Sitting in the vault below LA's Peterson Museum are dozens of cars, often as rare or rarer than the ones on display above. We were lucky enough to be granted a look around this normally off-limits section of the motoring Mecca during our recent trip to the LA Motor Show, and there was one inhabitant in particular which caught our eye.
The De Tomaso Pantera is, of course, an incredibly cool car in its own right with a unique blend of Italian style and American V8 muscle, but this particular example is cooler still. That's because it was once owned by Elvis Presley, who apparently purchased it as a gift for a girlfriend in 1974, but seemed to end up spending plenty of time behind the wheel himself in the years after their relationship ended.
There are multiple anecdotes to be found online involving Elvis and his Pantera. Playboy covergirl Sheila Ryan recalls the musician getting the car up to 130mph on the Mississippi interstate before taking his hands off the wheel, for example. The most commonly recited stories, however, involve something perhaps even more synonymous with the USA than Elvis or Ford V8s: guns.
On more than one occasion Elvis is said to have shot the car, and several bullet holes remain within as testament to his short temper. From friends he kept since high school to fellow musicians he met through the industry, multiple people recall The King venting his anger at the Pantera's infamously unreliable electronics, uncooperative engine or just its existence in general, by pulling out his gun and firing a round or two into the dash.
Nowadays its unreliability seems to be less of an issue, stashed in its subterranean garage and only occasionally brought out for the public ogle. Nonetheless, it's unique place in both automotive and music history make it a worthy display piece, both in the Peterson and on your desktop background.
[Images: Jamie Lipman]