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Muscling in on the Chinese market.

Russo & Steele--one of the "big three" US collectible muscle car auction companies--is powering into the Chinese market through an affiliation agreement with the China used car firm, CALI (China Auto Logistics, Inc.).

Specializing in European sports cars, American muscle cars, hot rods and customs, Russo & Steele was launched in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2001. Chief executive officer, Drew Alcazar, had a vision of staging an exclusive, boutique-style auction that remains the only one of its kind. To create and maintain Russo & Steele in an exclusive format for car enthusiasts, only registered bidders, consignors and their guests are permitted in the main auction tent where the cars cross the auction block into a high energy arena, with dinner and cocktails part of the experience. Only the outdoor staging area, where hundreds of cars are readying for their moment in the spotlight, is open to the public.

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Russo & Steele developed the "Auction in the Round" concept, which allows for a very interactive auction block with the sense of urgency and emotion that live auction events are all about. The company hosts two auctions a year--at Scottsdate each January and Monterey, California, in August.

For the Chinese market, Russo & Steele is again pioneering a new way to buy and sell muscle cars--this time through the Internet. Andrew Alcazar says a new approach had to be found because China is very much a two class society, with a large wealthy and working class but a relatively small middle class. One consequence of this is that interest in collectable cars is heavily oriented to those in the six figure cost range (i.e., over $100,000), and because few examples of the six-figure collectable cars even exist in China, they will be sourced and shipped from other countries. Many of the popular U.S. collectable muscle cars are not of interest in China because few people grew up with such cars and cannot identify with them as enthusiasts do in the U.S. The focus will be on internationally renowned, mostly post-WWII cars manufactured by Mercedes, Jaguar and Ferrari, with perhaps a few in the Cadillac group. Cars that "look cool and go fast" are most in demand as collectables.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Andrew Alcazar what the benefits to both sellers and bidders were of Russo & Steele's trademark "Boutique Style" auctions.

Alcazar: Keeping our sales small and intimate allow the enthusiasts to be at the center of the event. It is difficult to have any car, no mater how nice, rise above a sea of over 1,000 plus cars. From a buyer's perspective, getting asked to move as someone takes a picture to hang on their wall or be run over by a baby stroller when one is inspecting a potential purchase, compromises the integrity of the auction. In addition, buyers are easily desensitized by hundreds of venders, fashion shows, general public mayhem and other activities that simply do not lend themselves to the collector car auction experience.

AI: Why do you continue to maintain the lowest fees and commissions?

Alcazar: We, as enthusiasts ourselves, know that keeping costs and fees reasonable will continue our proven track record of creating loyal clients. Building equity in the relationships with our buyers and sellers is what we seek to foster. The best deals are the ones that are good for everyone.

AI: How quickly does Russo & Steele cash out their sellers?

Alcazar: We make every effort to be the "fastest guns in the west"! Once we have received cleared funds from our buyers, it is our obligation to cash our sellers out quickly. One of the very best ways to say "thank you" to our selling clients, and have them continue to bring high quality consignments to our sale, is to get their sales proceeds delivered promptly.

AI: Why does Russo & Steele stage only two auctions per year?

Alcazar: We want to offer our clients cars in venues that will have the very best environment for prospective buyers. In addition, it allows us to focus all our resources on these two events and offer personal attention to detail.
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Title Annotation:Andrew Alcazar speaks about muscle cars
Comment:Muscling in on the Chinese market.(Andrew Alcazar speaks about muscle cars)
Author:Barclay, Steve
Publication:Automotive Industries
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Dec 22, 2009
Words:684
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