Iconic entertainer Elvis Presley will forever be known as the King of Rock & Roll. But legend has it that Mama's Boy also harbored a quite different ambition - to be an undercover agent. Or perhaps, he just longed to go out for a peanut butter banana sandwich in peace, thank you very much. Either way, in order to dodge the public eye that was ever on him, he'd need a plan. Oh, and a ride that was decidedly less conspicuous than his famed pink Cadillac.
As it turns out, he had one. And very few people knew it.
For a recent episode of his Velocity show, AmeriCarna, three-time NASCAR championship winning crew chief Ray Evernham paid a visit to Graceland, Presley's famed Memphis, TN mansion. The aim was to produce a program segment about the last car Elvis drove before he died, a 1973 Stutz Blackhawk III. But in talking with interviewees, Evernham quickly changed his plans.
Graceland insiders offered up another possibility - one that proved too intriguing not to feature on the show. Tucked away in a warehouse out back and hidden beneath a sheet was a rusty old 1948 Chevrolet Panel Van originally owned by Presley's father and hidden for decades. Turns out the King often donned a baseball cap and jacket, slid behind the wheel and used the van to sneak out of Graceland's rear exit for jaunts free of the prying eyes of the press and fans who constantly congregated at the property's front gate.
"We've always surmised that Elvis connected that panel truck with his beginnings," said Jack Soden, President and CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. "Supposedly, it was the Crown Electric panel truck that he drove up to Sun Studio one day to go in and pay four dollars to make a recording of himself."
So convincing was the automotive disguise that on one occasion, the truck broke down, leaving Presley stranded on the side of the road. Multiple members of the Graceland staff and perhaps dozens of fans passed by. Not one recognized the world famous guy behind the wheel of that beat up, regular-guy ride.
Which of Elvis' rides would you most like to drive home from Graceland? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.