Elvis Presley and the Gold Cadillac Tour

Here at Graceland, we understand how thrilling it can feel to get up close and personal with the king’s things.

Whether it’s the black leather suit from the ’68 special, the Pink Cadillac, his Grammy Awards or Graceland itself, fans love getting a glimpse of the things Elvis owned, loved and appreciated. And this trend didn’t start in 1982, when Graceland was opened to the public for tours. In 1965 and 1968, Elvis’ gold Cadillac hit the road to promote Elvis.

Elvis' Gold Cadillac helped promote the king's movies.

Elvis’ Gold Cadillac helped promote the king’s movies.

The Cadillac was purchased from Southern Motors, Inc., of Memphis, for $11,064.25 on December 22, 1959 and delivered on December 29, 1959. Elvis put down a deposit of $2,000 for George Barris to customize it in November 1961, and he paid an additional $3,000 for more work in March 1962.

Elvis was promoting his latest movie, “Tickle Me,” but his manager, Col. Tom Parker, knew he couldn’t send the very busy King of Rock ‘n’ Roll on the road for a promotional tour. Instead, he and RCA sent the Cadillac on tour in the spring of 1965. Gabe Tucker, driver and tour manager for RCA, helped oversee the project.

George Barris, "King of the Kustomizers," made Elvis' car truly unique. The car held both a TV and telephone, and just about everything was gold.

George Barris, “King of the Kustomizers,” made Elvis’ car truly unique. The car held both a TV and telephone, and just about everything was gold.

The Cadillac’s 1965 spring tour made these stops in the Southeast:

  • Rialto Theater, Atlanta, Georgia – May 28 – On display for four days. Estimated attendance: 50,000.

  • Cobb Theater, Atlanta, Georgia – June 4 – Daytime display Estimated attendance: 5,000.

  • Toco Theater, Atlanta, Georgia – June 4 – Evening display. Estimated attendance: 1.500.

  • Lenox Square, Atlanta, Georgia – June 5 – Displayed for one day. Estimated attendance: 27,000.

  • Belvedere Theater, Atlanta, Georgia – June 6 – Displayed for one day. Estimated attendance: 2,000.

  • Dealer Showing, Atlanta, Georgia – June 8-11 – All dealers from the Atlanta region attended the showing.

  • John Lee’s Music Store, Anderson, South Carolina – June 12 – On display for one day. Estimated attendance: 50,000.

  • Broadcasters’ Convention, Calloway, Georgia – June 13 – On display for one day. Station managers and program directors from the area attended the convention to see the car.

  • S&W Music Store, Aniston, Alabama – June 24 – On display for one day; no record of attendance.

  • Eastwood Mall, Birmingham, Alabama – June 25 – On display for two days; no record of attendance.

  • Roebuck Shopping Center, Birmingham, Alabama – June 26 – On display for the evening; no record of attendance.

  • Capri Theater, Birmingham, Alabama – June 27 – On display for one day; no record of attendance.

  • Kincade TV Sales, Tuscaloosa, Alabama – June 28 – On display for one day; no record of attendance.

  • Normandale Shopping Center, Montgomery, Alabama – June 30 – On display for one day; no record of attendance.

  • National Hills Shopping Center, Augusta, Georgia – July 3 – On display for one day. Estimated attendance: 15,000.

  • City Square, Canton, Georgia – July 5 – On display for one day; no record of attendance.

The Gold Cadillac went back on tour – this time on the other side of the world – in 1968.

Here's one view of the car's interior...

Here’s one view of the car’s interior…

 

...and here is another view.

…and here is another view.

In mid-1967, Australian Elvis fan clubs got word that the car would go on tour in Australia and New Zealand in ’68. RCA, Elvis Presley Enterprises and the Benevolent Society of New South Wales worked together on the tour and hoped to raise $100,000 for 17 Australian charities.

As a bonus, Elvis included $1,000 worth of toys inside the car for needy children in Australia. He also signed photos that were given away.

Elvis’ Cadillac left for Australia on December 8, 1967 and arrived in early January 1968. The car’s gold bumper was removed before it was publicly displayed, since the bumper could be easily removed. A regular, non-gold bumper was used instead.

Elvis fans loved seeing Elvis' stunning car, up close and personal.

Elvis fans loved seeing Elvis’ stunning car, up close and personal.

A press conference took place at the Sydney Trocadero on January 17, and then the Cadillac hit the road. Also included in the tour were Elvis’ Australian RCA Gold Records that were put on display near the car. Fans could also purchase souvenirs, including a souvenir photo of the Cadillac with the car’s full details listed on the back; Elvis Australian RCA records; souvenir brochure and more. Elvis fan club members donated their time and efforts by assisting with the merchandise sales.

After a short tour of New Zealand, the Gold Cadillac returned to the States. The Benevolent Society Charity Committee sent Elvis a letter of appreciation and noted that the tour raised $149,175 for Australian charities.

Elvis’ Gold Cadillac went on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1977, and you can still see it there today.

If you want to see more of Elvis’ cars, you must experience Presley Motors, the new automobile museum at Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland. There you can check out everything from Elvis’ personal cars to vehicles he drove in his films. And if you want to dig deep into Elvis’ career, explore Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, where you can see everything from jumpsuits to Gold Records to movie props and more. Make your plans to experience all that Graceland has to offer!


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