Elvis was in the house -- well, kind of -- at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, as impersonators, dressed in high-collared, rhinestone jumpsuits, took to the stage for an Elvis Presley tribute contest. In recognition of the King of Rock 'N Roll's connection to the Speedway (the movie "Speedway" was filmed there), his 1956 Continental Mark II, on loan from Graceland, was also on display for the weekend's festivities. Known for bringing together car enthusiasts and the vehicles they love, the Charlotte auto fairs have become the venues for the largest collection of classic cars in the Southeast. The Spring AutoFair's car corral, car auction, and swap meet, covered the entire infield, and extended out to the parking lots, bringing thousands of classic car and Elvis fans to the Speedway
In the early 1950s, Ford management began searching for a halo vehicle to compete with the best of what GM, Chrysler, and other automotive companies had to offer. Although the Lincoln was already well established as a premium luxury car, Ford wanted an exceptional vehicle to enhance the company's prestige. The Continental Mark II, which was introduced to the public at the 1955 Paris Auto Show, became that special car. The selling price for this fully-loaded concept car was $10,000, which at that time, was the most expensive car in America. Ultimately, approximately 3000 of these cars were made in the two years they were in production (1956 and 1957).
The Continental Mark II didn't follow the trends of the 1950s -- lots of chrome and overemphasized body features, such as large tail fins. Instead, its clean lines, with a long hood and short rear deck was a modernized version of the grand touring cars of the past. Even today, its appearance is striking, with a timeless appeal. Of course, the price tag made the car even more desirable, particularly for someone who's interested in owning the latest and most expensive status symbols available.
Although it's well-known that Elvis Presley loved Cadillacs, including, of course, the pink one he gave his mother, he indulged his passion for cars by purchasing many different models over the years. Coincidentally, Elvis burst onto the music scene around the same time the new Continental Mark II was introduced. Being the premier car of the time, it stands to reason that Elvis would want to add the Mark II to his collection. Besides, he needed a new car, since his other cars were covered with lipstick from his adoring fans. Elvis's white Continental Mark II became his daily driver, and the one he drove to New Orleans, where he filmed the movie, "King Creole." What a sight -- superstar Elvis, behind the wheel of this top-of-the-line Continental, listening to "Hound Dog" blasting on the radio.
In Elvis's first television interview, he was asked why he had so many cars. His reply was, "You might say cars are my hobby."