The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Enjoy

June 28, 2013

Museum features collection of famous vehicles

BRANSON, Mo. — Kathy Velvet grew up in museums.

Not art museums filled with Monets, Manets and Rembrandts, though. The collections Velvet remembers were filled with all-American Elvis memorabilia. The King's cars, bling and jumpsuits are a cherished part of her past.

"Our family got into the museum business in 1978," said Velvet, owner of the Celebrity Car Museum in Branson. "We started the Elvis Presley Museum across from Graceland. We collected Elvis' cars, rings, jumpsuits and all kinds of memorabilia."

At their peak, she said, the family had the largest collection of Elvis memorabilia outside of Graceland, Presley's iconic estate. At one point, the family owned and curated half a dozen Elvis collections around the country.

"We were the only licensed (Elvis) museums outside of Graceland," she said.

The family had a 15-year contract with the Presley estate and, at the end the agreement, they looked for a different type of business plan.

"We sold Graceland five of the (Elvis) automobiles with which they started their auto museum," she said. "We had Elvis' white Rolls Royce and his extended, navy blue Mercedes and the 'Spinout' car."

The Elvis Cobra 427 "Spinout" car was used in a 1966 movie musical of the same name, in which Elvis portrayed a singing race driver.

'Sell the sizzle'

The Velvets' obsession wasn't limited to Elvis memorabilia. It has always been a family obsession.

It continues today: Since June 1, 2012, Velvet, her son and a loyal group of staff operate the Celebrity Car Museum in the Dick Clark American Bandstand complex on the Branson Strip. The museum houses more than 80 vintage cars, trucks, custom rods, cycles and movie machines made famous by Hollywood and the stars who drove them.

"We're all sort of history buffs," she said. "When we go to any museum, we are looking at the research and how do they attach all of those things to the walls. It's all about presentation. We had The Blues Museum on Beale Street (in Memphis) and then we started with the Celebrity Car Museums."

Velvet said she and her clan of collectors know what people want to see and, more profitably, want to own.

When it comes to moving memorabilia of any kind, Velvet said, you must "sell the sizzle and not the steak," as the classic marketing phrase coined by Larry Slater goes.

"Having dealt with the Elvis business all those years, the deal is if you don't have sizzle it doesn't really sell," she said.

At their Branson museum, Velvet said she can see what makes visitors sizzle.

"The 'Back to the Future' car is really popular," said Velvet. "We call it The Time Machine. The Batmobile is really popular. We are now showing the '89 Batmobile, because the '66 we sold."

Velvet is always looking for new inventory for the ever-changing collection. They sold the vintage '60s Batmobile at a Cox Auto Auction in April. The Cox Auction, the largest automotive sale in the nation, is where the best of the best roll onto the auction block.

"We have our eyes on another Batmobile," she said. "If my son can convince me that we can make money on it, then it's a buy. He really does know what sells. We've had other Batmobiles.

While Velvet didn't say how much she got for Batman and Robin's ride, she did admit: "We sold ours too cheap. The last one went for $250K."

Almost all of the vehicles housed at the Branson attraction are for sale Ñ for the right price, that is. Currently, Velvet said, they are in the market for one of the industry's most rare celebrity cars.

"The 'Eleanor' from the 'Gone in 60 Seconds' movie is a rare find," she said. "That's really hard to get a hold of, but we are looking for one."

Text Only
Enjoy
  • 071814_whiskeydicks.jpg Stretching out: Whiskey Dick's can do more in a bigger downtown location

    For the Whiskey Dick's owners, it isn't a matter of what's in a name but more of a place where everybody knows your name.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Film-Hollywoods Ape M_Cast.jpg Benji Tunnell: Great CGI, solid writing make 'Apes' a near-perfect blockbuster

    A couple of weeks ago, we saw "Transformers 4," a big, computer-driven blockbuster film that was symbolic of all that is wrong with filmmaking today.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • polyphony.jpg Marta Churchwell: New Mexico marimba group returns for concert Sunday

    They're back. Polyphony Marimba, the Santa Fe, New Mexico, band that wowed the crowd with African music during a Downtown Joplin Third Thursday last summer, received such a response to that performance that they're coming back on Sunday.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • River Regatta 2013.jpg Dave Woods: Nevada regatta makes for a birthday escape

    In just three weeks, I'll spend my 50th birthday floating down the Colorado River with 35,000 of my closest friends.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow 1 Story

  • 071814_pickin trimmin.jpg New festival focuses on short independent films

    As Jack Truman saw his films play in festivals around the world, one lingering thought persisted: He wished that such festivals existed in his hometown area.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071614 Glory Days_72.jpg Glory Days Music to resume weekly in-store concerts

    The staff at Glory Days Music have been working their business as usual. Musicians demonstrate guitars, drums and other instruments. Music is sold; lessons are taught. But something has been missing.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Joe Hadsall: All the hidden secrets in "Weird Al's" "Word Crimes" video

    I sincerely believe the "Word Crimes" video will become the most important song in history, and the most mandatory-to-watch video in schools across the country.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Globe Phone Test: Concept is clever, but transitions tricky with Asus PadFone X

    It's kind of embarrassing to point this out, but "Candy Crush Saga" is one of the best ways to illustrate how well the Asus PadFone X, a smartphone and tablet combo really works.

    Anyone who has more than one device will understand this situation completely: Let's say a player fires up "Candy Crush" on his tablet computer and really digs the game. A lot. So much so that he downloads it to his smartphone.

    Only there's one problem: All the progress made on the tablet is stuck on the tablet. The smartphone has a completely separate path of progress, meaning the player has to play each level twice. This makes progress through the game twice as long. (This problem can be fixed by signing up for the game on Facebook, but no one really wants their Facebook friends to know they spend so much time crushin' candy.)

    The Asus PadFone X is the dream solution to this nightmare of a problem.

    Available exclusively from AT&T, the device is actually two devices. A standalone smartphone can be plugged into a tablet computer, meaning the owner can take his pick of how he wants to play the game, and all the progress he makes is saved on one device's hard drive.

    AT&T loaned us a device that we tested for more than two weeks -- didn't like having to send it back -- and we found a lot of its qualities and quirks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tantric tours in support of latest studio album

    "37 Channels," the latest album from Hugo Ferreira's band, features a lineup of guests including Hinder's Austin Winkler, Shooter Jennings, 3 Doors Down drummer Greg Upchurch, Uncle Kracker guitarist Kevin McCreery, Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett and Leif Garrettt.

    July 11, 2014

  • 071114_steve cindy head.jpg New exhibit combines works of married couple

    Steve and Cindy Head create different types of art, which means they can be each other's best mentor. Steve makes mixed media works assembled from photographs, headlines and more; Cindy paints vivid patterns and fanciful scenes with bold color palettes.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Poll

A state lawmaker who is one of two doctors in the Oklahoma Legislature is insisting that unaccompanied immigrant minors being housed at Fort Sill be quarantined. Do you think those kinds of measures should be taken?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts