Drew Alcazar, owner of Russo and Steele, listens as bids are taken on a Red 1969 Jeep CJ5 Sport Utility during the Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auction at the Newport Dunes Resort, Friday. (Don Leach, Daily Pilot / June 21, 2013)

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Dozens of car owners armed with rags and cleaners got their vehicles glistening in the summer sun, hoping to catch the eye of a potential buyer.

Drew Colome's bright orange 1977 Volkswagen Thing had spectators flocking to it during the first Russo and Steele car auction at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort and Marina on Friday.

"This is the last Thing produced that came to America from Volkswagen," said Colome, 43, of Newport Beach. "It was made in Germany and not in Mexico like all the others."

The two-day Scottsdale-based event made its way to Southern California and Newport Beach for the first time, with about 400 cars set to drive onto the auction block, according to co-founder Drew Alcazar.

Colome's VW Thing wasn't alone in looking for a new home. A pristine, black 1968 Aston Martin DB6 sat on one end of the event grounds. A couple hundred feet away a red 2008 Bugatti Veyron sunbathed next to a limited-produced Porsche Carrera GT.

"This has been an 18-month project to get to this point today," he said. "It's all exciting to see it all come to fruition."

Alcazar, who with his wife, Josephine, owns a house on Lido Island, had a feeling that Newport would be a good location to expand his auctions. This year will also be the first time the event makes its way to Las Vegas.

"They're all destination locations: Monterey, Scottsdale, Las Vegas and Newport Beach," he said. "They're places where people can bring their families, wives and significant others."

He wanted to make sure that not only was he offering a unique experience for enthusiasts with his auctions, but also an environment where everyone can have a good time.

"Car guys will crawl over broken glass on our hands and knees to look at a stupid old car," Alcazar said. "I need to have areas where I can do what I want to do, but has destinations to where people can go do other things. The great thing about Newport Beach is they can be boogie boarding, running over to Disneyland or having a spa day."

Colome has been around Volkswagens for most of his life and spends his time restoring and selling them for his company, Colome Motors. He did the same with the VW Thing he bought a year ago.

"We're selling it because we'd like to profit from it," he said. "But other than that, I like coming out and meeting the people. A lot of times, if we don't do well on the event, we have fun talking to people and getting our face out there again."

Chino Hills resident Jerry Jacobs eyed the Thing for a little bit, but upon inspecting the engine bay, he said he wasn't going to make any offers on it any time soon.

"It's got 19,000 miles and it's really nice," he said. "But if you look at the engine compartment, [the engine's] been blowing a lot of oil and they didn't clean it enough. You know there was a problem with it even though they cleaned it up."

Jacobs, 66, said he grew up on a farm with six brothers and has been tinkering with cars since then.

He does roughly the same as Colome — buying, restoring and selling cars. Now retired, Jacobs goes to as many auctions as he can as a hobby.

The best car he ever bought was a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette, but eventually he sold it to someone offering him "too much money," he said.

"Three hundred, fifty [horsepower], side pipes, four-speed; the coupe though. Not a convertible," Jacobs said. "I'd like to get another one of those."

If You Go

What: Russo and Steele Car Auction

Where: Hyatt Regency Newport Beach

When: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday

Parking: $10 at 101 N. Bayside Drive

Admission: $20 at russoandsteele.com