Farmington rancher remains proud steward of Cadillac once owned by Elvis Presley
B-Square Ranch owner Tommy Bolack bought historic car in late 1990s
- The gold 1965 Cadillac Eldorado convertible was customized according to the King’s specifications.
- Bolack bought the car in a private treaty sale in approximately 1997 through an agent.
- He declined to say what he paid for the car, but he did say he keeps it insured for $200,000.
FARMINGTON — As devotees of Elvis Presley celebrate what would have been his 88th birthday on Jan. 8, a San Juan County resident continues to revel in his own personal reminder of the legacy of the late King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Hidden away in the back of a warehouse on the sprawling B-Square Ranch in Farmington is an automobile once owned by Presley. But this isn’t just any old car — it’s a gold 1965 Cadillac Eldorado convertible customized according to the King’s specifications, according to owner Tommy Bolack.
Bolack bought the car in a private treaty sale in approximately 1997 through an agent that he said had been charged with liquidating parts of the Presley estate. Bolack declined to say what he paid for the car, but he did say he keeps it insured for $200,000.
“It sure wasn’t a used car price,” he said.
Bolack said he had heard the car might be available for purchase and inquired about it.
“When I heard it was coming up for sale, I already had some of those Hot Wheels models of it,” he said. “I thought it would be kind of cool to have the real thing.”
Bolack said he hesitated only briefly after being informed of the purchase price.
“They sent me pictures of it, and it was pretty well a no-brainer then,” he said.
As Bolack alluded to, the car – commonly referred to as the Elvis Presley Dream Cadillac Eldorado — already had been immortalized by Mattel Inc. for its Hot Wheels Legends series. Bolack indeed keeps a miniature version of the car to show to visitors before they get a glimpse of the real thing.
Bolack said he was told by the agent who facilitated the sale that Presley oversaw the customization of the Cadillac personally and issued specific written instructions for how he wanted it outfitted. That job was handled by George Barris of Barris Kustom Industries, a well-known, Hollywood-based auto custom shop responsible for crafting many well-known vehicles that have been featured in films and television shows, including the Batmobile.
The car’s most striking feature is its paint job — 27 coats of pearlescent gold paint, Bolack said, resulting in a finish that remains remarkably smooth and gleaming to this day. Its interior features gold piping and upholstery, guitar-shaped stereo speakers, individual block letter implants in the dash that light up and spell out ELVIS PRESLEY, and, of course, a pair of fuzzy gold dice hanging from the rear-view mirror.
The exterior sports an EP hood ornament and a boomerang-style antenna in the back that once was used for a small television set built into the back seat. The television set is gone, as is a small, Elvis Presley statue that was positioned above it. Other than those two items, Bolack said, the car remains complete.
Bolack said he was told Barris was still working on the car and had it 90% completed when Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977. But he has been assured that the King rode in the Cadillac on at least a few occasions and was keenly interested in its customization.
While Bolack has been an avid music fan for most of his life — his collection of vinyl 45 rpm singles numbers in the hundreds of thousands, and he continues to host two shows each week on local radio stations — he said he didn’t become a real fan of the King’s work until later.
“I didn’t appreciate his music so much until after he passed away,” Bolack said. “That’s kind of ironic, but that’s certainly the way it was with me.”
While the car is not on public display, Bolack said visitors to the B-Square Ranch are welcome to take a look at it by making an appointment at least a day in advance. He keeps it parked between his maroon 1966 Corvette and the 1952 Cadillac driven by his mother Alice, in a warehouse that also is crammed with an F-15 Eagle fighter jet, a stage coach, a World War II-era Sherman tank, a couple of Model Ts, dozens of old jukeboxes and assorted other collectibles.
While he doesn’t have anything special planned to celebrate the King’s birthday, other than featuring his music on his two radio programs, Bolack said likes to come out to the warehouse about once a year, climb into the Cadillac and reflect on its former owner.
“I don’t think there’ll ever be another one like him,” he said.
Call 505-325-4275 to arrange a free tour of the B-Square Ranch between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.