Rock Stars' Cars: Ten of the Best
It's not just sex and drugs that go hand in hand with rock 'n' roll - you can usually bet there's a fast car involved somewhere as well. Here are a few of the best rock stars' cars to have crossed the auction block in recent years.
Joe Strummer's passion for American cars was well known, and when he moved to LA in 1987 following the break-up of the Clash he found himself in need of a new ride. He bought himself a 1963 Chalfont Blue Ford Thunderbird, and used it to drive to and from the studio each day whilst recording tracks for his first solo projects, soundtracks to two Alex Cox films, Walker and Straight to Hell.
Following his untimely death in 2002, the car was placed up for auction on eBay in 2014 by Alex Manos, owner of the Beverly Hills Car Club. "This is such a special car to me," he said prior to the sale. "I knew Joe Strummer as a boy growing up in London. He was one of a kind, just like this car." Having originally been purchased by Strummer for just over $4,000, the car eventually sold for $30,700.
Just like his collections of spectacles, photography and hairpieces, Elton John's collection of cars is huge and highly valuable. Over the years he has owned dozens of classics, many of which he has either gifted to friends or sold at auction because he didn't have time to drive them.
Not only was this 1985 Bentley Continental Convertible part of Sir Elton's personal collection, but it also starred in the video to his hit 1985 song Nikita. In the video, directed by Ken Russell, Elton pines after an East German border guard he can never meet because of Cold War hostilities. He can be seen driving around in the car, dressed inconspicuously in a straw boater in the middle of winter, as he photographs Nikita with a powerful zoom lens.
In 2015 the luxury motor, which still retained the personal number plate 'B20 ELT', sold at Bonhams for €80,500 (£57,766).
Elvis bought this classic red 1967 Cadillac Coupe De Ville on September 15, 1967, not long after his marriage to Priscilla, and the newlywed couple were often seen driving around Memphis in the car – earning it the title of 'The Honeymoon Cadillac'.
Having spent years on display at Elvis Presley museums in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Niagara Falls, the car sold during a 2014 Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas for $88,000.
The Boss bought himself his first car, this 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible in 1975, following the success of his first two albums 'Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.' and 'The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle'. However, it wasn't long before his third album, Born to Run, turned him into an international star and just a year later he was forced to sell his beloved car, trading it for something a little less conspicuous.
The car, retaining its original yellow paintwork and flames on the hood, was later displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum, and in 2011 it was sold at a GottaHaveRockandRoll auction for $468,000.
Having finished production on the second Beatles film Help!, Ringo Starr splashed out on a luxury sports car built by the French manufacturer Facel. His 1964 Facel Vega II Coupé was one of just 3,000 cars ever built by the company, placing him in an exclusive owner's club which included Tony Curtis, Danny Kaye and Ava Gardner.
In 1968, following the birth of his second son, Ringo decided to trade in his sporty number for something a little more family friendly and sold his beloved Coupé. It later hit the auction block fully restored in 2013, selling at Bonhams for £337,500.
Just weeks after the Beatles' landmark appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, which marked the start of the British Invasion of America, Paul McCartney celebrated the band's success by treating himself to a brand new 1964 Aston Martin DB5. Ordered just prior to the band's world tour in the summer of 1964, McCartney then spent the next six years driving the car, which even got a mention in his TIME Magazine profile which described him "tooling around town in a spiffy blue Aston Martin DB5".
McCartney sold the car in 1970, and having passed through the hands of several collectors it was restored to its original condition. The car was then sold at an RM Auctions sale in London in 2012 for £344,400.
This 1965 Bentley S3 Continental ‘Flying Spur' is one of the most-storied vehicles in rock and roll history. Bought new by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, and fitted with several secret compartments for stashing illicit substances, the car was christened 'Blue Lena'.
According to Richards' autobiography, “It was a car meant to be driven fast at night. My dark blue Bentley, my S3 Continental Flying Spur – an automobile of some rarity, one of a limited edition of 87. Having this car was already heading for trouble, breaking the rules of the establishment, driving a car I was definitely not born in to. ‘Blue Lena’ had carried us on many an acid-fuelled journey.”
One such journey involved Keith stealing band-mate Brian Jones' girlfriend Anita Pallenberg, after the notoriously volatile couple had fought in Morocco. Having driven the car to Marrakech as a trio, the car returned to England without Jones, as Richards and Pallenberg began their 12-year relationship in the back seat.
Having been sold by Richards in 1978, and then restored to its original glory by a subsequent owner, Blue Lena hit the auction block at Bonhams in September 2015, selling for $1.2 million.
Whilst Richards was busy with his Ferrari, fellow rocker Rod Stewart was treating himself to a 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Coupé. He was riding high on the success of his first solo album Every Picture Tells a Story, a number 1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic which was his launch pad to superstardom.
Stewart paid £8,000 for the car in 1972, customised to include air conditioning and a tape recorder to help him record song ideas during traffic jams, and kept it in his collection until 1985. Years later in 2013 the fully-restored car sold at Bonhams for £919,900, a mere 114 times its original price.
In 1968, Janis Joplin acquired this 1964 Porsche 356 C 1600 SC Cabriolet and turned it into a work of art. Having seen a similarly painted Porsche around the streets of San Francisco, she hired friend Dave Richards to cover her new ride with a mural entitled ‘The History of the Universe’.
The suitably psychedelic paint job featured butterflies, jellyfish and a portrait of Joplin with members of her band Big Brother and the Holding Company.
“Janis drove the car everywhere, all around San Francisco and down to Los Angeles when she was recording there," said Janis’s sister and biographer, Laura Joplin. "Wherever Janis went in the car, her fans recognized it. When she parked it and returned, there was always at least one fan note under the wipers.”
The car remained in the possession of Joplin's family following her untimely death in 1970, and was restored to its original 1968 condition before taking pride of place at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
After spending 20 years as a star exhibit, and described as "without question one of the most important Porsches of all time,” the car was sold at RM Sotheby's in New York in December 2015 for $1.8 million.
By far the world's most famous rock star car ever sold is John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls-Royce Phantom V. Lennon bought the car in 1965, and promptly had it altered to include a phone, a sound system, a television and a double bed in the back. He then had the car repainted by a group of Dutch gypsy artists known as The Fool, and it became the main mode of transportation for the Beatles until they split in 1970.
Lennon then had the car shipped to the US when he and Yoko Ono moved to New York, and often lent it out to famous friends including the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. In 1978 Lennon donated the car to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York, and in 1985 it was sold at Sotheby's to Canadian millionaire Jim Pattison for $2.3 million. Today the iconic car can be seen on display at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria.
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