Was This Elvis’ Best Birthday Present Ever?

This is a reprint of a post from 2013.  I have added a couple of new photos.


Perhaps you have seen this photo on the internet.  I run into it from time to time, but nobody has ever included a caption or text explaining the story of Elvis and this old car.

It turns out, there is quite a story.  While doing research on an upcoming article in Elvis International magazine, I found something in the book “Baby Let’s Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him,” by Alanna Nash.


The book stated that Elvis’ father purchased him a 1942 Lincoln Zephyr for his 18th birthday.  That’s the car in the photograph.  It cost $50, which was a lot of money back in 1953, especially for a man of modest means like Vernon Presley.


A restored 1942 two-door Lincoln Zephyr


Elvis owned hundreds of Cadillacs, Lincolns, and other fancy cars in his life, but it is unlikely that any of them had the kind of impact on his life that this worn out old Lincoln did.  The reason is simple.  The car sparked a big jump in Elvis’ social life. It enabled him to go out on dates with teenage girls.

According to the book, in the first three months after his 18th birthday, Elvis used the Lincoln for at least five different dating opportunities:

Driving to a party and giving a pretty girl a ride to her home afterward.

Going to the “Teen Canteen” at McKellar Lake and enjoying hamburgers and shakes.

Attending the All-Night Gospel Singings at Ellis Auditorium to see the Statesmen and the Blackwood Brothers perform.

Parking on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and watching the water roll by.

Taking in a movie at the drive-in theater in West Memphis, Arkansas.

The last two on the list would seem to be perfect places for serious making-out, which the book says Elvis enjoyed during this period.  You can bet Elvis loved having his own car.

Elvis had enough money to pay for his gas and dating expenses, because he worked part-time at night ushering at Loew’s movie theater and selling soft drinks at Ellis Auditorium.

So, when it came time to attend his Senior Prom on April 17, 1953, Elvis used some of those earnings to rent a shiny new, dark-blue Chevy.  The next day it was back to the old Lincoln again, and certainly Elvis longed for the days when he could afford to buy his own fancy new car.



That happened twenty-three months later when he purchased a 1954 pink and white Cadillac, but Elvis had to cherish his happy memories of dating in the car he received for his eighteenth birthday.


©  2021    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net


Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland  are registered trademarks of  Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


10 responses to “Was This Elvis’ Best Birthday Present Ever?

  1. Hello Phil: I just stumbled onto this web site. I am so thrilled to find out about this car that Elvis is leaning against. I have the picture but never knew what was going on. What a great web page this is. Thank you so much for this little tidbit on Elvis. There will never be another Elvis!

  2. I have always loved era of cars, and bet with Elvis driving it would have been Nearly Perfect!
    Thanks for another great story and of course poctures.

    • Hi Carol: I’ll bet is was nearly perfect for the girls that got to ride with Elvis in that Lincoln. Glad you liked the post.


  3. Suzanne Minadeo

    This is so interesting! Thank you very much for all your work!

    • Hi Suzanne: Thanks for the complement. This post didn’t require as much work as most, and it is a repeat, but folks seem to like it.


  4. Hello Phil: This post really caught my attention as I love old cars and have a few myself. It would be amazing if that 1942 Lincoln survived and is sitting undiscovered somewhere. It would be a true barn find. It has most likely seen the scrap heap, but people can still dream cant they? I wonder what Graceland’s plans are for that old panel truck of Elvis’ that was unveiled a few years back? It’s amazing that it survived. Enjoyed this revisit about the old Lincoln.

    • Hi Gerard. Thanks for commenting. I’ll bet your old cars are really cool. For a short while I owned a 1938 DeSoto.


  5. Dear Phil,
    I will cut to it by saying I am back, and you continue to remain the consummate Elvis Blogger. I further am aware that you and I are the same age of 77 not knowing that till recently. I will go to return as I compliment you on this excellent Elvis trivia
    Regards, Billy F. Martin, Longview, Texas

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