Famously Pink



February 19, 2013

The Historic Vehicle Association celebrates the month of heart-shaped chocolates and candy kisses with this look back at history’s most famous pink automobiles.

The Original Pink Cadillac

Sugar Ray Cadillac

Elvis made pink Cadillacs famous, but it turns out his inspiration came from someone else: boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson, who was known for his collection of automobiles — most notably his 1950 flamingo-pink Cadillac.

Described as “The Hope Diamond of Harlem,” the convertible became famous after Life magazine featured a full-page photo of it parked in front of the boxer’s famous Harlem nightclub. In 1951, after winning his second world title, Robinson created a stir from Paris to London by driving the car on a European tour. The pink Cadillac quickly became a Robinson trademark. He owned a number of them, selling each one on the condition that the new owner repaint the vehicle.

The King’s Caddy

Elvis Cadillac

In early 1955, Elvis bought his first Cadillac, a 1954 model, which had been repainted pink. The car provided transport for Elvis and his band, the Blue Moon Boys, until a failed brake line caused an engine fire that destroyed the vehicle in June of that same year.

Elvis purchased a new Cadillac Fleetwood 60 the following month. Originally a blue car with a black roof, Elvis had a neighbor repaint the new vehicle with a custom pink color the singer named "Elvis Rose."

After Elvis mentioned the car in his first song to appear on a national chart, “Baby, Let’s Play House,” the pink Cadillac and the iconic singer became forever linked. While no manufacturer at the time offered a hue specifically called “pink” as a standard color, after the public attention caused by Elvis' car many people in the 1950s began to paint their cars various shades of pink in addition to the many pinkish shades of “coral” already offered.

The Pink Panther

Panthermobile

One of the most original television and movie vehicles ever produced, the Panthermobile was the brainchild of master vehicle designer Jay Ohrberg. Some of Hollywood’s most famous cars were born from Ohrberg’s imagination: these include K.I.T.T. from the popular Knight Rider series; the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard; and dozens of others now cataloged on Ohrberg’s website, www.jayohrberg.com.

Created in 1969 as part of NBC’s popular Pink Panther Show, the Panthermobile remained in Ohrberg’s private collection until 2007 when it sold at auction for a reported $130,000. In addition to the unique design, the car is known for having a complete pink color-coordinated body and interior. The front seat is a solo open-air space meant for the driver. Passenger seats are located at the back, within the car’s covered area.

Mary Kay’s Car

Mary Kay Cadillac

In 1968, five years after founding her Texas-based cosmetic company, Mary Kay Ash purchased a new Cadillac and had it repainted to match the eye and lip color swatches in her best-selling compact. The car was such a good rolling advertisement that Ash offered similar cars, paid for by the company, to her top five salespeople the following year.

Since then, General Motors estimates that it has built 100,000 pink Cadillacs for Mary Kay Cosmetics through the company’s “Grand Achiever Career Car Program.” But times, and the fine print of the deal, have changed. According to the company’s website, consultants who sell over $4,500 worth of cosmetics per month get the opportunity to “win” an official Mary Kay car through a “co-op lease” arrangement. Fail to meet monthly sales goals and you lose the car.

In 2012, top Mary Kay salespeople got a wider choice in cars. These included the Chevrolet Malibu and Equinox; Toyota Camry; Cadillac CTS, SRX and Escalade Hybrid; and the Ford Mustang, available now in a very un-Mary Kay color: black.

Playmate Pink

Playmate Pink Mustang

In 1964, Donna Michelle was Playboy’s Playmate of the year. In recognition, she was given a pink 1964 ½ Ford Mustang and a tradition began. The magazine picture and the hype surrounding the debut of Ford’s legendary car resulted in a rush for “Playmate Pink” Mustangs that were only available through special order.

The Playmate Pink exterior paint color is often confused with the “Dusk Rose” offering, a standard color (Code S) that Ford offered in the 1967 model year. Michelle’s car featured in the magazine is believed missing, and genuine Playmate Pink Mustangs are rare. No solid data exists regarding total production figures, but the quickest way to tell an original is by the six-digit DSO on the data plate and a blank exterior color code.

Over the years, other pink cars were given to Playmates of the Year, including a Sunbeam Tiger, Dodge Charger and AMC AMX. The most exotic pink machine was surely the 1972 de Tomaso Pantera given to Liv Lindeland, while the final Playmate Pink offering was a 1975 Porsche 911. Although the top Playmates still receive a car every year, they are no longer pink.

 

Comments

  1. Dennis Highland, NY

    You forgot Donna Mae Mims and her succession of pink race cars including the Austin Healey in which she won an SCCA National Championship. She also drove a pink Corvette, Corvair, MGB and a Triumph TR3.

  2. Steve Scottsdale, AZ

    What about FAB1 from Thunderbirds?

  3. Leoman Leominster, MA

    Looks more like Mary Kay purchased a Caddy the same age as her company (5 years) in '68 and had it painted pink.

  4. Colin Peabody Phoenix, AZ

    What about all the two tone Tropical Pink over Coral Mist Willys Jeep Surreys from late 1959 through 1964 that were used in several tropical resorts, Las Brisas in Acapulco, the Hawaiian Hilton in Honolulu, Elvis' movie Blue Hawaii (There is a pink Surrey at Graceland), the pink Surrey in the movie Ride the Wild Surf with Peter Brown, Shelley Fabares, Barbara Eden, Fabian and others. The Surreys had matching striped tops, seats, side curtains and spare tire covers to further the image. Our personal Jeep Surrey is blue, but there were more pink ones that those done in blue or light Jade Tint.

  5. Tim Sacramento, CA.

    What about Playboys pink AMX for playmate of the year in '68...AMC forgotten again!

  6. Terry Bowman Howard City, Mi

    Dale Earnharts Driver of the Pink Ford. I remember seeing this years ago and thinking, the ultimate Manly Man and chevy guy started out in a pink Ford. "Whoda Thunk"

  7. Bill Boston,MA

    Mary Kay Ash's Cadillac looks like a '61 to me.

  8. jms Atlanta

    Fab 1 is a 6 wheeled pink prototype by Ford, and I believe carries teh Thunderbird logo. I have the FAB 9, a Pink 2004 ford Thunderbird, it is a fabulous color and car!!!! Yeah for PINK! They should make more regular cars in pink, us ladies would buy them!

  9. Mike Clearwater County Idaho

    How about what might be the most valuable pink car of all- the Dodge LeFemme, from the mid 1950s. Factory pink color, it was the first car marketed toward women exclusively. One of those cars sold at an auction (I think it was Mecum) and it brought six figures. My wife's sister owned one in the late sixties but no one knew back then just how valuable it would become.

  10. KJohn Houston

    Shirley Muldowney had several pink top fuel cars and an impeccable racing career.

  11. Randy Kirby San Diego

    The Playmate AMX is presently undergoing restoration in SoCal, it is now owned by Mark M., President of SoCalAMX....It needed/needs a lot of work. We have our AMC Show in May, in Pamona. Info at socalamx.net

  12. Paul Grass Valley,CA

    Where is the AMC's 1968, AMX ? C'mon. . .

  13. spl914 Wv

    Other than the pink panther car none are really famous cars, just cars painted pink. Sorry but the article was a little disappointing.

  14. spl914 WV

    What about the pink pig Porsche 917 30 that was sponsored by a pork company? Driven by Brian Redman.

  15. jerry sannan Minneapolis,MN

    Don't forget 1968 amc AMX palymate of the year Angela Dorian's Pink AMX

  16. Tony V Virginia

    What about all the 1970 Mopars painted Panther Pink? Only a Mopar had the muscle to back up a Panther Pink paint color.

  17. David Gardner Morton, IL

    Don't forget Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's iconic VW powered bubble-topped show car, Road Agent (kind of a dark pearl pink)

  18. Peter Bradley tEXAS

    Marilyn Cole, playmate of the year -1973, received a pink Volvo 1800ES, chassis number 4370. This was a repaint because Volvo did not have anything close to a pink color option. The car still exists, and at last report, was owned by a collector in the Netherlands. Unfortunately has been repainted (again) red. There are many pictures on the internet. Search for "pink Volvo 1800ES".

  19. Bond Hanson Florence, OR

    Ford Motors put out special pink Pintos in the 1970's. The dealership I worked at had 2 sent to them. One of them sold. The other was sold to a guy only on the condition that we repainted it dark blue.

  20. gordon coggins pa

    I saw one of the pink pintos on Craig's list in Maryland recently and thought someone painted itthat way.

  21. FAB1 Fan Tracy Island

    In the original Thunderbirds (1965–66), as well as the feature films Thunderbirds Are Go (1966) and Thunderbird 6 (1968), FAB 1 is depicted as a modified Rolls-Royce. Owned by International Rescue agent Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, the car is usually driven by her butler, Parker.