From pink Cadillacs to Blackhawks, the King had unique and distinguished automotive tastes.
Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n Roll, was a big car guy. Not only did he have an extensive car collection, he also habitually gave away and bought cars for friends, family, acquaintances, and even total strangers. Cadillacs and Lincolns, those emblems of achievement, were his favorites, but Elvis also had an eye for the luxurious and original cars. Below we run through some of the King’s favorite cars (and at least one not-so-favorite).
The most famous of all Elvis Presley cars is undoubtedly his pink 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood, which he’d bought second-hand to transport his band around the American south. Illustrative of Elvis’ love of his new car, he said, “I parked it outside my hotel the day I got it and stayed up all night just looking at it.” Somewhere between Hope and Texarkana, Arkansas the car began suffering from brake issues, supposedly the brake lines caught fire and the car burned on the roadside.
So, what did Elvis do? Went out and bought another, this time a blue 1955 Fleetwood. He had the car repainted by a neighbor, who fashioned his own shade of pink for the car he dubbed “Elvis Rose.” This car he gifted to his mother Gladys Presley (despite the fact his mother didn’t have a driver’s license).
Easily the oddest car in Elvis’ collection was a Messerschmitt KR200. You might remember the name from your history classes as Messerschmitt was famously the manufacturer of German fighter planes. After WWII, the company was barred from making planes and instead began producing microcars like the KR200. The KR200 (Kabinenroller or cabin scooter) was a funky number with a bubble top and a motorcycle engine. And you thought the BMW Isetta was weird.
Speaking of BMWs. Elvis clearly had good taste as evidenced by his purchase of a BMW 507. The 507 is famous for being BMW’s 1950s halo car as the company was trying to re-establish itself in post WWII Germany. The 507 was a great car and also greatly expensive to manufacture, ultimately proving a money loser for BMW and nearly sinking the company.
When celebrity serviceman Elvis was stationed in Germany, he bought himself a BMW 507 to tool around in. Or at least he thought he bought it. The German purchase agreement turned out to be a lease. Elvis not only purchased the car, but had the engine replaced with a small V8 and, after the white paint job was marked up by a girlfriend’s lipstick, he had it repainted red. Following his stint in Germany, Elvis had the car shipped back to the States.
Elvis had a thing for Cadillacs, but his second automotive love was for Lincolns. What might have been his favorite car of all was a 1956 Lincoln Continental Mk II. It was the car he kept the longest, until his death in 1977, while he often gave away cars after a year or two of ownership. The Mk II was the most expensive, top-of-the-line Lincoln of its day. Elvis also owned a 1960 Continental Mk V. This particular car was a coach-built limo, with a stretched backseat, a privacy glass divider, and dual AC.
The Stutz Blackhawk was arguably the most luxurious car of the 1970s. Which is odd to say of a car based off the Pontiac Grand Prix, but it’s true. The Blackhawk was famous for its luxury features like 24-karat gold plating, sumptuous leather upholstery, and interior wood trim. The Stutz Blackhawk rang up to $26,500 at a time when even Rolls-Royces were priced for less.
Elvis Presley has the distinction of buying the very first Stutz Blackhawk. Unfortunately, that car ended up getting in a wreck when it was taken for a wash. The car went into storage and was eventually restored decades later.
To replace his smashed Blackhawk, Elvis bought another one, a production version from the 1971 model year. He liked it so much he bought yet another in 1973, a Blackhawk III he ordered with red leather interior and extensive gold plating. This car has the grim distinction of being the one Elvis was driving when the last picture of him was taken, reportedly on the way to a late-night dental appointment.
The Mercedes-Benz 600 was another prime luxury vehicle in it’s day, popular with rock stars and the world’s dictators. The 600 is renowned for its unrivaled air-suspension, stout 6.3L V8, and opulent touches like curtains, AC, and a power sunroof. Elvis reportedly owned not one but two Mercedes-Benz 600s, one for his home in Los Angeles and another for Graceland in Memphis, TN.
Elvis seems to have loved many of the above cars. One he didn’t was the De Tomaso Pantera he bought second hand for his girlfriend Linda Thompson. The car had a habit of breaking down and once left the King stranded on the side of the road. After having the car towed back home and left to sit behind the house, Elvis, in the course of recounting his frustrations to friend George Klein, pulled out a pistol and shot the car (and you thought it was just TVs?). The car was later sold, unrepaired and still resides in a private collection, bullet holes and all.
Elvis Presley owned many more notable cars, including cars like a Ferrari Dino 308, GT40, a ’56 Cadillac Eldorado, and a coach-built ’74 Cadillac De Ville station wagon to name just a few. Many of these cars still reside at the Graceland Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.