Elvis Presley's Cars | Cadillacs | Stutz Blackhawk | BMW | Rolls Royce
September 26, 2008
Billy Smith: I remember when Elvis got his driver's license. My daddy was working for Precision Tool. He was making fairly good money, and he had just bought a '51 Chevrolet, with a sunvisor and all. Elvis wanted to borrow it to take his driver's test, and my daddy let him have it.
When he went to take his test, we all went. Elvis was sitting in the front with Daddy and Vernon. Very seldom did he ever say anything dirty in front of them. But a guy pulled out in front of daddy, and Elvis yelled, 'Watch where you're going, you son of a bitch!' We were all shocked, you know. The car got real quiet. 'hat year, Elvis won the Safe Driving Award at school.
Joe Esposito: Elvis had a lot of cars. The first thing that attracted him was the looks of the car. He didn't care if it was a $5,000 car or a $50,000 car or what brand it was, although he was very partial to American-made cars. He really liked Cadillacs and Lincolns, also some Chryslers. We bought a few foreign cars like the Rolls Royce because it was very prestigious and looked great, a Mercedes limousine and a Ferrari, but mostly his cars were American-made. He was very patriotic when it came to that.
If Elvis saw a car he liked in the window, he'd stop and buy it. That was basically it. If the dealership was closed and we knew the owner, we'd call and wake him up. We'd say, 'Listen, Elvis wants to buy this car'. Naturally the guy would meet us there, because if he didn't, Elvis would say, 'Well, we'll find someplace else'.
In early March, 1955 Elvis bought his first Pink Cadillac.
It was a pink and white 1954 Cadillac and provided transportation for Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys for about three months. The car went up in smoke when a brake lining caught fire, on the road between Hope and Texarkana, Ark. on June 5, 1955. 'The first car I bought was the most beautiful car I've ever seen. It was second hand but I parked it outside my hotel the day I got it and stayed up all night just looking at it. The next day, it caught fire and burned up on the road...' Elvis Presley
Elvis' 1954 pink and white Cadillac - Hope and Texarkana, Ark. June 5, 1955.
After a show at Hope, AR. Coliseum in Fair Park, Elvis set off for Texarkana with a girl from that town, while Scotty Moore and Bill Black traveled with other friends. About halfway to Texarkana, in Fulton, Arkansas, Elvis' pink--and--white Cadillac caught on fire and burnt to a wreck. It is said that Elvis' mother, Gladys, was awakened out of a sound sleep at home by the feeling that something was wrong. Others recall Elvis sitting by the side of the road, looking desolate as he watched his dreams go up in smoke. From Texarkana Scotty returned to Memphis to get the new pink and white Ford Crown Victoria that Elvis has recently purchased for his parents, while Elvis and Bill took a plane to Texas.
The Pink Cadillac | Fleetwood Series 60
On July 7, 1955 Elvis purchased his second Pink Cadillac, to replace the Cadillac that was burned. This was a new 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60 in blue with black roof. Elvis had the car repainted by a neighbour who designed a pink colour for Elvis and named the colour 'Elvis Rose'. This is the one that he gave to his mother, probably the most famous car in the world.
Gladys Presley would always proudly point to it as 'her' car. Gladys Presley never had a driver's license and Elvis drove the car with the members of his band for most of 1955 - 1956.
Elvis, Scotty and Bill had a serious accident in Texarkana, Texas on September 2, 1955. Scotty Moore drove the Cadillac into an oncoming vehicle that was in the process of passing a pickup truck. Scotty recalls the Cadillac as requiring approximately $1,000 worth of repairs.
In February 1956, Elvis had the upholstery replaced as well as getting some paint work done. most likely, this would have been when the black roof was painted white.
Read more about Elvis Presley's Famous 1955 Pink Cadillac
(Some of) Elvis Presley's Cars
1954 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine
Elvis bought a 1954 Fleetwood Limousine just before going on a tour in it in March 1956. Originally blue, he had it painted yellow. In the spring of 1957, Elvis moved to Graceland, and this vehicle was used to stock the grounds. One time it was used to haul fowl - chickens, ducks, guineas, peacocks and a turkey back to Graceland. The car was left in such a mess that even after he sent it to the Cadillac dealer to be cleaned and fumigated, it was never the same. Elvis told his Daddy it was time to buy a new car.
Messerschmitt | June, 1956
In Mid-August 1957, Elvis traded this Messerschmitt for a two-and-a-half hour shopping spree at Lansky Brothers' clothing store on Beale Street in Memphis.
Elvis with his Messerschmitt - June, 1956.
- Read more about Elvis' Messerschmitt
1956 Cadillac Eldorado
Elvis and June Juanico flew to Houston to purchase this car on June 12, 1956 at a cost of $10,000. Originally white with a black interior, Elvis squashed a handful of grapes on the fender and told the customiser, Jimmy Sanders of Memphis (who also customised the pink '55 Fleetwood), that was the colour he wanted. The upholstery was changed to white roll and pleated leather, and the floor covered in mouton fur dyed purple. Elvis' initials 'EP' entwined with a guitar and two musical notes inscribed in leather adorned the floor mats and overhead. Elvis traded it in on December 23rd 1957.
June Juanico and Elvis' 1956 Cadillac Eldorado.
Also in 1956, Elvis bought a 1956 wisteria-and-white Lincoln Premiere hardtop coupe and a white 1956 Continental Mark II. Elvis also bought a 1958 black Cadillac Limousine.
Elvis' Two, BMW 507s
Elvis first car in Germany was an old Volkswagen which he eventually gave to his German karate instructor.
On December 21 1958, Elvis leased a BMW 507 from BMW Glöckler. The car was a 'used' one and Elvis knew this, formerly driven by racing ace Hans Stuck. Elvis was assured by Mr Glöckler that 'the car was very well run in by Mr Stuck'. Stuck had raced the car in several sports car events, but the engine was modified for Elvis to use on a daily basis. (So the car was quite special).
The price seemed very reasonable - the equivalent of $3,750 USD, instead of $7,160 for a brand new one. Not understanding the contract written in German Elvis thought he was buying the car. But no, he later learned it was only on lease and had to be returned when he left Germany. In August 1959 Elvis swapped the white sports car at BMW Glöckler for a red 507 which he drove until October 1959.
Read more about Elvis' BMW 507's + lots of photos
1960 Lincoln Continental Mark 5
This 1960 Lincoln Continental Mark 5 automobile was specially ordered by Elvis in the summer of 1959 while in the Army and stationed in Germany. The Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company sent one of the very first 1960 Lincolns, serial #32, to Hess and Eisenhardt to be customized for Elvis. They were the world famous company who built the Lincoln X-100 limousine which Kennedy was assassinated in. This auto is equipped with every available option including rear power privacy glass, and two separate units for front and rear air-conditioning. After 5 years Elvis gave the car to Alan Fortas an original member of the Memphis Mafia.
Rolls Royce Phantom V
In January 1961, Elvis signed a 5 year contract with Hal Wallis. To celebrate he went out and bought a Rolls Royce Phantom V from a Beverly Hills dealer only to bring it home and have his mothers' chickens peck away at their reflections in the elegant finish. Most people would have just shot the birds but Elvis just chose to have the car repainted four or five times.
Elvis with his Rolls Royce in front of Graceland.
1960 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine
This vehicle is the ultimate in luxury and opulence. Costing $100,000, it was customised by George Barris with gold plated interior gadgets such as a phone, shoe buffer, refrigerator, entertainment console with a ten record automatic changer RCA record player, swivel TV and tape deck. Forty coats of exterior paint made with pearl, diamond dust and oriental fish scales were used on the outside. Hubcaps, wheel covers, headlight rims and the front grille are gold plated in 24kt gold. Gold lame drapes were used to cover the back windows and to separate the front and back seats. Truly a vehicle fit for a King!
Elvis used it occasionally in the early 60's but towards the end of 1966, Colonel Tom Parker talked RCA into buying it for $24,000 as a promotional tool. The car tour (which included Australia in 1968) was a great success. In Houston, 40,000 came to take a look and take home a free 'Elvis Presley's Gold Car' postcard. In Atlanta, the car was the guest of honour at a dinner for 250 dignitaries. In the late 70's the car was donated to the Country Music Association Hall of Fame in Nashville. When you press a button, the roof lifts off so you can see inside it. Read the full story of the cars Australian tour.
1962 Ford Thunderbird
In 1962 Elvis purchased a Ford Thunderbird.
Salesman Ernie Barrasso :'Elvis and I grew up in the same blue-collar neighbourhood', 'and although we went to different schools, we knew one another. I thought he was a little on the freaky side because of his long hair and the way he dressed. But he was always a nice person and we got along'.
Barrasso still remembers the day the Ford Thunderbird convertible was delivered to Memphis. 'They made only 200 of these particular cars, and we got one of them because we were such a large dealership. It was a unique car - red with a black interior and a movable steering column that broke to the right. A friend of mine saw it and said, 'I'll bet Elvis would buy that car'.
Barrasso made three trips to Graceland to tell Elvis about the sporty-looking Thunderbird. 'One Sunday, I left a brochure, and the next day he drove down in his Cadillac and asked to see the car, which was on the showroom floor. The wire wheels caught his eye immediately. As I was showing him the breakaway steering wheel, he asked how much?
'Sixty-one hundred', I said.
'I'll take it', he said.
Elvis wanted the car in 15 minutes, and a crowd gathered while they got it ready.
When Elvis drove off in the Thunderbird, he said, 'I'll send somebody to pick up the Cadillac'. Elvis paid $6,284 for the 1962 8-cylinder sport roadster T-bird.
Barrasso says, 'Selling that car was the thrill of my life, but it turned out to be an unhappy experience for Elvis'. The Wire Wheels were associated with service problems and bad publicity from the very beginning, with complaints from customers about flat tires on their Roadsters due to slow air leaks.
A couple of days after the sale, Elvis flew to Hollywood to make a movie. Two employees were assigned to drive the car out. Along the way they discovered some of the wires on the fancy wire wheel covers had come loose and were knocking against the car. They needed replacing, but the company that made them had gone out of business. So, plain, ordinary wheels were substituted.
When Elvis saw that the spiffy wire wheels were missing and couldn't be replaced, he called Detroit and demanded to talk to 'Mr. Ford'. When Edsel Ford heard the story, he told Elvis to return the car to the nearest dealer and he'd get his money back. 'I was disappointed,' admits Barrasso, 'but after the problem with the wheels, Elvis was never comfortable with the car. I just wish I'd had the money to buy it back'.
Read the full story about Elvis' Ford Thunderbird
1964 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood Limousine
1967 Lincoln Executive Limousine
Above, Elvis admires the 1967 Lincoln Executive Limousine given to him by Colonel Tom Parker.
Elvis purchased this 1969 six-door Mercedes-Benz 600 on April 6, 1970.
The Mercedes-Benz 600 was a large luxury automobile, intended to represent the absolute pinnacle of automobile engineering. When introduced in September, 1963, it had few competitors, except Rolls-Royce and some US-made limousines. It was intended to be driven primarily by a chauffeur, not the owner, thus a power divider window separating the front seats from the rear bench seat was available.
Elvis in his Mercedes-Benz 600 - Los Angeles - November 12, 1970.
Elvis in his Mercedes-Benz 600 - 1174 Hillcrest Ave., Beverly Hills, CA.
Elvis' Stutz Blackhawk's
Among many of Elvis Presley's prized cars was his Stutz Blackhawk's. Elvis was the first in America to own a Stutz, and probably his favourite car of the '70s was his 1973 Stutz Blackhawk III. It is said that Elvis claimed five of them. Although we count 4 as being owned and driven by Elvis.
Elvis' first Stutz Blackhawk was in fact a pre-production prototype, the second of such made. The first prototype was made in 1969 (View photos of first prototype) The most significant detail of the prototypes was the big rear-window. Only the two prototypes had the large size rear window.
Elvis purchased this Stutz Blackhawk on October 9, 1970.
Jules Meyers: Elvis wanted to have the car, I told Elvis that there was a car show, in a couple of days, and that I would need the car for that. It was O.K. with Elvis, so the car was sold. Elvis also agreed to take some press-pictures with him and the car - good for publicity. Frank Sinatra was also interested in the car, but Sinatra would not agree to any pictures of the Stutz being taken with him and he would not agree to the car being displayed at the car-show. So it was obviously the better decision to sell the to Elvis Presley.
Elvis' First Stutz Blackhawk
Unfortunately, this first Blackhawk car was involved in an accident, and the front was heavily damaged... Elvis sent it out to be washed one day, and it ended up in a wreck. After that, he just put it in storage. The Estate finally restored it. Mr. O'Donnell, the founder of the new Stutz company helped to restore the car. But being a prototype original parts were not available so the radiator grill and the front lights fitted are not original. As this car was a prototype we don't consider it a '1971' model.
Elvis' 1971 Stutz Blackhawk - Production Model
Elvis purchased his second Blackhawk, this time a production model on September 8, 1971. This car was delivered to Elvis on September 9, 1971 at his 144 Monavale Street, Beverly Hills home.
Elvis' 1972 Stutz Blackhawk
In April of 1973, Elvis made a surprise visit to the Pontiac Dealership from whom he had purchased his first Black Stutz Blackhawk, back in 1970. He saw the new Pearl White Stutz displayed in the showroom window...they proudly showed Elvis the Stutz that was on display. Elvis placed an order for the car, that would be imported from Italy and delivered later that year to his Holmby Hills estate in Los Angeles.
Elvis' 1973 Stutz Blackhawk
The most famous Elvis Stutz is the 230 HP, 1973 Stutz Blackhawk III purchased by Elvis on September, 6, 1974. This Stutz was very unique because it had a red leather interior with 18-karat gold-plated trim.
The last known photograph of Elvis was taken as he was driving though the Graceland Gates in his 1973 Stutz Blackhawk III shortly after midnight on August 16, 1977, from a late-night visit to the dentist.
Read the full story about Elvis Presley's Stutz Blackhawk's
Elvis' 1971 De Tomaso Pantera
The car Elvis shot! Elvis' purchased this 1971 yellow De Tomaso Pantera sports car in 1974 for $2,400 as a gift to then-girlfriend Linda Thompson.
George Klein was at Graceland one afternoon and commented on the Pantera sitting around in the back driveway. He asked Elvis about it and Elvis was apparently annoyed at the car at the time. It had quit on him driving in Memphis and he had someone pick him up and drive him back to Graceland, and left the car on the side of the road. One of his men had the car towed and when Elvis saw the car he made them take it back out there, but they eventually brought it back and put it in the back driveway. They were unable to get it started again ... Now ... as Elvis is standing there relating this story to George Klein he pulls out a handgun and shoots the car ... and it starts up and runs. (Thanks to George Klein for help with this story.)
Elvis' 1975 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4
Elvis also owned a 1975 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4, purchased second hand in October 1976 on a payment plan with one instalment at $20,583. This car is currently on display at Graceland.
Elvis' 1977 Cadillac Seville
This 1977 Cadillac Seville, two-tone burgundy and silver with white leather interior was the last Cadillac that Elvis ever purchased. Today the car is owned by Greg Page.
Elvis Presley's Famous Pink Cadillac | 1955 Fleetwood Series 60
Elvis with his Messerschmitt | June, 1956
Elvis Presley driving his Pink Cadillac : July 5, 1956
Isetta Sports Car (Elvis gave to Colonel Parker as a birthday present)
Elvis' BMW 507's | Germany 1958-1959
Elvis' 1962 Ford Thunderbird
Elvis at Graceland in his 1964 Cadillac Limousine : March 1965
Elvis Presley's Stutz Blackhawk's
Elvis driving his first Stutz Blackhawk | Hillcrest Beverley Hills | October 9, 1970
Elvis' Stutz Blackhawk Prototype (Prototype #2)
Demonstrating the repairs to Elvis' first Stutz Blackhawk
Elvis' 1971 Stutz Blackhawk
Elvis' 1972 Pearl White Stutz Blackhawk
Elvis' De Tomaso Pantera
Pantera was fit for 'The King' Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley's 1968 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe
Other Elvis Toys on Wheels;
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Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
This is an excellent release no fan should be without it.
The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.