Cadillacs that Elvis gave away

Elvis's generosity, especially in giving gifts of automobiles to friends, family, associates and complete strangers was legendary, as was his preference for Cadillac cars. Sometimes he would test drive them himself for a few days before giving them away.

Probably one of the earliest occasions Elvis gave a Cadillac away was when he gave a 1954 convertible to Sam Phillips of Sun Records in late 1955.

 

Click on the thumbnails to view in full size.



At the October 1999 Hershey meet in Pennsylvania was a maroon red 1959 Coupe de Ville with black and white interior. Documentation with the car showed Elvis's name as the purchaser, and it was one of 14 "give away" cars for charity, selling immediately for approximately $20,000 and shipped by Horseless Carriage to Tokyo. It is most unlikely that Elvis used this car himself (he was in Germany with the US Army in 1959), and in fact the seller claimed it was a gift for Elvis's bank manager. Two more pictures here and here.

During Elvis's courtship to Priscilla, (apart from various other cars) he gave her a black Cadillac Eldorado.

Ed Parker, Elvis's karate instructor received a Cadillac as a gift from Elvis.

In 1965 Elvis gave Sonny West a 1963 Cadillac, who later received a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado.

At Christmas time 1965 Elvis gave his friend Marty Lacker a white 1960 Cadillac.

Whilst in LA in 1966 Elvis bought a black Cadillac convertible for bodyguard Sonny West. He also bought himself a black Cadillac convertible, a black Eldorado convertible for bodyguard Red West, and a white Cadillac convertible each for friends Alan Fortas, Jerry Schilling and Richard Davis his valet. Larry Geller, Elvis's hair stylist was the recipient of a black convertible. Marty Lacker received a Cadillac sedan and right hand man Joe Esposito a maroon Cadillac convertible.

During the filming of Easy Come Easy Go in 1967, Elvis bought actor Pat Harrington a maroon Cadillac.

At Xmas time 1967, Elvis bought his wife Priscilla a Cadillac Fleetwood limousine (presumably a 1968 model). He also bought his friend George Klein a brand new 1968 Cadillac.

In July 1973 Elvis spent $200,000 on 29 cars in a week and a half, many of them Cadillacs. Sonny West received a 1973 Eldorado black on black Eldorado.


Elvis's Tae Kwon Do instructor, Kang Rhee was the recipient of the 1973 triple white Eldorado coupe pictured, which had a plaque on the dash that read "To Master Kang Rhee from Elvis Presley." The lady with Kang Rhee's Cadillac is well known DJ Jackie Owens. Click here for a picture of Elvis, Kang Rhee and the Caddy.


On 23rd September 1974 Elvis bought five Cadillacs from Madison Cadillac in Memphis, including one for Vester Presley (see below), Gee Gee Gamble (his cousin's husband and also one of his aides), Mrs Barbara Klein and an Eldorado for Sonny West.


In September 1974, Elvis bought his Uncle Vester a gold Coupe de Ville with black top (pictured left). Here is a picture of it from Uncle Vester's book. Not long after that, salesman Bob Brown gave Elvis a plaque for being the "World's Best Car Buyer". Inscribed were the names of 31 people to whom Elvis had given a car. In August 2003 this car was advertised on ebay with the following details: "VIN 6D47S5Q101075. The Cadillac was purchased on September 26, 1974 from Madison Cadillac in Memphis, TN. We have all original documentation (including original title, paperwork from Madison Cadillac, Graceland letterhead stating purchase of car for Vester Presley, and original pictures of Vester with car at Graceland). We also have affidavit stating that the dent on the left front fender was from where Vester shot off his gun while staying at Graceland. I am the 4th owner, we have all previous bill of sales on file. Car has 37,039 original miles, interior/exterior good condition, runs and drives excellent. For any further Information or question please contact Danny Davis at (706) 327-1470 after 6pm EST." Bidding reached $3,000 (below the reserve price) and did not sell.

More pictures: interior, front, left side, rear, engine, speedo, bullet mark


On 17th January 1975, he bought 11 Cadillacs from Madison Cadillac.


On 27th July 1975 Elvis set a record for himself as well as for Madison Cadillac, where he had been buying Cadillacs for twenty years. He spent $140,000 buying fourteen Cadillacs for friends, family and a stranger. Mrs Mennie L. Person a bank teller of 1868 Meadowhill was "just looking," admiring Elvis's custom made limousine when Elvis appeared and asked her if she liked it. He said "That one's mine but I'll buy you one." He escorted her to the showroom and said "Pick one out". She chose a gold and white 1975 $11,500 Eldorado (pictured). Another picture is here.
 

This 1975 Fleetwood Brougham was a gift to the infamous Dr Nick. It has been shown through Europe, this photo being taken in Sweden in 1989


Elvis purchased this 1975 Cadillac Seville for Colonel Parker at Jack Kent Cadillac in Denver. It is blue with a blue interior and has a Tennessee license plate that reads "Admiral." It was auctioned by Guernseys October 7th-8th 1999 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas for $93,750.

In August 1975 Elvis gave his friend Marty Lacker a burnt orange coloured 1976 Cadillac. One time, Joe Esposito was given a white on white Eldorado convertible, and on another occasion a brand new Seville.

When Elvis's Dad Vernon separated from his wife second Dee in 1975, she received a baby blue Cadillac Eldorado convertible with white upholstery from her estranged husband.


A picture taken in 1978 of Elvis's dad, Vernon at the wheel of a silver with red interior Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham (probably a 75-76 model) that Elvis bought him.


In January 1976 whilst skiing in Vail, Colorado, Elvis went on another car buying spree. At 2am on January 14th he purchased from Jack Kent Cadillac Inc of Denver, Cadillacs for Det. Ronald Pietrafeso, Det. Jerry Kennedy, Bob Cantwell, Linda Thompson (Elvis's girlfriend), Sonny West's wife (a 1976 Cadillac Seville, white with baby blue interior and baby blue top), Red West's girlfriend, Joe Esposito's girlfriend (Shirley Dieu) and Colonel Parker. Before he left Colorado, while watching the television news, Elvis saw one of the local anchormen on NBC, Don Kinney report on the car-buying he had done, then look into the camera and say, "Elvis...if you're watching, I wouldn't mind getting a car, too." Elvis had a new blue Cadillac Seville delivered to the station the following day. This vehicle, with plate number SN 3726 was on display in the Forney Museum of Transportation in Denver.

This green Eldorado serial number 6L47S6Q188385 was one of the above-mentioned vehicles, purchased for Shirley Dieu. Shirley explains: "Elvis tried to get me a white Eldorado but they could not locate one, so he told them to give me another one until they got a white one in. They (the dealership) called me about three months later and asked me if I would accept a baby blue one. I said yes and they actually drove it out to me. I was living with Joe Esposito at the time. The night, actually morning that he gave me the car will always be remembered. I still have the set of gold keys that he gave me with the car as well as the gold emblem that I never put on the hood. I hope that the car is in a museum or somewhere so that it is not rotting away. Let me know where you find it if you do. Thanks."

On May 19th 1977 Jack Kent Cadillac Inc resold the green car to Mr Mohler of Denver together with a letter of verification and a copy of Elvis's check for $44,349.98 which Elvis signed upon purchasing this car along with the other two. On the side of the check are the names Linda Thompson, Shirley Dieu and Ron Pietrafeso. See copy of this document here. After Elvis passed away later in 1977, Mr Mohler sold the car at auction and received between $16,000 and $17,000 for it. For many years it was owned by Howard Brandon of Murray, Kentucky and was in the George Jones Car Museum in Nashville. In late 1997 it was for sale at the museum for $14,500 and advertised early in 1998 in Hemmings magazine. The car was auctioned again at Nashville on December 12, 1998, together with a copy of the check. Also with the car was an Elvis Presley display and an original manuscript from the movie "Jailhouse Rock" dated 1957 with markings on

specific pages made by the King himself. The sale price was $28,500. Anybody know where the car is now? Please email me.

Update on the 1977 baby blue Eldorado that replaced the green one Shirley Dieu got in Denver in January 1976. Here is the story, as told by Shirley Dieu and Joe Esposito to Dianne Rojeski of King Productions in Fresno, CA in a video she filmed with them in Las Vegas.

Shirley took the 1976 green Eldorado from the dealership as a “placeholder” since she really wanted a white one. The dealership contacted her in California and said they had not been able to locate a white one, but did have a beautiful baby blue 1977 they could get her. Joe called Elvis to see if that trade was okay and Elvis said if Shirley wanted the blue one, to get it for her and have them bill him for the difference. Elvis paid the difference (which was around $1,300) on April 26, 1977. That would make this the last Cadillac Elvis bought in his lifetime! Joe and Shirley also recounted Elvis visiting them and being excited to see Shirley with the blue Eldorado since he knew that was more what she really wanted. They also drove around with Elvis in the front seat, and while they were heading down Santa Monica Blvd., Elvis saw a tan Eldorado parked at a gas station with a “For Sale” sign and Elvis asked Joe if he wanted it. Joe and Shirley laughed and told Elvis they didn’t need it because Joe already had a white, convertible Eldorado Elvis had given him and with the tandem parking at their place, two Eldorados were plenty!

This Cadillac Eldorado is now owned by Jeremy Pearce and it is part of his personal Elvis collection that he shares with fans through his company, King

Productions. See Jeremy Pearce's website with photos of and the story behind this car.


See the Transfer of Title that Joe Esposito submitted registering the baby blue Eldorado to the Graceland address. Note it shows the difference between the cost of the blue one and the trade in value of the green one which is the amount Elvis paid and the date of purchase as 4/26/77.

Shirley was re-united with this car in October 2010. See the picture of her with Jeremy in his Elvis attire in it.


Email me especially if you have pictures or information to add to this page. Thank you very much.


Acknowledgements: Thank you to Jackie Owens, Jeremy Scot Larkins, Conny Tornkrantz, Joe Esposito, Marty Lacker, Andrew Gross, Doc Livingston, Kimberly Busick, Dirk Van Dorst, Burl Fugate, Andre Arseneault, Mark Kuykendall, Shirley Dieu, Jennifer Hodge, Chris Sabatino and Dianne Rojeski for some of the above information and photos.

Note: If some of the information above is slightly different to what you may have read somewhere else, it's because different sources sometimes have differing versions. I have used what I believe to be the most reliable version.
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