Elvis Presley was so famous that he didn’t even have to attend his own tour. Instead, he sent his car and thousands of fans flocked to see it.
Graceland is proof that people want to be up close and personal with Elvis’s things. In fact, according to Graceland’s website, the estate welcomes over 500,000 visitors every year. It is one of the five most visited home tours in the United States and is the most famous home in America after The White House. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that in 1965 and 1968 thousands of fans also traveled to look at, take pictures with, and buy souvenirs near Presley’s gold Cadillac.
Elvis purchased a brand new Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood limousine in Memphis in 1959. But, obviously, simply purchasing a new car wasn’t enough for the King of Rock n’ Roll. So he spent extra money on a few customizations. And when we say “a few” we mean he went all out – like if Pimp My Ride was still a show Elvis would have taken home the coolest ride. The Cadillac features 24-karat gold plate highlights and trim including a pure gold bumper. The car is covered in 40 coats of paint, called “diamond dust pearl,” which is made of crushed diamonds and fish scales. The inside of the car features gold lamé drapes, a record player with an automatic changer, a gold-plated television, and a golden amenity case with a hairbrush, clipper, and razor. There is also a white mouton fur carpet and an intercom for communicating with the driver.
Elvis Presley’s Cadillac Went on Tour Without Him
So, back to what Elvis actually did with the car. A few years after purchasing and customizing the Cadillac, Elvis started promoting his new movie, Tickle Me. At the time, Elvis was way too busy on his concert tour to leave and promote the movie. So, his manager Colonel Tom Parker came up with the brilliant idea of sending the King’s Cadillac on tour instead. RCA sent the car on tour in the spring of 1965. The pure gold bumper was removed and replaced with a regular bumper. And the car stopped in 16 different locations across the US and attracted up to 50,000 people at each location.
But the tour didn’t end there. A few years later, in 1968, the Cadillac was back in the spotlight. RCA announced that the Cadillac would make appearances across Australia and New Zealand. Elvis teamed up with the Benevolent Society of New South Wales during the tour to try to raise $100,000 for 17 Australian charities. Elvis also included $1,000 worth of toys inside the car for needy children in Australia. Additionally, he signed photos to give away during the tour.
Elvis fan club members volunteered to help with merchandise sales during the tour. Fans could purchase souvenirs, including a souvenir photo of the Cadillac with the car’s full details listed on the back. People could also purchase records, souvenir brochures, and more. The tour raised $149,175 for Australian charities and the gold Cadillac returned home to the US. Today, fans can still visit the car today at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.