Did Elvis Shoot One of His Cars?

Elvis Presley was a global phenomenon and a king among celebrities, but he also had a temper. Specifically, the rockstar was known for shooting things from time to time. Among the most amazing recipients of Elvis’ firepower was a 1971 De Tomaso Pantera, a gorgeous low-slung V8-powered car. Here’s everything you need to know about the De Tomaso target and why Elvis would shoot one of his cars. 

Did Elvis shoot one of his cars?

Elvis shot holes in a 1971 De Tomaso Pantera. According to the popular story, Elvis bought the car for his then-girlfriend, Linda Thompson. However, his temper got the best of him, and he shot the little Pantera twice. 

Elvis chose to shoot his car, a Pantera this one.
A red De Tomaso Pantera | Bob D’Olivo, Getty Images

Why did Elvis shoot one of his cars?

Elvis shot the 1971 De Tomaso Pantera because it wouldn’t start. Specifically, after a pretty bad fight with Thompson, Presley wanted to hop in the little Italian-American exotic and leave in a raucous burnout. Unfortunately for everyone present, the Pantera wouldn’t start. Consequently, and in typical Elvis fashion, he shot the car out of frustration. 

That, of course, is a shame given how rare the Pantera is now. According to De Tomaso, the company partnered with Ford Motor Company in 1970 to sell the Pantera in the United States. The cars gleamed on showroom floors in Lincoln dealerships, but not in huge numbers. Then Lincoln-Mercury claimed that only 6,091 made it to the American market during the four-year partnership, including the example that Elvis shot.  

Is there something wrong with the De Tomaso Pantera? 

On paper, the De Tomaso Pantera ticks many boxes for many car enthusiasts. The car’s aesthetic is enough to stir desire considering the sleek, low-slung Italian body and eye-popping colors. The car’s rear is arguably the most aggressive part, featuring fat back tires and quad exhaust. 

However, hot rodders would most likely be even more excited by the powerplant and transmission. A 351 cubic inch Cleveland V8 sat behind the driver, and power was channeled via a ZF transaxle. For a vehicle produced in the 1970s, the Pantera is still impressive. A well-piloted example will hit 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds using a Ford V8 producing around 310 horsepower; not bad for a car that Elvis felt the need to shoot.  

A factory shot of a De Tomaso Pantera; Elvis chose to shoot one of his cars just like it.
A De Tomaso Pantera | De Tomaso Automobili

Still, it wasn’t all good news for the Pantera. Widespread reports of electrical gremlins, suspension recalls, and a tendency toward vapor locking hampered the car. The final nail in the American market coffin was the oil crisis of 1973. 

Did Elvis shoot his TV?

In addition to shooting one of his cars, Elvis also set his sights on a TV. According to PBS, Presley shot his 25-inch RCA television during a show featuring Robert Goulet. A Graceland spokesperson claims Elvis had no issue with Goulet; instead, he was simply prone to shooting things. It is, however, difficult to believe that he didn’t mean some malice when he shot the Pantera and the TV. 

Should curiosity move you to see the car for yourself, it was most recently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Scroll down to the following article to read about celebrity cars!


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