Lot 137

Villa Erba 2023

1952 Jaguar XK 120 Roadster

Delivered new to Clark Gable


€387,500 EUR | Sold

Italy | Cernobbio, Italy



Chassis No.
Engine No.
W 5086-8
Body No.
F 4926
Swiss Carte Grise
  • One of the most famous XK 120s in the world
  • Delivered new to legendary Hollywood actor, Clark Gable
  • Specified by Gable with unique competition-inspired features
  • Subject of an extraordinary restoration; revealed at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in 2016
  • Retains its matching-numbers body, chassis, and engine
  • Offered for the first time at public auction after 41 years of single-family ownership
  • Una delle più famose XK 120 al mondo
  • Consegnata da nuova al leggendario attore di Hollywood, Clark Gable
  • Configurata da Gable con esclusivi dettagli ispirati alle corse
  • Sottoposta a uno straordinario lavoro di restauro e svelata al Concorso d’Eleganza di Villa d’Este nel 2016
  • Mantiene l’abbinamento dei numeri di carrozzeria, telaio e motore
  • Offerta per la prima volta in un’asta pubblica dopo 41 anni con un singolo proprietario
Please note this lot has entered the EU on a temporary import bond, which must be cancelled either by exporting the lot outside of the EU on an approved Bill of Lading with supporting customs documentation or by paying the applicable VAT and import duties to have the lot remain in the EU.

Questo lotto è entrato nell’UE con un vincolo di importazione temporanea che deve essere annullato esportandolo fuori dall’UE su una polizza di carico approvata con documentazione doganale di supporto o pagando l’IVA applicabile e i dazi di importazione per far rimanere il lotto nell’UE.

The Jaguar XK 120 is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cars ever created, and its popularity was further boosted by the model’s association with contemporary celebrities, the most famous of which was Clark Gable, the star of Gone with the Wind and many other major films. Despite passing away 62 years ago, Gable is still regarded as one of the greatest actors in film history and ordered this Jaguar during the twilight of his career.

Gable was a well-known fan of XK 120s as he is known to have owned at least two, and this is hardly surprising as William Lyons’ creation was the fastest production car in the world during an era of early post-war optimism. First registered “MDU 420”, chassis number 672282 was finished in the stunning colour combination of Battleship Grey over a Red interior and was delivered to during a much-publicised handover on the Cornish set of Never Let Me Go. Gable's love of sporting pursuits makes it fitting that his XK 120 boasted competition-inspired upgrades such as wire wheels and bonnet louvres, while a requirement for a custom luggage rack for his golf clubs was met by the factory.

During the next 18 months, Gable used “MDU 420’” to make journeys across the continent. One of these garnered the attention of the press as he toured with his rumoured fiancée, Suzanne Dadolle, making a very long trip to Rome via Paris, including a three-week stay at Villa d’Este. Upon discovering that Dadolle had spoken to the press about the engagement, he broke it off and returned with his XK 120 to the USA before the end of 1953.

Perhaps wishing to move on from the breakup, Gable sold his XK 120 soon after it was registered in California to Irving Robbins Jnr. Between 1954 and 1982 it is known that this XK 120 was exported to South Africa where eventually it was bought by a Swiss resident. Shortly after in 1982, it was purchased by the consignor’s father and enjoyed on the roads of St Gallen. By 2011 this XK 120’s age was catching up with it and the consignor contacted world-renowned Jaguar restorer Georg Donni, who discovered the significant early history and commenced a restoration. Donni conducted some research and its early life was revealed in its entirety. On the back of this revelation a full concours restoration commenced.

Today, “MDU 420” is presented as one of the finest XK 120s in existence thanks to a restoration that spanned nearly five years and cost over CHF 400,000, during which the originality of the matching-numbers body, chassis, engine was confirmed while the front offside wing was replaced with a carefully handcrafted panel due to a previous bad repair. It was returned to its stunning gloss Battleship Grey colour, while the interior was reupholstered in Red Connolly leather. This now presents as one of the most visually appealing XKs, correct with all of the features originally specified by Clark Gable.

The restoration was finished just in time for the 2016 edition of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este where its re-emergence from years of obscurity was greatly lauded. Entered into the class "Cars of the Stars – From the Silver Screen to the Studio Lot", it lost out to the ex-Steve McQueen Ferrari 275 GTB/4 (which will offered at the RM Sotheby’s 2023 Monterey auction). Since "MDU 420" returned to the scene of Clark Gable’s three-week stay, this wonderful Jaguar has been featured in magazine articles, with driving being limited to regular jaunts around Swiss roads on dry weekends. Remarkably, it still presents as well as it did at the 2016 Concorso d’Eleganza and its condition underneath the exterior is equally astonishing.

Despite being one of the most famous XK 120s in existence, “MDU 420” could easily be enjoyed on a long trip across the European continent, just like Clark Gable did, or admired on any concours lawn for its outstanding condition and incredible beauty. Few cars can claim to combine such charm, originality, condition and screen legend provenance, and “MDU 420” will forever be one of them.

La Jaguar XK 120 è considerata una delle auto più belle mai esistite e la sua popolarità è stata accresciuta dalla sua associazione con le celebrità del momento, la più importante delle quali fu Clark Gable. Sebbene sia morto 62 anni fa, Gable è ancora considerato uno dei più grandi attori nella storia del cinema.

Inizialmente targato “MDU 420”, il telaio 672282 sfoggiava una combinazione cromatica straordinaria con la vernice Battleship Grey (Grigio Nave da Guerra) e interni rossi. Gable fece configurare la sua XK 120 con dettagli ispirati alle corse, come le ruote a raggi e le prese d’aria sul cofano, mentre il portapacchi per le sue mazze da golf fu montato dalla fabbrica.

Per un anno e mezzo, Gable usò la Jaguar per viaggiare attraverso l’Europa. Uno di questi viaggi attrasse l’attenzione della stampa perché con lui c’era quella che si diceva fosse la sua fidanzata, Suzanne Dadolle. L’attore guidò fino a Roma passando da Parigi, fermandosi per tre settimane a Villa d’Este. Gable tornò negli Stati Uniti con la sua XK 120 entro la fine del 1953. Non appena la vettura ricevette la targa californiana, la cedette a Irving Robbins Jr.

Nel 1982, fu acquisita dal padre dell’attuale proprietario. Nel 2011, l’età della XK 120 cominciava a farsi sentire, cosicché fu interpellato il famoso restauratore di Jaguar, Georg Donni, che fece luce sui primi anni di vita della vettura e cominciò a mettervi mano.

Oggi, la vettura targa “MDU 420” è presentata come una delle più belle XK 120 esistenti, grazie a un lavoro di restauro durato quasi cinque anni e costato oltre 400 mila franchi svizzeri, durante il quale l’originalità dell’abbinamento dei numeri di carrozzeria, telaio e motore fu confermata. Il restauro terminò appena in tempo per l’edizione 2016 del Concorso d’Eleganza di Villa d’Este, dove la sua riapparizione dopo anni di oscurità fu molto applaudita.

Sebbene sia una delle più famose XK 120 esistenti, la “MDU 420” potrebbe ancora essere guidata con soddisfazione attraverso l’Europa, come fece Clark Gable, o ammirata sul prato di qualsiasi concorso d’eleganza per le sue perfette condizioni e la sua straordinaria bellezza. Poche auto possono vantare tali fascino, originalità, stato di conservazione e associazione con una stella del cinema come lei. La “MDU 420” sarà sempre una di queste.