Clark Gable’s Benz Didn’t Make it Off the Auction Block?

by Joe Ferguson on February 12, 2013

car auctions

Any well-maintained classic car can hold a great deal of value at an auto auction. As we’ve seen time and time again, if that same car was previously owned by a famous person, it can generate substantially more cash and fly off the auction block. That wasn’t exactly the case last month at a Barrett-Jackson auction with Clark Gable’s 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing.

Clark Gable is, without a doubt, one of Hollywood’s most prolific stars of Tinseltown’s golden years. One would think that anything owned by him that was put up for sale at an auto auction – even an old handkerchief or a sandwich he never finished – would find a home with a film enthusiast or memorabilia collector. He was Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind (1939), and his carrot-chomping character in It Happened One Night (1934) is purported to be the inspiration for Bugs Bunny, for crying out loud.

That’s why I was shocked when Gable’s 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing failed to sell at Barrett-Jackson last month. I mean, come on, we’re not talking about some electric scooter owned by Pauly Shore. If Joe Dirt’s 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona can make it off the block and Clark Gable’s car can’t – we’ve got a serious situation on our hands, America.

It’s not as if the car didn’t end up getting sold; after the auction, the ’55 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing did change hands for $1.85 million, just below the original asking price of $1.9 million. This is in no way a small amount of money, so whoever ended up purchasing this great car did shell out more than a few shekels.

Not every auction-bought car is going to have a previous owner as impressive or famous as Mr. Gable or, thank goodness, as hefty a price tag. Anyone who wants to buy an auction car can most likely find a reasonably priced ride without such noble lineage.

Most of us don’t have the option of dropping an insane amount of money on an auction vehicle – lucky for us, with less expensive local and regional auctions, we don’t have to.

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