The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing originally owned by Hollywood legend Clark Gable was auctioned off in the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction on January 19. The real question of the night was, is the car worth more because of its original celebrity owner?
The 300 SL was purchased new by Clark Gable and customized with high priced updates, wood trimmed Nardi steering wheel and more. When the actor passed away in 1960, the car changed hands a few times before eventually landing in the garage of Charles Wood in 1975. In 1989, the Gullwing received a detailed restoration from a Massachusetts based Mercedes-Benz restoration specialist with Gable’s updates left in place.
Clark Gable’s 300 SL Gullwing was expected to go for $2 million, but it seems that in this instance, owning a car with a legendary owner was not worth the extra money. The bidding hit a standstill at $1.9 million and did not sell because of the high reserve. The car however did sell later on for $1.85 million.
Barrett-Jackson Lot: 5001 – 1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300SL GULLWING COUPE
Purchased new by Clark Gable at Mercedes-Benz of Hollywood, Calif. List price was $7,295 FOB NYC. After Gable’s death in November 1960, ownership was passed to Harry Haeigen, cartoonist and Gable’s publicist. Title passed to Charles Wood, owner of Grand Stand Amusement Park in 1975. In 1989, Mr. Wood commissioned Paul M. Russell of Gullwing Service Company, Inc. of Essex, Mass. To restore this classic at a cumulative cost of nearly $200,000. Gable ditched the standard steel wheels for the racing Rudge knock-offs the car wears now. The wood and chrome Nardi steering wheel replaces the standard white wheel, early photos show the Nardi wheel in Gable’s lifetime. The car was featured in the May/June 2006 edition of Motor Trend Classic magazine. At the time the car was subjected to extensive testing that shows it can handle and perform much as it did in 1955. Copies of the 1960s auto registration cards show Clark Gable’s signature along with Kathleen “Kay” Sprecker’s (5th Wife). Gable signed service orders from Mercedes-Benz of Hollywood for a lube/oil change for $4.00 and parts for $10.83 total. From the Bob Howard Collection.