Elvis Presley On Wheels
The King bought hundreds of cars, not all of them for himself.
Web2Carz Staff Writer
Published: August 16th, 2012
"He’s got all the cars he needs. Bought a hundred thousand dollars’ worth. Money ain’t nothing to him.”—Elvis Presley's uncle Travis Smith to journalist Stanley Booth, Memphis 1967
lvis Aaron Presley exited the world on August 16th, 1977. By 3:30 the King was “in God’s hands” (as his fellow Southern Baptists are wont to say) but he sure did leave behind a lot of things: about 15 bodyguards, 20 purebred horses, 5 enormous homes, an extended group of close friends, better known as “The Memphis Mafia”, enough jewelry and clothes to stock a fleet of retail stores from Memphis to Maine, and hundreds of cars, motorcycles, and tractors.
This week is “Elvis Week”, a hallowed time when fans from all over the world descend annually on the confines of Graceland-now a world famous museum- to commemorate the passing of one of the most beloved singers of all time and celebrate his legacy. It’s also an opportunity where Elvis devotees can view the very automobiles which brought him so much pleasure.
“Elvis liked anything with a motor (like most guys) and naturally had many cars,” said Graceland spokesman Kevin Kern. “And this year, as in years past, Elvis fans will have the opportunity to see his cars at The Elvis Presley Automobile Museum, located here at Graceland.”
In 1954 he was just a nineteen-year old truck-driver from the Memphis housing projects when he strolled through the doors of Sun Records with bandmates Scotty Moore and Bill Black to make records for Sam Phillips.
His first song to reach the national charts (and put money in his pockets) was a cover of [blues guitarist] Arthur Gunter’s “Baby, Let’s Play House,” known for its memorable lyric, “You may have a pink Cadillac but don’t you be nobody’s fool”.
And sure enough, the first car Elvis bought was a used pink and white ‘54 Cadillac- which guitarist Scotty Moore then crashed into an oncoming truck outside Texarkana after their appearance on The Louisiana Hayride. Luckily all parties escaped injury, except for Elvis’ beloved new Caddy which needed immediate replacement.
The next car was a brand new, blue and black 55 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60 which was painted pink days after the purchase. And while the car was meant to be a gift for Elvis’ mother Gladys Presley, she didn’t have a license and gave it back to her son to drive him and his bandmates to gigs around the south.
These days, that same pink Cadillac is on display at the museum along with 33 other vehicles including a purple Cadillac Eldorado, two of Elvis’ Rolls Royces, a 1975 Ferrari Dino, two Stutz Blackhawks, a Mercedes Benz limo that Elvis used at his California home and several other cars in the museum’s inventory that sometimes are switched in and out.
Presley also took great delight in gifting friends and family with brand new cars and it is estimated that Elvis purchased 200 cars for people other than himself.
That generosity, according to Kern even extended to complete strangers.
“There’s a famous story about Elvis going into Cadillac dealership and seeing an African-American woman eyeing a car that she couldn’t afford. Elvis anonymously paid for the car and sent her the keys. That’s the type of person he was.”