East Coast/Sports & GT Specialist
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Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted importer of European classics while living in London, England. Now residing in the Boston area, Don serves as the vice-chairman of the Aston Martin Owners Club North America and the editor emeritus of its magazine, The Vantage Point. Most knowledgeable about cars produced between 1945 and 1985, Don specializes in Aston Martin and sports and GT cars. He is also interested in European marques and the relatively new area of Japanese collector cars. A life-long automotive enthusiast, Don has a personal collection of historic race cars and has participated in a variety of road rally events, such as the Carrera Panamericana and the Mille Miglia of Argentina (Mil Millas). The culmination of his life-long interest in both cars and James Bond was realized when Don consigned the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 James Bond film car to RM’s 2010 London sale, and subsequently went on a world tour promoting the car. In Don’s own words, “It turned my hair grey and added five pounds; I didn’t sleep for months, and I loved every minute of it!”
Don Participated in 'The Grand Ascent' & 'The Elegance' with his 1939 Aston Martin 2-Litre Open Sports and was awarded with the 'Spirit of Competition Award', June 2012.
At 2012’s Cavallino Classic, Don judged the special Aston Martin feature class at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida and presented the AMOC Spirit Award to Jim Utaski for his Pebble Beach, Amelia Island and Villa d'Este concours award-winning DB5 Convertible.
Don participated in the VSCCA at Lime Rock Park in October, 2011. Don is seen here in his AC Ace during the Fall Finale.
2011 KIRKLAND CONCOURS AND TOUR D’ELEGANCE
By Don Rose
I have a dirty little secret: the Pacific Northwest, in particular Seattle and the islands in Puget Sound, have some of the best and most scenic driving roads in the country. Does it rain a lot? Yes, or so I've been told. But I'm also here to tell you that it doesn't rain every day, as the locals would have the rest of us believe!
After Pebble Beach, Amelia Island and the reconstituted Concours of America in Michigan, there are today a wide range of distinctive regional concours events around the country: The Glenmoor Gathering; Fairfield and Greenwich, CT; Hilton Head, SC; Keels & Wheels in Houston, TX; Newport, RI; and numerous concours in California such as Dana Point, Palos Verdes and Hillsborough. The Kirkland Concours, held on the eastern shore of Lake Washington just opposite Seattle, is among the best of these. One thing that distinguishes it from the others, and was an important factor in my decision to participate, was the three-day road tour that precedes the concours. The organizers had deviously made Aston Martin this year's featured marque, so why not take my open prewar Aston up there for the tour and the show? (Just put the thoughts of soaking the car in mud and driving rain out of your mind… or was I out of my mind?)
The tour begins with a ferry crossing from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, and we spend the next two days circling the devastatingly beautiful Hood Canal. We visited three significant car collections on the islands, and no trip to the region would be complete without a winery tour. A terrific group of 'car guys' (which includes lady car guys too) participate with a wide range of collector cars, most of whom are locals who I gather make this an annual pilgrimage. And as a bonus, concours participants are spared any judging knockdowns for related road wear (which came in handy in my case).
Well, we enjoyed three days of sunny, clear and dry weather, a pleasure in our open car, followed by an encore perfect weather day for the concours, which draws vintage wooden boats parked along the shoreline, as well as the increasingly popular display of motorcycles.
So, the cars: the Kirkland Concours attracts high-quality entrants, mostly from the region, which happens to be rich with important classics, but also from points further away. For example, headlining the Aston Martin class was Harry Yeaggy's recently acquired James Bond DB5, 'The Most Famous Car in the World' and multiple award recipient at Kirkland this year.
The class was supplemented by a DB4GT Zagato and the sole DB2/4 Allemano-bodied coupe, both sent from The Blackhawk Collection, as well as one the world's most important sports racers, Greg Whitten's DBR2. There were 11 Astons in all, plus a nice turnout of local club members' cars in the nearby club corral.
My car is a 15/98 Short Chassis Open Sports, with coachwork by Abbey, one of only 25 built to this configuration. Recently restored as a show/driver by noted Aston specialists Kevin Kay Restorations, I had little expectation of any awards, given the esteemed competition. As it turned out, the judging format was 'French style,' meaning that they eschew the point system in favor of overall style and elegance. Nobody was more amazed than myself when it was announced that my 15/98 was awarded Third in Class and then went on to garner one of the special awards, the Participant's Choice trophy, with the surprise announcement by Honorary Chairman, actor and well-known British car aficionado Edward Hermann.
I like to drive all my cars, so I don't consider myself a strong concours competitor, but I was happy to see Kevin's fine work recognized, as well as some respect afforded to this often overlooked Aston model.
There were a number of truly great cars in other classes as well, including Peter Mullin's 1934 Voisin Model 27 Coupe (which has to be seen because words cannot begin to describe…I first saw this car on a stand at Retromobile circa 2007), shown by Peter’s chief car wrangler Webb Farrer. Another special sports car class was established to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type, handily won by Peter Gleeson’s sharp 3.8 OTS. And last, but certainly not least, the Best of Show was awarded to Ray Sherr’s 1911 Simplex, fresh from its superlative restoration by good friend Bob Mosier. The car was stunning and Bob was behind the wheel grinning from ear to ear.
So with the weather cooperative, I couldn't have asked for more from my Kirkland experience. The associated road tour was not only a perfect way to make new friends while exercising my old car but also goes a long way to differentiate the Kirkland Concours weekend from the numerous other regional show events vying for great and interesting cars. Needless to say, I recommend it and will look forward to a return visit.
I would like to express my appreciation for the efforts of Event Chairman Jeff Clark, Expert Commentator Keith Martin, Peter Hageman for his constant cheerfulness and Tour-meister Al McEwan, who mastered the weather and was also there for me with his Bentley jack and hammer, without whom I might still be on the side of the road, probably in the rain!
Q: What particular marques and eras do you specialize in? How did you develop this interest?
A: I specialize in sports and GT cars, mostly from the 50s and 60s. I developed that interest from when I was very young reading car magazines as a teenager. So, the cars that were in Road & Track in the 1960s, a Ferrari 500 Superfast comes to mind, are the things that really stuck in my head.
Q: What is the most memorable car you sold at auction?
A: The most memorable car I’ve sold at auction, for me, is very easily identified as the James Bond Aston Martin DB5. I’ve been a Bond freak since I was ten years old and my mother took me to see Goldfinger in 1965, and that car, of course, that car became a star of the show, and also turned my head around as a young boy growing up in the Midwest, into the sophistication and elegance of European GT cars. That’s led to my own ownership of Aston Martins and I’ve been involved with the Aston Martin Owner’s Club for about 20 years now, in various directorship roles.
Q: What is your market prediction for this coming year?
A: Market predictions are always difficult to make with any accuracy. I think that the golden rule for me, and that I advise my clients generally, is to stick with quality. The best of almost anything is bound to be a good investment in the long run. We’re seeing surprising and consistent strength in the top end of the market, especially in the million-dollar-plus area, but that does trickle down into the very best examples of cars in the mid- and lower-price ranges as well. It may sound cliché, but “quality, quality, quality,” just like real estate – “location, location, location.”
Q: How do you keep busy in the collector car hobby?
A: Collector cars have been in the background with me since childhood and through my career in other industries. Now that I’m involved professionally with the hobby, it gives me the opportunity to spend more time yet in vintage racing, road rallies and concours event attendance. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I’m one the lucky souls on this earth who has turned his hobby and passion into a career. There are so many opportunities to engage with other enthusiasts. I like to keep up with as many as possible.
Q: What are you driving at the moment?
A: I have a number of collector cars, some significant, many minor and unusual. Some examples are my DB4 Aston Martin, which I’ve owned for a long time, and consider perhaps the core of my collection. I have two other earlier Astons, one of which I’ve done the California Mille with; it’s a 50s car, so it qualifies. I’m beginning to appreciate the 70s a little bit, believe it or not. I have what I consider one of the best Maserati Khamsins, at least that I’ve ever seen. I believe there’s also going to be a buzz on some of the Japanese collectibles. I’ve recently bought a Toyota 2000 GT and a Mazda Cosmo Sport, late 60s/early 70s cars.
Q: Any advice to new collectors?
My advice for new collectors is to start with what you know and what you love. Don’t buy anything strictly as an investment. Imagine the car in your garage five or ten years from now and still putting a smile on your face.
From New York City to Hong Kong, Don made stops all around the globe to display the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 James Bond Film Car, which went on to be the top-seller at our 2010 London auction, as well as the most expensive film car ever sold at auction.
“It's glorious and grueling. It's competitive and chaotic. And it's the most prestigious classic car driving event in the world.” Download Don's account of the 2010 Mille Miglia from the Summer 2010 issue of RM Magazine.
“Stunning scenery, smooth, uncongested roads, red meat, red wine and 150 or so classic cars. Oh yes – and springtime in December!” Download Don's account of the 2009 Mil Millas from the July 2009 issue of RM Magazine.