Emcee...

Scottsdale: Sacred Ground for Car Collectors

The Western Wall, Bethlehem, Mecca, and Scottsdale are all holy places. My first pilgrimage to the Arizona desert auctions converted me to a believer. My 48-hour trip was a transcendental experience—it was short but unforgettable. The auction events at Scottsdale are sprawled out and scattered across town. If you replace the ocean with desert, events at Scottsdale have a similar feel and logistical cadence to Pebble Beach. Scottsdale requires that one invokes the “I have to put 10 pounds in a 5-pound bag” rule. Even if time permitted, there was just too much to see and do during Arizona car week.

An added benefit of my trip was that I got to pal around with my old friend and fellow American Flyer Steve Larsen. Steve is an avid car and motorcycle enthusiast with a phenomenal garage full of fun and meaningful machines. Steve is blessed with a lot of positive attributes and assets—one of the best of them being his wife Maggie. Back in 2003, we rode the South Island of New Zealand together and in 2005 we toured Turkey on BMW 1200 GS’s. When my father Max died in 2007,Maggie flew all the way out for the service. Motorcycle touring brought us all together and now we are lifelong friends.

My Arizona trip itinerary was ambitious. My mission was to visit with Steve and Maggie, have dinner with a great mentor and client who lives in Scottsdale, attend the Gooding and RM car auctions, and to speak at the Sports Car Market Insider’s Seminar. The panel was a smash success and was very well attended. Spirited discussions and robust Q&A covered several collector topics including valuation and building the right-sized collection. We will give TG and SCM readers more details on the Insider’s Seminar in an upcoming issue of Sports Car Market magazine.

For collector car enthusiasts, Scottsdale is sacred ground. The following photos and captions are vignettes from my short 48 hours in Scottsdale:

Arrival at Phoenix Airport

The event map in the SCM Insider’s Guide shows how the venues are very spread out around Scottsdale

Steve picked me up in his stunning McLaren MP 4

SCM Insider’s Seminar was a full house at Gooding

With Donald Osborne as Emcee…Carl Bomstead (center)

Steve Serio listening intently….Paul Hageman sharing his wisdom.

Paul Hageman takes the floor….

A good time was had by all, from left to right: Stephen Serio, Donald Osborne, Paul Hageman, Keith Martin, Philip Richter, and Carl Bomstead

After the seminar, we toured the Gooding collection—a stunning group of cars!

I also picked the 1985 Audi Quattro Coupe as a car to watch.


The Pagani was my pick for a dream car…

The Gooding tent was first class and so were the cars!

We headed over to RM and Keith checked out Steve’s McLaren!

We then headed over to RM at the Biltmore. The 300 SL has emerged as the standard benchmark of investment grade collector cars.

My other pick: the 959 at RM

Keith took this photo at Barrett-Jackson

Steve’s McLaren tucked in for the night.

Steve’s garage, note the NSX—he has owned it since new.

Steve’s Lotus that he has owned since 1969, totally restored to perfection, he even let me drive it!

My earning morning departure was preceded with a motorcycle ride around Phoenix

I got to drive the NSX to Sky Harbor Airport!


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4 Responses to Scottsdale: Sacred Ground for Car Collectors

  1. Chuck Coli January 24, 2018 at 12:07 pm #

    Philip,sound like a great trip …6 times with the Ferrari Daytona to Monterey but never Scottsdale that will be next year after Amelia Island and Barrett Jackson East…being in the car business for years interesting to watch it ‘evolve’ with newer more modern cars ( bought an 1988 carrera cabriolet 2 years ago) that you can actually drive and enjoy with creature comforts like AC! Looking to your comments in SCM on your Scottsdale experience,Chuck

    • Philip Richter February 26, 2018 at 5:49 pm #

      Chuck, Scottsdale is a lot of fun, it was my first time at the auctions. An 88′ Carrera Cabriolet is certainly a great car to enjoy!

  2. Mike Kovac January 24, 2018 at 8:41 am #

    Hey Philip, great article and pictures! Two comments:

    1) Audi UrQ prices have been rising slowly over the past 5 years and they are no longer sub $20k cars. It is a cool piece of history, although if we are being honest, you can get a lot of the same experience in a Gen 1 4000 Quattro sans 30hp and a turbo. Of course, you would be deprived of some of the best fender flares this side of Group B rallying. Sport Quattros were produced in far fewer numbers, as they were truly homologated road going cars and the market reflects this with S1 and S2 cars fetching close to half a million dollars. I personally think regular UrQs will continue to appreciate and will eventually be valued similar to E30 M3s. Get one now before that ship sails!

    2) Looking at that picture of the NSX made me sick with nostalgia for simpler times. And made me realize how quickly the industry has changed in the last 15 – 20 years. Pedestrian crash regulations have killed front end design as far as I’m concerned and ** most ** have replaced lightweight, quick and engaging with heavy, stupid fast and sterile as electronics continue to supplant driver involvement. But the recipe hasn’t been completely lost…. Alfa has blessed us with the wonderfully raw 4C and manufacturers like Lotus still make cars like Evora, thank God. Perhaps we will even see a renaissance of manual transmission sports cars as paddle shifters become more and more commoditized. But….. However much we enthusiasts may wish for more cars like the 4C and Evora and more manual boxes, the reality is we are a very small minority and most people couldn’t give two tosses about driving. So I have vowed to convert this nostalgia into passionate hording. If nothing else, being a contrarian will keep our hobby alive and well for generations to come.

    • Philip Richter January 24, 2018 at 10:19 am #

      I too have a thing for German fender flares! The E30 M3 being the most iconic of flared 80’s cars. I agree with everything you said! We must keep the hobby alive for future generations as driver-less cars, ride hailing, and electrification arrive on the scene….as cars become style-devoid pods….Passionate hording is the way to go!