Today, Graceland is a mecca for Elvis lovers. It is not just his house, it is a whole theme park. Inside the main pavilion, across from Graceland, is Elvis’ car museum which shows approximately thirty of his cars. There are the obvious Cadillacs, several Rolls Royces, and then there are some very unique whips.
1971 Stutz Blackhawk
One of more interesting cars at the museum was a Stutz Blackhawk. I had no idea what it was, other than the fact that is may have been based on a large GM coupe. I was right, and here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:
The Stutz Blackhawk was an American luxury car manufactured from 1971 through 1987. The Stutz Motor Company was revived in August 1968 by New York banker James O’Donnell. Virgil Exner designed the car, which was prototyped by Ghia at a cost over US$300,000. The Blackhawk debuted in January 1970 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Approximately 500–600 had been manufactured by the time production ended in 1987. The 1972 suggested retail price was US$23,000; adjusted for inflation, approximately $118,631 in 2008 dollars. In 1973, just one year later, the price almost doubled to US$43,000.
With a steel body hand built in Torino, Italy and greater than 19 feet long, the production Blackhawk used Pontiac Grand Prix running gear, Pontiac‘s 7.5 L (455 in) engine, and a GM TH400 transmission. With its engine tuned to produce 425 hp and 420 ft·lbf, the 5000 lb Blackhawk could accelerate to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds with a 130 mph top speed, delivering 8 miles per gallon.
Exner’s design included a spare tire that protruded through the trunklid and separate headlights. The interior included gold plated trim and birds eye maple. All early Blackhawks were coupes, but rare sedans were produced later. In 1980, the Blackhawk was redesigned for the Pontiac Bonneville chassis.
Turns out that the car was not only owned by Elvis, who actually had four of them, but almost all members of the Rat Pack had one. I can’t even think of the modern day equivalent of this car.
Mercedes Benz 600 Pullman
Another car that stood out was the Mercedes Benz 600 Pullman. You may remember seeing this car on TopGear, when Jeremy bought it and compared it to Captain Slow’s Rolls Royce Coupe Park Ward (or some similar sounding odd name). In life the 600 is truly imposing; if I was a dignitary or 20th century tyrant I would definitely own one. Size-wise, it is impressive even by today’s standards.