This Cadillac Seville was bought new by Elvis Presley in January of 1976 from Jack Kent Cadillac in Denver, Colorado. The story behind this car and the other’s Elvis bought while in Colorado are now the stuff of local legend.
Elvis had been on vacation in Vail, Colorado in 1976 when he hired some local police as his security. He was gifted his own badge and uniform by the officers in Colorado and later returned the favor by taking them on a late night Cadillac shipping spree in Denver.
Fast Facts – The 1976 Cadillac Seville
- The first generation Cadillac Seville was introduced in 1975 as a 1976 model. It was developed as a response to the rising popularity of luxury European cars in the United States, largely from Mercedes and BMW. It marked Cadillac’s foray into the market for smaller luxury cars, differing from their typically larger models.
- This generation of Seville showcased a shift in design philosophy for Cadillac. While maintaining the luxury and comfort that Cadillac buyers expected, it featured a smaller, more manageable size with a design that blended traditional Cadillac styling cues with a modern, “international” look.
- The Seville was notable for its technical sophistication – it was one of the first Cadillacs to use electronic fuel injection and featured a sophisticated electronic level control system, a computerized engine management system, and an early form of anti-lock brakes on later models.
- Ultimately, the Seville would prove a very successful model for Cadillac. It remained in production over five generations for 29 years between 1975 and 2004.
- 1976 Cadillac Seville you see in this article was bought new by Elvis Presley as a gift on a shopping spree in Denver, Colorado when he was buying Cadillacs for the local police officers who were providing him with a protection detail while he vacationed nearby in Vail.
Elvis’ Cadillac Shopping Spree In Colorado
Elvis had a well-known, lifelong love of cars. As a result there are many stories about him and his automobiles, including that famous incident when he repeatedly shot his De Tomaso Pantera because it wouldn’t start.
When he travelled, Elvis would often hire local police officers to be his security. He had a fascination with police and formed friendships with many of them that would endure for years. It was in this way that he got to know Denver Police Captain Jerry Kennedy, who had helped with security for a concert Elvis had held in Colorado years earlier.
Kennedy would introduce Elvis to Denver Police Detective Ron Pietrafeso and Sergeant Robert Cantwell, and the men gave him a badge and uniform of his own – a uniform that Elvis actually wore when he visited a restaurant in Denver called the Colorado Mine Company.
This restaurant offered a famous sandwich called the Fool’s Gold Loaf, which consisted of a load of bread stuffed with a jar’s worth of peanut butter, a pound of fried bacon, and a jar’s worth of jelly. Elvis is said to have loved it so much he took 22 of them with him in takeaway bags.
It was around this time that one evening Elvis asked Denver Police Captain Jerry Kennedy what kind of car he drove. Kennedy explained that it was a small, economical vehicle, and Elvis decided that this simply wasn’t good enough – he said “I want to buy you a family car. I’ve got a Lincoln and I want you to have one, too.” He then turned to Pietrafeso and said “I’ll buy you a car, too.”
The men called Tom Heydman at Kumpf Motors and asked him to keep the dealership open late so they could come down with Elvis and buy some cars off the lot. No doubt skeptical, Heydman agreed all the same, and by 10pm the men all arrived.
At least two cars were bought, one for Kennedy another for Dr. Gerald Starkey, the medical coordinator for the Denver police and fire departments who had been helping Elvis with some chafing caused by his need to wear a ski mask when out in public in Colorado due to the public attention he would draw otherwise.
Detective Pietrafeso was more of a Cadillac man, and so the group drove over to Jack Kent Cadillac and bought him an ice-blue Cadillac – possibly the same car you see shown in this article.
In total Elvis would buy nine vehicles on this trip for people, including two women who were accompanying the party and who may have been wives of two of the men. Some of these cars have been lost to history, but they’re all among the last cars bought by Elvis before he died in mid-August 1977.
The Elvis Presley-Bought 1976 Seville Shown Here
The 1976 Cadillac Seville you see here comes with a raft of documentarian to prove its celebrity heritage including a cheque signed by Elvis Presley himself in payment for the car (and one other), original dealership letters, a Bill of Sale from the Elvis Presley Museum, and a YesterDave’s Auto Museum plaque.
The car still has its 350 cubic inch Oldsmobile V8 in place which sends its power back through a 3-speed TH-400 Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission to the rear wheels. The engine was fitted with a Bendix/Bosch electronic fuel injection system and it produced 180 bhp, with 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway – excellent numbers by Cadillac standards.
The Seville was introduced in 1975 and remarkably it was almost 1,000 lbs (450 kgs) lighter than the full-sized Cadillac Deville. It was considerably smaller in every dimension and as a result it was far easier to live with day-to-day in situations like busy parking lots, traffic, and just general road use.
This unusual piece of four-wheeled Elvis memorabilia is now due to roll across the auction block with Mecum in early January and it’s being offered with no reserve price, and no price guide. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Mecum
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.