Dale Earnhardt Jr. unveils Elvis Presley's last ride

It's all but forgotten now, but in the early 1970s no car had the eye of celebrities like Stutz. Launched by a New York businessman who borrowed the name of a defunct luxury-car maker and the styling talents of former Chrysler design guru Virgil Exner, the Stutz models were sold as the most luxurious cars available. Powered by kneecapped GM engines, the Stutz Blackhawk sold itself on its gilded styling, Italian-built coachwork and interior appointments like 18-carat gold trim and burled walnut.

So of course it was Elvis Presley's favorite — and today, the Stutz which Elvis drove hours before his death was given a reintroduction at the hands of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Unveiled at the Charlotte Motor Speedway by Earnhardt, NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick and Ray Evernham — all in Elvis shades — the black 1973 Stutz Bearcat III was Elvis' third Stutz; he had bought a white copy and the second prototype the company built by hand. In that era, the Stutz could sell for the equivalent of more than $100,000 and the company often billed itself as selling the world's most expensive car. Finished in red leather, the car was essentially Presley's daily driver at the time of his death in August 1977.

And Elvis was no stranger to Charlotte: he filmed 1968's "Speedway" there, with Cale Yarbrough, Richard Petty and other drivers of the era. So while they had his car, Earnhardt and Hendrick did what they do every weekend and took a few laps:


Top photo: Hendrick Motorsports

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