Elvis Presley drove this car in “Viva Las Vegas”, according to legend

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Tom Thinesen, 75, a retired electronics engineer living in Sunnyvale, Calif., On his 1961 Elva Mk VI, as recounted by AJ Baime.

I have been driving vintage cars for about 40 years. In 2007 I went in search of a mid-engined car [a vehicle with the engine behind the driver, ahead of the rear axle]. I found this Elva in an advertisement in a UK publication. So I called, and it turned out the car was not in Britain. It was in Illinois. A friend and I were about to drive across the country for a run in Connecticut, so we pulled over along the way.

The owner told me a fascinating story, a story he was told when he bought the car. According to her story, this Elva appeared in the 1964 movie “Viva Las Vegas”, starring Elvis Presley as a race car driver. I knew him because I saw all the old movies that contain races.

The 1961 Elva Mk VI is a product of its time and place – a small frame British racing car with its engine behind the driver which is very light and has a low center of gravity.

Mr Thinesen’s car straight ahead. In ‘Viva Las Vegas’ you see Elvis driving an Elva with the same race number # 7.

Elvis and Ann-Margret in a still image from “Viva Las Vegas”. Mr. Thinesen believes his Elva was used in the film.


Photo:

Everett Collection

As a racing car, the cockpit is a big deal. And being British, the steering wheel of the vehicle is on the right.

Elva was a small British company from the 1950s and 1960s. A guy named Frank Nichols started it and named it after the French words “elle va”, which means “elle va”. The Mk VI was very similar to what the British racing car maker Lotus was doing at the time.

I’m 5’8 “and around 210 pounds, and the owner told me that when he restored it he widened the frame a bit to fit in. When I sat in it, I fit in. So I bought the car.

At the time, it didn’t have its 1,100cc Ford four-cylinder engine inside, but the guy promised to reassemble the car so that it was ready to go when the truck carrying it arrived. me in California. Famous last words.

Mr. Thinesen’s most recent race in this car was at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in California last August.

Mr. Thinesen himself worked a lot on this four-cylinder Ford engine to make it run and keep it running.

The hardest part of restoring a vintage car, according to Thinesen, is painting. You need a paint shop that has all the equipment, he says. This car was painted during a restoration before he bought it.

When it arrived, I couldn’t start the engine. I invited some friends and none of them were able to get it started. The problem ended up being a combination of a whole bunch of things. I did all the work in my garage, everything that didn’t need to be machined (everything I sent to a machine shop).

I have been driving this car for almost 15 years, and although I cannot confirm 100%, I believe this car has appeared in “Viva Las Vegas”. According to the story, I believe, the original Elva Mk VI movie had a Maserati engine that didn’t work. You see this car in the movie, but never in motion. So MGM went to a local dealership, Hollywood Sports Cars, and found what is now my car.

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You see Elvis driving it in the movie, and like the other Elva that appeared in the movie has undergone a lot of modifications to fit the Maserati engine, my car has undergone the same modifications, so the two look alike. You can see them in the movie and on my car.

I tried calling MGM to confirm, but no one answered me. Elva is long gone. If you haven’t seen the Elvis movie, that’s pretty good, as far as the Elvis movies go.

Mr. Thinesen with his hands on the wheel. He has been driving this car for almost 15 years.

Write to AJ Baime at [email protected]

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