High Winds Hit Russo Steele’ Scottsdale Auction

A powerful squall line swept through Scottsdale, Arizona Thursday, blowing down one of two giant tents housing cars to be auctioned, and wreaking havoc at Russo and Steele’s auction.
With the sale underway, the storm intensified through the late afternoon, and just after sunset, gusts ripped the north tent from its support poles, leaving them to crash down onto the hundreds of cars parked beneath, awaiting their turn to cross the auction block. Some cars were heavily damaged by the falling metal tent poles, some over 30 feet high. Other cars received relatively minor damage – dents, missing trim, scratches, and broken glass. The tents were unoccupied, having been evacuated earlier in the evening.
Many cars suffered severe damage like this
when the big tent poles fell. The tent was
evacuated earlier as the storm approached.
Photo Credit: Fred Koenig

As the storm worsened, the sale was interrupted and the sale tent also evacuated. The north tent was blown off the grounds and onto the adjacent Loop 101, an interstate-type highway. With the tent gone, the damaged collector cars, many with broken glass and damaged convertible tops, were vulnerable to the heavy rains. Owners were not allowed back into the area due to downed power lines, water, and other dangers.

The Russo and Steele auction operates with two 800-foot long tents. The north tent blew down and onto the 101 Loop highway, backing up traffic, and the other partially blew down and then onto the cars that were under the north tent. Photo: Russo and Steele

Mike Patak of Mike’s Classic Cars in Blair, Nebraska, brought a ’66 Shelby, and a ’68 Mustang GT with a 428 Cobra Jet engine sold through Tasca Ford in Rhode Island, along with two full-size Fords to sell. One of his big Fords, a rare ’62 406 car, sustained body damage, broken windows, and paint damage, while the Tasca Mustang got away with a missing rocker panel and hubcap.

“They’re telling us to turn it in to our insurance company,” Mike told us.
Haggerty Insurance was there immediately with 35 adjusters,” said Fred Koenig, who had two cars for sale. Fred told us that Haggerty did not try to minimize the claims with its policy holders, and assured them that the cars would be fixed to their standards.
Early damage estimates were $1.5 million, or an average of $5000 for each of the 300 cars in the tent, but some experienced restorers expect the final cost to be much higher. Russo and Steele requires cars for sale to be covered by insurance.
After clean-up on Saturday, the sale resumed Sunday and was extended through Monday.

Inside the giant tent, collector cars amassed for the sale. When the high winds
lifted the canopy, the poles, some three stories high, collapsed onto the cars.
Photo: Russo and Steele

Click here to see the scene from a news helicopter

Click here to see hundreds of photos of storm damaged cars

Russo and Steele website