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.
Californian Cadillac restorer Chris Sabatino advises that in 1996 he came upon a 1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville sitting in a driveway, made an offer and got it for $3,250. It was in a mess, and he restored it. The car had a plaque in the glove box that stated the car was made exclusively for xxx (he can't recall the name but it was a back up singer from Elvis's band the Jordanaires). Later Chris sold the Cadillac to a casino for $17,500. Some more pictures of that car here and here.
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.
Elvis's close friend and guitarist Charlie Hodge (deceased 3rd March 2006) had a 1976 Cadillac Seville that Elvis gave him. The car is light green in colour and all original, needing a little TLC. The picture shows Charlie pulling out of the gates at Graceland, taken either late 1975, 1976 or 1977.
Thank you very much to Charlie's wife Jennifer who has provided the following information (July 2006): "Charlie really didn't have a special story about his green 1976 Cadillac Seville (Fisher body). He just always said that Elvis would keep giving Charlie's cars away to people spontaneously, and kept giving him a new one to replace the one he had. Everyone got Charlie's left overs I guess. Charlie said he didn't mind because he kept getting a new car. Elvis gave Charlie so many different cars over a 17 year period. One reason is that Charlie lived at Graceland from the time they got out of the army up to the day Elvis died, so Charlie was always around, and Elvis gave cars away like candy. Both Elvis and Charlie knew that his car could be given away at any time. One time Elvis made Charlie sell his T-bird to one of the guys in the band for five dollars. Then, of course, Elvis bought him something else. Charlie said out of all the cars that Elvis gave him, by far his favourite was a blue mid to late 1970's 280SL Mercedes. Charlie, up till his last days swore that he loved that car the most. He said he thought it was classy. I think he really liked it because it wasn't too big for him. Charlie was 5 foot 3 inches, so most cars were too big for him. According to Charlie, one time he was driving up to where Elvis was standing and Elvis was laughing, saying "Charlie, we have to get you a different car. I can't even see you behind the steering wheel." Charlie always smiled and laughed when he told that story. In the last several years I think Charlie had shrunk even more because he had to have a cushion in his driver's seat so he could see over the dash board. I thought it was comical because it reminded me of his story of Elvis laughing at him. I think since Elvis passed, his green Cadillac became a keep-sake to remind him of Elvis and their friendship. The Cadillac still sits in our garage, and I plan on getting it fully restored."
Another picture of Charlie with the Cadillac at Whitehaven Cinema, Memphis, Tennessee, August 1983, here, and a picture of Charlie and the Caddy across the street from Graceland here.
Elvis's dentist, Dr Lester Hoffman was also given a 1976 Cadillac Seville from Elvis. This was advertised in the Phoenix Auto Trader, May 1998 as being in perfect condition, 50,000 miles and for sale at $55,000. VIN number of this car is 6S69R6Q456183 and it is currently owned by Mark Kuykendall of Sevierville TN. Mark also owns the first limo that Elvis bought new, a 1960 Lincoln, and the last jet that Elvis owned before he died, a Lockheed Jetstar.
In December 1976 Elvis bought his new girlfriend, Ginger Alden a Cadillac Seville. His jeweller, Lowell Hays received a 1977 Seville, which in 1980 was used as a promotional vehicle by an auto store in New Hope, PA.
During the 14 years that Mary Jenkins, Elvis's maid and later cook, worked for him, she received gifts of 6 cars, including 3 Cadillacs, and one for her friend and "play brother" Willie.
Jerry Schilling, Elvis's friend and assistant stated that over the years he received three Cadillacs from Elvis.
One of Elvis's back up vocalists, Myrna Smith of the Sweet Inspirations was presented with a brand new Glacial Blue 1975 Cadillac Eldorado and bore the plates LDY BLU (Lady Blue). This car was bought from Myrna by Peter Lembo of Boston, Massachusetts, who had it shipped from California to Boston. When registered in Massachusetts it bore the plates ELVIS 9. Peter later sold it to Fred Bramante of Durham, NH in 1991 for about $10,000 (the same amount the King paid when new). It was restored over a 2 and a half year period up to July 2001 by the inmates of the New Hampshire State Prison. The car now resides inside the theatre at Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire (part of the Matt Lewis Tribute Show).
From 6th-8th August 1999 an Elvis Festival was held in Tupelo. Events included a Cadillac give-away.
Email me especially if you have pictures or information to add to this page. Thank you very much.