On what would have been Elvis Presley’s 88th birthday, his Lockheed 1329 JetStar airplane was auctioned off in Florida for $260,000. The JetStar was one of the stars of the 2023 Mecum Kissimmee Collector Car auction. It is hard to say exactly how good or bad the final price is. There are few if any, 1329 JetStars flying today. Production was from the late-1950s until 1978.
When did Elvis Presley own this jet?
Attending the Mecum auction was Elvis’ first wife Priscilla. She told the attendees, “Elvis loved planes and this was one of them. This is my first auction and I’m excited to be here. Today would be Elvis’ 88th birthday.”
Elvis purchased it back in 1976 for $840,000. It was his third and final jet. He died the next year. These planes can travel 565 mph with a 2,500-mile range, carrying up to nine passengers and three crew.
How was Elvis Presley’s jet appointed inside?
While the paint is weather-beaten from sitting outside in desert conditions, the red velour interior is surprisingly fresh. The jet’s diamond-tufted seats are accented with dark wood paneling and shag carpet. Details include gold-plated accents to complete the made-for-a-king surroundings.
There is a single bathroom as well as a state-of-the-art audio system. And to complete the range of entertaining features, there is a video monitoring system. Though expected in private jets today, this was a rarity in 1976.
Is the Elvis Presley jet in flying condition?
Unfortunately, the plane itself wasn’t at the auction. Instead, it sits, as it has for over 40 years, at the Roswell International Air Center in New Mexico. As it has sat for this long, it has seen a series of different owners.
The jet’s previous owner, Jim Gagliardi, of Madera, California, purchased the plane in 2017 for almost $500,000, factoring in commissions and fees. So that’s a quarter-million in five years down the tubes. “I was going to have it as kind of an advertisement, have people go in it and look at it,” he told the Roswell Daily Record. Curiously, he has never seen the plane, other than in pictures.
One reason it hasn’t moved these past four decades is that its four motors and cockpit controls and communication equipment are gone. So to move the jet requires removing the wings, at least.
Was $260,000 a good deal?
As for what kind of deal $260,000 is, it’s hard to say. Experts figure in good condition the JetStar could fetch $2 million, without the Elvis connection. Factoring that in, who knows how much it could be worth. While there are myriad Elvis cars scattered around the country, this plane is unique. In reality, its real value would be as an Elvis museum attraction in Las Vegas or Branson, or as a show or event draw.
But it will take a lot of ticket purchases before covering its auction price and whatever it takes to move it, refurbish it, and then display the jet. It might be better for the buyer to just get it back into flying condition, so he or she can say they travel like a king.