Buy an Elvis aircraft

Updated: January 15, 2015 12:21 AM

These were luxury jets purchased by Presley at the height of his popularity as a singer, actor and entertainer...

VISITORS TO the late Elvis Presley’s Graceland, the mansion in Memphis that the ‘King’ once lived in and is now a memorial and major tourist attraction, would have noticed two vintage aircraft parked on the tarmac on an adjacent plot. These were luxury jets purchased by Presley at the height of his popularity as a singer, actor and entertainer, a height few have reached or even come close to.

Now, his fans across the world have a rare opportunity to get themselves a piece of Presley memorabilia, very expensive memorabilia one may add. The auction house that has put up the jets for bidding expect to get between $10 and $15 million for the aircraft, which may be 40 years old, but have been preserved the way the King had redesigned and refurbished them. The two jets are a Convair 880 and a Lockheed Jetstar, both bought in 1975. Presley bought the Convair 880m jet from Delta Airlines and paid $250,000, a substantial sum in those days. He spent almost the same amount turning it into a flying palace fit for a King. Named Lisa Marie after his only daughter, he spent close to $300,000 in tearing out the interiors and customising the Convair to add plush sleeping quarters for guests, a penthouse bedroom with a custom-made queen-size bed, an executive bathroom with gold faucets and gold washbasin, a videotape system linked to four televisions and a stereo system with 50 speakers and a conference room. The tail section of the plane featured Presley’s trademark—‘TCB’—short for ‘Taking Care of Business’. The interior design was personally chosen by Presley himself.

The ‘Lisa Marie’ had its last flight when Presley’s former wife, Priscilla Presley, and actor George Hamilton used it to attend Presley’s funeral. The second luxury jet up for auction is a smaller private aircraft, a Lockheed Jetstar, which was built to carry between eight to 10 passengers. He named this one ‘Hound Dog II’ after one of his greatest hit songs. He bought the plane for around $900,000 while he was waiting for the Lisa Marie to be renovated. Unlike the Convair, which was a commercial aircraft, the Jetstar was the world’s first dedicated business jet. Typically, interiors featured seating for eight with a full-sized lavatory. The Jetstar was one of the few aircraft of its class, which allowed a passenger to walk upright in the cabin because of the sunken aisle. It was mainly used for VIP transport. Type two jets go under the hammer later this year, and buyers have the option to purchase the plot of land adjacent to Graceland, which has been home for the jets, since they are no longer airworthy.

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