Clarke Gable’s Jaguar XK120 and cache of unseen Ferraris headline Lake Como auction
Villa Erba 2023 boasts a star-studded line up of sports cars
Lot 137: Clarke Gable's Jaguar XK120. Courtesy RM Sotheby's
Some of the world’s best and most sought-after automobiles will descend on Italy’s Lake Como this week for RM Sotheby’s much anticipated Villa Erba 2023 sale, organised in collaboration with Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. Among the prize lots are silver-screen icon Clarke Gable’s Jaguar XK120 and a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta by Scaglietti.
Held every two years, Villa Erba ranks among Europe’s foremost ’boutique’ sales, drawing car collectors from around the globe. The 2023 sale will feature the Aurora Collection – a Swedish private collection of mostly Ferraris that spans 68 years of automotive history and has never been displayed publicly or at any Concours event.
For those with even deeper pockets – and a penchant for automotive racing history – a series of iconic Ferrari “P” racing prototypes will also go under the gavel. Spanning a glorious decade from 1963 to 1973, the “P” series clinched back-to-back victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1963 and 1964, along with the famous 1-2-3 finish at the 1967 24 Hours of Daytona, triumphing over Ford in the World Championship that year.
A nostalgic De La Chapelle “Junior” 330 P2 replica is on the more relaxed end of the spectrum, finished in traditional Ferrari red. It boasts a modest 5-horsepower Honda engine and is an elegant alternative to high-speed performance with an estimate of €30,000-€40,000.
Amid the dazzling array of automobiles, one hidden gem stands head and shoulders above the rest – a battleship grey Jaguar XK120 once owned by legendary actor Clark Gable.
Gable drove the car from Paris to Rome, spending a three-week sojourn at Villa d’Este with his rumoured fiancée, Suzanne Dadolle. The car reflects Gable’s love of sports: the XK120 boasts competition-inspired upgrades such as wire wheels, bonnet louvres, and a custom luggage rack to carry his beloved golf clubs.
Recently restored and making a notable appearance at the 2016 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the Jaguar XK120 competed in the ‘Cars of the Stars – From the Silver Screen to the Studio Lot’ class.
It narrowly missed the top spot, losing out to Steve McQueen’s former Ferrari 275 GTB/4, which will grace the RM Sotheby’s 2023 Monterey auction.
Gable’s Jag will go under the hammer on 20 May, with an estimate of €350,000 and €500,000.