Early hot rod driven by Elvis Presley in ’57 film to be auctioned

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The roadster was driven by Presley in 'Loving You,' his first leading role | Kruse GWS Auctions photos

Elvis Presley fans, listen up – the custom 1929 Ford roadster that the King of Rock ‘n Roll drove in his first leading movie role, in the 1957 film Loving You, is being offered for sale for the first time in its hot rod history.

The one-of-a-kind roadster will be part of the cache of celebrity items crossing the block when Kruse GWS Auctions holds its Artifacts of Hollywood sale August 31 at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood.

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Presley with co-star Lizabeth Scott in the hot rod during filming | Paramount Pictures

Since it was built in 1937 by hot rod pioneer John Athan, the car never left his ownership before he died in 2016.  At the Kruse sale, it will be accompanied by Athan’s 89-year-old widow.

Although Elvis did not own the roadster, he became enamored with the car during the filming of Loving You, according to a Kruse news release.

“Elvis, who loved cars almost as much as he loved music, wanted to buy it, but Athan refused to sell it to him,” the release says. “The roadster had too much sentimental value: Athan… and his wife had driven it from LA to Las Vegas to get married.”

ElvisBut because of Loving You, which co-starred Lizabeth Scott, the hot rod is inextricably linked with the rock ’n roll icon. The ’29 Ford has been displayed twice at the Smithsonian and also at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and the National Hot Rod Association Museum in Pomona, California, Kruse said.

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“The Presley movie made the car a star and gave it the moniker that lasts to this day,” Kruse said in the release. “Despite its auto-exhibit status, because the roadster has never been offered for sale, it has flown under the radar for Elvis collectors.

“That is, until the August mega-event when the incomparable car, carefully conserved, will go up for auction along with other vehicles and rare items personally owned by Elvis.”

ElvisThe other three vehicles formerly owned by Elvis on the Hollywood docket are his personal white 1973 Lincoln Continental stretch limousine; the last motorcycle he ever purchased, a 1976 Harley Davidson FLH 1200 Electra Glide; and a Circle G Ranch GMC pickup truck.

Presley is not the only star represented at the Artifacts of Hollywood auction.  Personal belongings and artifacts from such mega celebrities as Garth Brooks, Kurt Cobain, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jayne Mansfield and Kate Winslet (the pink coat from the film Titanic) will be offered.

ElvisOn August 30, Kruse will host a free public exhibition of “many of the most iconic items to be offered at the auction” starting at 10 a.m. at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood.

For more information, visit the Kruse GSW Auctions website.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The car appears in several key scenes, and is probably the only roaster in movie history whose driver, EP himself, parks it by going backwards and does so perfectly. Two actresses can be seen throughout the movie, in the passenger seat, one os Dolores Hart, actually Mother Dolores the prioress at a Convent in CT, whose life was heralded in the Oscar nominated short "God is the Greater Elvis" and the lovely Lizabeth Scott, who passed away not long ago. The last time a car driven by Elvis in a movie went on the block, ( a 1929 Duesenberg Derham phaeton which appeared in "Spinout"), it sold for US$1.12 million.

  2. I met John Athan in around 2014. My late father-in-law took me to his house in Culver City. On the way I asked him to take me to any store for a bag of peanuts. He pretended to miss the turn and instead we made it finally to my wife’s Uncle John and Aunt Lydias house. There he asked his sister Lydia for some peanuts for me. Instead, as gracious as a person could be, Aunt Lydia made up a tray of different cheeses, crackers, fruits, and other snackums. Then, she went to the bedroom and got John out to be with us. Shuffling to the living room he made it to his chair. Comfy with Lydia’s food tray in front of him we talked. I wanted to chit chat with him but all he wanted to talk about was that he was famous, in the movies, because he made Elvis car. I remember him saying that he pieced the car together and the front axle he turned upside down to make a low slung roadster. Interesting character, very styling. We called and talked with my wifes Aunt Lydia last night. She’s a real sweety. Cherished memories. Gary Koivunen. garykmon@hotmail.com.

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