The 1950s Elvis's Cadillacs
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Elvis and June Juanico flew to Houston to purchase this car on June 12, 1956 at a cost of $10,000. Originally white with a black interior, Elvis squashed a handful of grapes on the fender and told the customiser, Jimmy Sanders of Memphis (who also customised the pink '55 Fleetwood), that was the colour he wanted. The upholstery was changed to white roll and pleated leather, and the floor covered in mouton fur dyed purple. Elvis's initials "EP" entwined with a guitar and two musical notes inscribed in leather adorned the floormats and overhead.
It is believed Elvis always had problems with this car, which is probably why he traded it in on December 23rd 1957. The car was then purchased by a fan of Elvis's, Mrs Lena Moskovitz of Memphis for $4893 (see invoice). This lady later remarried a man named "Digger" O'Dell Smith and moved with him to Phenix City, Alabama. She had a food store on 431 South and the Caddy sat there under a carport for many years. During this time many people (presumably aware of it's original owner) tried to buy the car, but she would not sell it. She passed away in 1974 and "Digger" moved to College Park, Georgia. The car was abandoned in an open field where it weathered badly.
On July 31st 1976, the car was sold at auction to used car dealer James N. Cantrell of Columbus, Georgia for (believe it or not) $975!! This made news across the USA and the next day the new owner was offered $10,000 for it, but turned it down. Instead he started a slow, ground up $28,000 restoration, hoping to show it to Elvis when it was finished. Unfortunately Elvis passed away before he had a chance.
The car's first showing was in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis's birthplace. It then went on a tour with the World of Wheels Car Show and was featured on HBO and many other national TV shows. After touring for a couple of years, it was leased to the Guinness Book of Records Museum in Niagara Falls, Canada for about ten years. Many large offers have been made to purchase this car, however about ten years ago it was decided the car should remain at Graceland indefinitely, where it is now proudly displayed in the auto museum.
This car also appeared on stage at the "Elvis Aaron Presley: A Tribute" show in Memphis, 1994. The History cable TV channel has recently done a "lost treasures" story on this car, which will be shown soon. At Christmas time 1999 the car was seen nationally on US television in an Eveready batteries commercial.
Jeremy Larkins has pointed out the front license plate frame mounting on the same spot on the bumper, even AFTER the car was painted purple. 1956 Cadillacs did not usually have the front license mounted in that spot. Most Cadillacs with front mounts had them centred, as on the 1955 limo and the 1957 coupe. This is probably an add-on vanity mounting that was placed below the passenger side headlight for some reason, instead of mounted in the centre by the dealer. Remember, Elvis and June flew to Houston, Texas to pick this car up and drive home, and Texas didn't require a front mounted license plate, so the dealer would not have mounted a factory centered bumper mounting bracket onto this car. Elvis would have had to buy an after-market mounting bracket for his Tennessee front plate once he got home and picked up his tags. These facts all lead us to believe this frontal pics of the 1956 Caddy at Gracelands above is the front angle of the Eldorado, probably taken the same day as the side on shot.
Jeremy has also done some additional research and can't confirm that Elvis had any other 1956 Cadillac, other than the Eldorado. He apparently skipped the 1956 model year and jumped from the '54s and
'55s to the 1957 Coupe de Ville (probably because his 1956 touring schedule was so heavy that he didn't get much chance to enjoy his money.) Also the fact that the Eldorado was so much more expensive that any other model in the line-up that year, (except for the limousine) probably contributed to him not buying another 1956. The fact that he bought the blue 1955 limo used in January 1956 (and paid to have it painted black within 6-8 months of purchasing it) would put him buying (and spending a chunk of money on) two very expensive Cadillacs in 1956.
Lots more info on this Caddy on this site.