ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cars of the Stars

Updated on April 7, 2015

There is no doubt we are living in a celebrity-obsessed culture. We scrutinize their homes, their fashion…and their cars. And in some cases, a star’s particular automobile has gone on to become famous (or infamous) in its own right. Here are five cars that have become crucial, in their own ways, to the legacy of their masters.

Elvis Presley's Pink Cadillac

Elvis Presley was rock and roll’s first real superstar, and many things have become synonymous with his name: the famous hip shake, the hair, the glittery jumpsuits and aviator shades. But perhaps nothing is more closely associated with the Elvis legend than the Pink Cadillac. To this day, just about any tribute to the King, whether it’s a painting or a movie or an impersonation, will find a way to feature the car as well.

Elvis is believed to have purchased some 200-plus cars, most of them given away to friends and family. The garage at the Graceland museum features sixteen from his personal collection. And yes, many of them are Cadillacs of the mid-to-late 1950s variety.

The original Cadillac was a 1954 Fleetwood Series 60, which Elvis bought for himself and his band. At the time, a Cadillac was the ultimate status symbol, exactly the sort of thing that a poor boy from Mississippi would buy to show the world that he’d arrived. The car was destroyed in a fire along an Arkansas highway, the result of an overheated brake lining. Later that same year, Elvis bought another Series 60 (blue with a black roof) which he had repainted pink. The car was given to his beloved mother as a gift, even though she could not drive and had never had a driver’s license. Today, the car remains on display at Graceland.

*Note: Some artists choose to depict the Caddy as a '59 DeVille rather than a '54 Fleetwood. This is probably because the '59, with its famous tail fins, is more recognizable.

The Pink Cadillac in the Graceland garage
The Pink Cadillac in the Graceland garage

John Lennon's Rolls Royce

John Lennon probably wanted a Rolls for the same reason that Elvis wanted a Cadillac. It was less of a car and more of a calling card: a sign of power and prestige. Lennon purchased the Phantom V limousine in 1965. At the time, it was painted a traditional black. He rarely drove it himself (he was, by his own admission, a terrible driver) and preferred to lounge in the back while his chauffeur did the work. The car was used to take the Beatles to Buckingham Palace to receive their MBEs from Her Majesty later that year.

The Rolls Royce’s famous psychedelic paint job was done by a Dutch artist’s group known collectively as The Fool. Among the other additions to the car were a TV, a refrigerator, a bed in place of a backseat, and a specially modified record player that wouldn’t skip while the car was in motion.

Lennon had the car shipped to America in the 1970s after moving there with Yoko Ono. He hardly used it while stateside, preferring to loan it instead to various rock star friends, including Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. He sold the car to the Cooper-Hewett Museum in 1977, while facing tax problems. It has remained in various collections ever since.

John Lennon with his Rolls Royce Phantom V
John Lennon with his Rolls Royce Phantom V


Neil Young is many things: folky troubadour, rock and roll wildman, environmental activist, and a famous lover of cars. In 2010 he had his 1959 Lincoln Continental convertible, a true gas-guzzler, converted into an electric hybrid.

The project—dubbed “Lincvolt”—was undertaken by Young himself and Jonathan Goodman, the owner of SAE Energy. Their original goal was to enter—and win—the Automotive X Prize competition, the objective of which was to design a car that could get 100 miles out of a gallon of gas. Lincvolt was forced to drop out of the competition, however, because the goal involved designing a business model, not an actual car.

Lincvolt was damaged in a fire in 2010, but has since returned to the road. Young still owns and drives it, and the car can be said to reflect his own approach to music: an unusual and fascinating blend of old and new.

Neil Young with Lincvolt
Neil Young with Lincvolt

James Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder

James Dean—the original Rebel Without a Cause—defined cool for an entire generation. His passion for living life on the edge was well known, and his breakout success as a movie star allowed him to indulge in his favorite hobby: auto racing. Dean began racing a Porsche Speedster, which he then upgraded to a 550 Spyder, one of only 90 in the world at the time he bought it. He had well-known Hollywood car customizer George Barris (who designed the original Batmobile) give the car a custom interior and a custom paint job, including the racing number 130 on its hood and doors. He had the car’s name—“Little Bastard”—stenciled on the back deck.

Right from the start, friends close to the star sensed something strange and unsettling about his new racing machine. His girlfriend Ursula Andress (the original Bond Girl) apparently refused to ride in it. Alec Guinness (of Obi-Wan Kenobi fame) went so far as to tell him, “If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week.” He also noted that the vehicle had a “sinister” appearance.

James Dean and his Spyder, taken the day of his fatal accident.
James Dean and his Spyder, taken the day of his fatal accident.

Seven days later, Dean was driving the Spyder to Salinas, CA, for a race. Rather than having the car transported by trailer, he was driving it himself to get a better feel for how it handled. He had only owned “Little Bastard” for nine days. Shortly before six in the evening, September 30th, 1955, the Porsche collided with a Ford coupe belonging to one Donald Turnupseed, who was making a left hand turn across Dean’s right of way. Dean suffered horrific injuries, including a broken neck, and died en route to the hospital. His mechanic in the passenger seat survived, but was also badly injured. The Spyder was demolished, and its mangled chassis was purchased by George Barris for $2500.

And this is where things get really freaky.

  • While the car was being transported back to Barris’s shop, it slipped off the truck and broke a mechanic’s legs.
  • Barris removed the engine and drive train from “Little Bastard” and installed them in two other race cars, belonging to Troy McHenry and William Eschrid, respectively. In 1956, during a race at the Pomona Fairgrounds, both men were involved in car crashes, both while driving the cars that contained pieces of Dean’s Porsche. McHenry’s car, which contained “Little Bastard’s” engine, lost control and crashed into a tree. McHenry was killed instantly. Eschrid’s car, which contained the drive train, rolled over while making a turn. Eschrid survived, but was badly injured.
  • Barris pulled the Spyder’s two remaining tires off the wreck and sold them. The man who bought them later suffered a car crash when both tires blew out simultaneously.
  • The remains of the Porsche were eventually sold to the California Highway Patrol, who used it as part of a mobile exhibit about the dangers of reckless driving. While being displayed in Sacramento, the Spyder fell off its display and broke a student’s hip.
  • While in transit to the next exhibit, “Little Bastard” fell off of another truck, crushing and killing the driver.
  • In 1960, following a display in Florida, the car apparently vanished from a sealed trailer on the way back to California. Its whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

Steve McQueen's Jaguar XKSS

If there is anyone who can compete with James Dean for the title of Coolest Man Who Ever Lived, it would probably be Steve McQueen. Like Dean, he had a great passion for cars and auto racing, and the various vehicles he drove in his films have become closely associated with his legacy--the Mustang GT from Bullitt; the Porsche 917K from Le Mans; the Triumph motorcycle from The Great Escape. And like Dean, McQueen made a point of owning some exotic cars for his own personal use, the most famous being his 1956 Jaguar XKSS. He named it “The Green Rat,” after its distinctive coat of paint, known as British Racing Green. Lucky for him, “Green Rat” seems to have a much friendlier temperament than “Little Bastard.”

The XKSS (or “XK Super Sport”) was a modified version of Jaguar’s D-Type racing model. Left with a surplus of D-type bodies at the end of the 1955 race season, Jaguar decided to complete them to road specifications and sell them in America. Twenty five cars were created, with plans to make more the following year. However, shortly before shipment, a fire broke out at the factory where they were being housed. Nine of the completed Super-Sports were destroyed, as well as the 300 still under construction. The surviving 16 are some of the most prized and sought-after cars in the world.

“Green Rat” was known as McQueen’s favorite car. He was known to take it on midnight races with his friends on the streets of Los Angeles, and it quickly became a well known sight in a city already awash in exotic cars. The rare quality of the XKSS, combined with McQueen’s legendary love for speed, made this a truly perfect match.

McQueen and "Green Rat" out on the town
McQueen and "Green Rat" out on the town

Today, “Green Rat” lives at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. To keep the car in running shape, museum employees are known to drive it around their rooftop parking lot. It is also shown at various auto expositions, such as its trip to Pebble Beach in 2010, featured in the video below.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      A brilliant hub. The story of Little Bastard is frightening. Great research.


    • Besarien profile image


      5 years ago from South Florida

      Great hub! I wonder how much Little Bastard inspired Stephen King's Christine. I don't recall hearing about any other 'haunted cars' before the JD's Spyder.

    • Gek Aka profile image

      Geof Awunyo 

      5 years ago from London

      Its nice spotty cars

    • kinjal8891 profile image


      5 years ago from Mumbai

      Your write up is very good for both fans of cars and fans of celebrities and i am the one of them. Thanks for sharing

    • Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

      Kierstin Gunsberg 

      5 years ago from Traverse City, Michigan

      My husband works for a classic car insurance company and before then, neither of us had taken much thought to classic cars. Now we notice them everywhere we go! This had a lot of fun stuff, thanks for writing it : )

    • thebrownbear profile image


      5 years ago

      Steve McQueen's Jaguar is my favourite of these stars cars. Thanks for sharing.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)