WHAT do you do with a 55 year-old executive jet that’s sat idle in the open-air in New Mexico for 30 years, and which has no engines, needs a totally new cockpit, is unlikely to ever be given airworthiness certification again, and for which you have just paid US$430,000?
Most people would probably say kiss your money goodbye, until you add that, oh yeah, it was also owned by Elvis Presley at the time of his death, 40 years ago this month.
Presley owned three jets, two of those – a customised Convair 880 he named Lisa Marie after his daughter, and a customised Lockheed Jetstar dubbed Hound Dog II after one of his most famous songs – plus a second Lockheed Jetstar that is the one that’s sat idle all those years in New Mexico.
The Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II are now on display at Gracelands in Memphis, Tennessee that was Presley’s home and is now a museum visited by 500,000-plus people a year.
The Lockheed Jetstar in New Mexico was bought privately many years ago from the Presley estate, and put up for auction this month by that buyer after not being flown for 30 years. The person who has just paid the US$430,000 at auction for it declined to say just why they’d bought it – but whatever the reason, they seem to have got a bargain, as “experts” had valued the old aircraft at between US$2 million and $3.5 million.
The plane’s interior was custom-designed to Presley’s own instructions, including gold fittings in the marbled toilet/washroom, red velvet covered armchairs, red carpeting and even a red velvet cover over the toilet seat.
The big question now for Elvis fans is just where, and when, will they possibly see their idol’s old flying machine pop up next?