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Graceland Exhibits: Elvis’ Cars, Planes & Performances

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

On Christmas Eve, we played tourists in our own hometown and visited Graceland, Elvis’ mansion in Memphis, Tennessee. This post is a continuation of Monday’s where I shared photos of the inside of Graceland. You might want to click there first if you haven’t already read it!

Today I’m sharing a sampling from each of the exhibits at Graceland, including Elvis’ cars, planes, and memorabilia from his performances. Keep in mind, each of these exhibits could easily have had their own post, but since this is a travel blog and not an Elvis fan page, I thought it best to condense it all into one!

Elvis’ Automobile Museum

Elvis’ Automobile Museum was my favorite of the Graceland exhibits. The museum showcases over 30 of Elvis’ cars, including the motorcycle he was riding when he drove through my dad’s neighborhood behind Graceland and stopped and watched as my dad and his friends played football. (Lucky kids! But they didn’t even think to ask Elvis to join them – shame on them!)

Elvis loved cars and, generous guy that he was, he loved giving them away, too. The exact number of cars that Elvis gave away is unknown, but it is estimated to be in the hundreds. The cars in this museum collection are ones he personally drove and bought for family members. Those that had been traded in or sold have since been repurchased and restored to their original state when Elvis owned them. The following are three of my favorites.

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

1971 Stutz Blackhawk

“Legend has it that this Stutz Blackhawk was originally ordered for Frank Sinatra, but charmed away from the car dealer by Elvis. This car was presented to Elvis at the Las Vegas International Hotel in 1970 and was the first ever Stutz Blackhawk to be delivered in the United States. The car, although now fully restored, was totaled by a hired driver on July 1, 1971.”

Elvis’ Automobile Museum

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

1955 Cadillac Fleetwood

“Perhaps the most famous of Elvis’ cars, the pink Cadillac was one of the few that Elvis kept from his rise to stardom. Custom painted pink, this car was first used by Elvis for touring. He then gave the car to his mom. He often referred to it as Gladys’ car because it was her favorite.”

Elvis’ Automobile Museum

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

1956 Cadillac Eldorado

“This Cadillac is a prime example of the individuality that established Elvis as cultural icon. Bought in 1956, the car was originally white. Elvis had the car painted purple and customized the interior to his taste. He traded it in 1957 and a fan later bought it. The condition of the car now is a result of $30,000 worth of restoration that began in 1976.”

Elvis’ Automobile Museum

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

Elvis’ Airplanes

The second stop on our tour of Graceland exhibits was Elvis’ airplanes. Elvis owned two custom airplanes, the Lisa Marie, a Convair 880 Jet, and Hound Dog II, a Lockheed JetStar. The JetStar is quite small allowing visitors only a peek at the neon yellow and green interior, but a better tour can be found inside the Lisa Marie. Extensively renovated into a narrow, but comfortable home in the sky, the airplane has its own living room, conference room, sitting room, bedroom, and dressing room. And because this is Elvis, not only does the bathroom feature a gold-flecked sink, but the seat belts on the plane are also plated in gold. Go big or go home, right?

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

Elvis’ 68 Special

Elvis’ 68 Special is a small exhibit focusing on Elvis’ return to stardom after a lengthy break. The exhibit shares key pieces of memorabilia from his ’68 Comeback Special which became the highest-rated television special of the year. My favorite thing in here was the Western Union telegrams sent during the planning stages of the production. The network was trying to work out a deal with Elvis and after sending him an extra long telegram, his snarky reply to their offer was simply, “Dear Colonel, Is that the best you can do? Respectfully yours, Elvis”. I love it! And because I never waste an opportunity to look like a fool in public, I made sure I had my picture taken with the King before we left.

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

Elvis’ Tupelo

Elvis’ Tupelo is a really fascinating exhibit about Elvis’ early life in Tupelo, Mississippi. Timelines covering Gladys and Vernon’s (Elvis’ parents) lives pre- and post-Elvis give a little background on his childhood and how they came to be in Memphis, a life-altering move that ultimately brought Elvis to Sun Studio where he recorded his first albums and rose to fame. The photo above is a picture of a picture, but who do you think he favors the most? I think it’s his mother.

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

Elvis’ Hawaii

The Elvis’ Hawaii exhibit covers his concerts and movies taped in one of his favorite places, Hawaii. Elvis had this to say about Hawaii – “I will never forget the day the ship pulled out, what a good feeling I had. It was a wonderful feeling I will never forget…I certainly hope to come back again someday, I really do.” (I feel the same, Elvis!) You can tell from this exhibit how much he loved Hawaii and making movies and music there. It gives me comfort to know that in his later years that were so full of loneliness, he still had memories like these to fall back on. It was a happier Elvis time period, for sure.

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

Elvis: Live from Vegas

At Elvis: Live from Vegas, showcased behind glass, are so many Vegas jumpsuits that you’ll wonder if Elvis ever wore the same one twice! (Is it weird that when I see these I think of impersonators and not actual Elvis?) Let’s take a moment to appreciate the size of that gold belt, too. You wouldn’t be able to put much hip-swinging in your act wearing that thing! It was given to Elvis by the International Hotel for breaking Las Vegas attendance records history – 57 sold out concerts, pretty unimaginable at the time.

Graceland Exhibits: Elvis' Cars, Planes & Performances

Rockabilly’s Diner

After almost four hours at Graceland, we were starving! We made a stop at Rockabilly’s Diner on the Graceland premises to try one of Elvis’ favorites – grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I’m not a fan, but Lex loved hers! The restaurant also serves normal diner food, like burgers and chicken strips, if PB & Banana isn’t your thing. It was the perfect way to end our Elvis experience.

Tips for Visiting Graceland

If you’re planning a visit to Graceland, keep these things in mind. First, give yourself enough time, especially if you pay for the upgrade which includes all of the Graceland exhibits mentioned in this post. It takes awhile to make your way through it all. Second, if you don’t pay for the upgrade the only exhibits you’ll be able to visit outside the mansion are Elvis’ Tupelo and Elvis’ 68 Special. It’s only an extra $3, so I’d say it’s worth it. Also, look for discounts wherever you can. Tickets aren’t cheap to Graceland ($34 for adults, $15 for children without the upgrade), but seniors, students, military and law enforcement, and AAA members all receive varying discounts. And finally, be careful. Graceland isn’t in the safest part of town. It will cost you $10 to park your car in the Graceland parking lot, but it sure beats finding a free spot down the road and then not having a car when you come back, right? (I’m only sort of joking.) If you have any questions about the exhibits or our Graceland experience, feel free to ask!

Graceland: Website
Address: 3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee 38116

Share this post:

  • Travel Italy
    October 9, 2017 at 7:36 AM

    Amazing trip, The cars, the planes, the outfits and his mansion are awesome. Such an incredible trip.

  • Emmymom
    January 20, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    I have had grilled peanut butter and banana, a friend made it for me once and I liked it way better than I thought I would. That would be fun to see all of those cars and tour the airplane

  • Jo
    January 16, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    I love love love the cars!

  • Diana Bockus
    January 16, 2014 at 10:40 PM

    Totally remember doing this! Love those cars! That pic of you and Elvis is great!

  • Katrin
    January 16, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Thanks so much for sharing! I want to visit so badly! I am still fascinated by the fact that our dad basically grew up having Elvis around. :) And those cars are cool! Now I want to try a pb and banana sandwich! :)

  • Jenn
    January 15, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    I’m not a huge Elvis fan but my parents are! I’d love to come here with my Mom one day!

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    January 15, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    PB and banana sandwiches are delicious! Add some bacon and it transforms it. Lexie knows what’s up. I always think of impersonators when I see those suits too, not Elvis actually wearing them.

    • Sarah Shumate
      January 16, 2014 at 10:09 AM

      Cory and Lexie are firm believers that you can add bacon to ANYTHING, so I’m sure they’d be up for that! :o) Just the smell of bananas makes me gag – although I do try to force one down every now and then since they’re supposed to be good after a tough workout.

      • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
        January 17, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        Only recently have I met loads of people that hate bananas, I have one pretty much every morning for breakfast, I can put them on anything! I’m not a fan of banana flavoured things though. Spread some Nutella on them, that should make them go down easier :)

      • susannem
        January 18, 2014 at 4:17 AM

        I am with you I don’t like bananas. I drink coconut water instead after workouts. It must have been awesome to see all of those exhibits. I was so entertained seeing some of his stuff in Nashville at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

        • Sarah Shumate
          January 18, 2014 at 9:47 AM

          I’ve been to the Country Music Hall of Fame, but it was about 7 years ago, so I need to do it again – maybe next summer when we head back to see friends there!

          So what does coconut water do for you after a workout?

          • susannem
            January 18, 2014 at 5:37 PM

            It has more potassium than bananas so it helps with muscle cramping. It is also full of electrolytes.

  • Jen Mc
    January 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    We saw all that this summer and loved it all! Our daughter LOVED the 56 Cadillac, it’s purple…
    I hope you all enjoyed your tour.

  • Michelle
    January 15, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    We are in Memphis right now, and we are going to try to fit in a visit to Graceland. Neither of us have been since we were little. Great pictures!

  • Caroline
    January 15, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    I was so star struck looking at all those outfits I’d seen him wear a thousand times in my DVD’s and videos! Graceland and Memphis was one of my best experiences so far. I was so sad to leave!

    Caroline x

  • Alex Fahey
    January 15, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    I agree with you- if you go, you should see all of it! I loved seeing the cars and planes!

  • Sara Louise
    January 15, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    Gold seatbelt buckles… because why not, right?! :)