From Hugh Hefner's BMW to Clark Gable's Jaguar.
Nothing adds value to a car like having a famous owner. It can take a decent car and add some value. It can take a great car, and make it even more valuable or make a legendary car priceless. It depends on the match between car and owner, and 2020 was a particularly great year for celebrity cars hitting the auction block.
This year cars from modern music and movie stars like Travis Barker and Will Smith appeared alongside vehicles owned by The King of Rock and Roll and the Queen of Jazz. Also sold were cars owned by the pioneer of soft pornography and The Great One. It was a mixed and interesting 12 months for celebrity car sales.
Being known just as Blink 182's drummer doesn't do Travis Barker justice. He's one of our greatest living drummers, and he loves his cars. Barker's custom 1960 Cadillac Coupe De Ville went on the block through Barrett-Jackson and is as clean and sharp as they come with its a 3-inch chopped roof, air-ride suspension, and shaved door handles.
However, the highlight of his collection (to us), is his custom 1972 Chevrolet K5 Blazer. It's lifted, rides on 35x12.50-inch tires, has a full roll cage, and is powered by an 8.6-liter LS3 V8. It's finished in a matte gunmetal gray and features, predictably, a massive sound system built using JL Audio speakers. In 2008, Barker was one of two survivors of a plane crash and was told he wouldn't play the drums again. Not only did he play drums again, but he built a separate business and bought this truck as part of his drive to spend as much quality time with his kids as possible.
There are two ways of looking at Hugh Hefner. On the one hand, he made a career out of exploiting women for professional gain, most famously Marylin Monroe. On the other hand, he was a staunch devotee of the first amendment and a key figure for promoting free speech for the decades he helmed Playboy Magazine. Both are correct, but whatever you think of him, he had taste in cars. This 1973 BMW 3.0 CS is not one of his flashiest, but it is a gem. It sold for $66,000 on Bring A Trailer, and the new owner has the documentation showing it was delivered directly to the Playboy Mansion.
The Fresh Prince's 1998 Bentley Continental T was one of just 14 RSE Continental T's made available on the US market. Under the hood is a turbocharged 6.8-liter V8 engine making 420 hp at 4,000 rpm and 645 lb-ft of creamy-smooth torque at 2,100 rpm. Since Smith owned it, the Bentley Continental T has a documented $40,000 worth of work done on it to bring it up to scratch. It sold via the Russo & Steele auction house, then popped up again the classified at Hemmings.
You don't get to own 100 percent of the cars you don't bid on. In this case, someone bid $511,000 and now gets to drive this 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition, complete with Gulf Oil-inspired livery and Wayne Gretzky's number 99 on the doors and hood. The Great One owned the GT for around seven years, but the 880 miles on the clock tell us he hardly drove it. Only 4,033 were produced in this generation's 2005 and 2006 model years, and only 343 Heritage editions were created in 2006. It's a rare car, and having Gretzky's name in the paperwork as the first owner makes it one of a kind if you're hockey fan.
It's not a ten-second car, but it's still an absolute stunner. At the very beginning of 2020, this 1995 BMW M3 E36 Lightweight was sold as part of the Paul Walker collection. He's most famous for the Japanese cars in the 'Fast and Furious' franchise, and the Porsche Carrera GT he died in, but Walker was a BMW fan. The 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight is a rare bird and as close to a race car you could get for the road in 1995. BMW never told how many were actually built, but it's generally known to be somewhere between 120 and 130. Walker's had 4,600 miles on it when it was sold for $385,000 at Barrett-Jackson's Scottsdale event.
Despite Elvis Presley owning one, the Mercedes-Benz 600 is mostly known for its history with psychopathic dictators. Presley picked up this silky piece of German engineering when he returned to the stage with his new backing band TCB (Taking Care of Business). The reason the initials TCB is all over the car is because Presley took it on as a personal motto.
Like many of his cars, Presley gave this one away to a member of his entourage named Jimmy Velvet. After Elvis died, Velvet took advantage of that friendship by amassing a collection and opening the Presley Museum. The Mercedes-Benz 600 was the main attraction. Later on, it was owned by the CEO of Dollar General, and we saw it go for $288,888 on Bring A Trailer. That's around twice as much as one in that condition would typically go for.
Carroll Shelby is best known for his work with Fords, but it's likely he had an interest in the Chrysler Airflow because it was an engineering marvel of its time. The Airflow is the model that Chrysler drove off a cliff then drove it away to prove its structural integrity. It was also designed in a wind tunnel to make it America's first scientifically aerodynamic streamlined car. This one has a Shelby vehicle authenticity certificate showing he bought it, but it's also believed that Shelby bought it from the Steve McQueen Imperial Palace auction of 1984.
Smokey And The Bandit didn't invent the car chase movie, but it is one of the biggest and starred the incomparable Burt Reynolds. Reynolds played Bandit, a driver whose job it was to run interference with the law on bootlegging runs so the truck full of beer could slip through. He owned several Bandit-style Pontiac Trans Ams following the movie's success, and one sold in 2020 for $172,000. There's no doubt to its authenticity as Reynolds also signed the hood and dashboard before the car first sold in 2015. The 2020 sale was made on Bring A Trailer and included a signed hat and jacket by Reynolds as well.
Clark Gable knew a great car when he saw it, and the Jaguar XK120 is one of the greatest of its time. That didn't stop the iconic movie star from sending this one, the first to land in the US, to Barris Kustoms to be refined to his taste. Barris Kustoms shaved the boot lid, the headlight trim, door mirrors, and turn-signal plinths. Barris Kustoms kept the original shape of the XK120 as it is a work of art, but small details like lowering the rear license plate show attention to detail and styling. A removable hardtop was also created and matched to the exterior as well as the red leather interior. Everything was brought back to Gable's spec during a restoration, including the original and legendary 3.4-liter XK six-cylinder engine. Gable's XK120 sold for $276,000 at Bring a Trailer.
The First Lady Of Song's audience was as diverse as her vocal range, which led her to sell over 40 million albums and win 13 Grammy awards. The depth and breadth of Ella Fitzgerald's talent reflect the depth and breadth of her influence on music, both during and following her 60-year career. Fitzgerald owned this 1959 Mercedes-Benz 300D for 37 years until her death in 1996 at age 79.
It's still as impeccable as Lady Ella's tone and diction and one of only 65 convertible versions of the luxury and elongated four-door cabriolet. It was ordered and customized by Fitzgerald in Blaugrau paint with a red leather interior, and a Becker Mexico radio. It has 90,000 miles, but few of them were with Fitzgerald behind the wheel as she preferred to be chauffeured.