What Happened To Elvis's Hearse? Was It Haunted?
Police officers on motorcycles escort a white hearse containing the body of American rock and roll singer Elvis Presley as it heads towards the funeral, Memphis, Tennessee, August 18, 1977. (Photo by Fotos International/Getty Images)
Everyone loves a good ghost story, and this one is the king of all ghost stories because it involves the king ... of rock and roll. Let's take a look at the super true story of the hearse that carried Elvis Presley to his final resting place and the strange and unexplained events that took place afterward.
An Untimely Death
Elvis Presley was only 42 years old when he was found dead in the bathroom of his Graceland Mansion on August 16, 1977. The cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest, but it was clear that years of drug use and heavy partying had contributed to the decline of his health. As fans around the world mourned his death, plans were put in place for the King's funeral, and in true Elvis style, those plans included a flashy white hearse that would be flanked by flashy white limousines to carry his closest friends and family.
Death at the Funeral
While Elvis's funeral was going on inside Graceland on Thursday, August 18, tragedy was happening outside its gates. Hundreds of fans were crowded outside when a car careened through the mob. Two women were killed and one was critically injured. Who knew that when Elvis entered the Pearly Gates, he would be bringing a few fans with him?
What Happened to Elvis's Hearse?
According to a story told by a funeral car dealer in Marietta, Georgia, the white-on-white hearse that was used to carry Elvis was a 1977 Miller-Meteor Landau Traditional Cadillac hearse. This car was part of a rotation of hearses that were available through a funeral car dealership. After Elvis's funeral, the hearse changed hands a few times and ended up in the possession of Crain S&S Sales. This is where we pick up the story several years later.
A Haunted Hearse?
In 1984, the owner of Crain S&S Sales asked his son, Chuck Houston, and his son's friend to drive the hearse to a funeral home in South Florida that had requested it. Houston and his buddy, both 21 years old, planned to deliver the car to the funeral home and then spend a few days on the beaches of Florida before heading back to Georgia. Spoiler alert: They never made it to the beach.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Houston and his friend had made this same trip from Marietta, Georgia to southern Florida numerous times in the past. They gassed up the car before every trip and didn't need to refuel until they got to the Live Oak exit in Florida. Naturally, the boys were stunned when the hearse ran out of gas before they even left Georgia, stranding them on the side of the road. The two had to walk a couple of miles to a gas station before getting back on the road, but that was just the beginning of their trouble. As Houston cruised down the highway going 65 miles per hour, the engine suddenly quit. He had to shift into neutral and coast as he tried to restart the car. One turn of the ignition key, however, and flames began to shoot out from under the hood. The boys quickly pulled over and jumped from the vehicle.
Stranded with a Burned-Out Hearse
Houston and his friend escaped Elvis's burning hearse, but the vehicle was a total loss. The boys couldn't even salvage their belongings from the back. A police officer gave them a lift to a nearby hotel while a towing company removed the burned-out car from the side of the highway, and Houston's father sent a flatbed truck to retrieve the boys and the remnants of the hearse. It sat in the back of the car lot until 1989, when it was finally sent to the wrecking yard. Houston and his pal have stated that the last ride in Elvis's hearse seemed cursed from the start. Could it be that the spirit of Elvis was along for the ride?
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