Elvis Presley’s love affair with exotic, luxurious and sporting cars is well documented. The Memphis native was one of the world’s highest paid entertainers and a pop culture icon unlike any other. His pioneering rock ‘n’ roll style and commercial success not only paved the way for generations of musical trendsetters but also afforded him a lavish lifestyle of unprecedented wealth.
After hitting it big in the mid-1950s and making history with his gyrations to “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Hound Dog” on live television, Presley was commonly referred to as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. In early 1958, he was drafted for service into the US Army and after completing basic training later that year was posted in Friedberg, Germany, where he remained until 1960. By this time, of course, he was an international rock star, pursued by the media and screaming fans alike.
While in Germany, he drove a white BMW 507, which he leased directly from Glöckler. At various points in his life he also owned a Rolls-Royce, a Ferrari, and a DeTomaso Pantera, which he apparently shot with a gun after it wouldn’t start. The King was known for having a particular affinity for American luxury cars, Cadillacs and Lincolns included.
This particular Mark V Limousine was no exception. Presley ordered the car from Lincoln while stationed in Germany in summer 1959. Serial no. 32, it was sent to Hess & Eisenhardt, the respected coachbuilder known for producing automobiles for many heads of state, including of course John F. Kennedy. Hess & Eisenhardt converted about 300 Mark IV and Vs for 1959 and 1960. Using a standard four-door sedan, the luxury cars featured an upgraded interior, padded vinyl top and custom rear windscreen as well as a divider window and rear controls for the radio and air conditioning in the Limousine version. These cars were ordered and used by various dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth and, of course, Elvis Presley. Given their price and exclusivity, Continental Limousines were symbols of wealth, power and celebrity.
Upon arriving home to Memphis after completing his service, Presley was photographed in front of this car at Graceland, still wearing his uniform. Thereafter the car was used regularly throughout his movie and music career and it is believed he often drove it himself. Many have even called it one of his favorite cars.
Attesting to the car’s history is a remarkable series of documentation, framed along with the aforementioned photo of Elvis standing in front of Graceland with his limousine. Included in this frame are a manufacturer’s certificate of origin from Ford to Schilling Motors (Memphis, TN), power of attorney signed by Elvis, authorizing the car’s purchase while he was overseas, bill of sale from Schilling Motors, application of title in Elvis’ name and the transfer of ownership to Alan Fortas, Elvis’s friend, after five years.
As presented, the car is remarkably original and equipped with the aforementioned Hess & Eisenhardt features, including rear privacy glass, rear air conditioning controls, push-button AM radio, power windows, CB radio and automatic headlight dimmer.
Elegant and imposing, its provenance is undisputed and its offering marks a unique opportunity for Lincoln Aficionados and Elvis fans alike.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in September 2009 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California.
Est. 315 bhp, 430 cu. in. overhead valve V8 engine, automatic transmission, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 131"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel