At the 2009 International RockABilly Hall of Fame festival a 1954 Plymouth Savoy Sedan will be on display. The car was given to Johnny Cash by the Chrysler Corporation. What are the facts behind the story.
At the festival Tennessee Three Bassist and long time friend of Johnny Cash, Marshall Grant will tell the story he knows about this car.
SPOILER ALERT!!!! If you do not want to know about the car early do not read further
If you read the story I Still Miss Someone, page 76
, tells of a 1953, not 1954, Plymouth that Johnny Cash used to tour. "Carl had three single releases out, and we were touring now in two cars. I was in John's car, a 1953 Plymouth."
Here is the story according the official GM Website http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f58/johnny-cash-1954-plymouth-savoy-23602/
"The best car I ever owned." It's a claim that can be heard made about many a car by many a person. This time, the car was a Plymouth -- a 1954 Savoy -- and the person, somebody famous -- a country singing star, Johnny Cash.
Cash had been hired by Plymouth in the spring of 1972 to do some radio commercials. During a break in recording, he uttered the famous line, "the best car I ever ownedÉ" It was the 1954 Plymouth Savoy that at the beginning of his career transported Johnny and his brother from one gig to another.
"Say it again," someone said, "so we can get it on tape." He did and a successful Plymouth commercial was born.
One good idea led to another. F.G. Hazelroth, general sales manager of Chrysler-Plymouth, decided there was even more good publicity to be mined from this commercial. If Johnny Cash had fond memories of a '54 Savoy, then he should be reunited with one. Johnny would get his Plymouth, and Plymouth would get the publicity.
A contest was announced, promising a brand new 1972 Fury Gran Coupe to the person presenting the best 1954 Savoy four-door sedan. Of course, the price of victory would be the giving up of a treasured car, but winning would also include an all-expense paid trip for two to the Indiana State Fair where the winner would personally present his or her Plymouth to the country star.
Ads were run across the United States, announcing, "You may win a 1972 Fury Gran Coupe." Entry forms were available at local Chrysler-Plymouth dealers. Entrants were asked to "supply exterior and interior pictures and a detailed description" of their 1953 Savoys, and to have the mileage certified by the local dealer. In all, 319 entries were received from over forty states.
Hired to make the final selection was James J. Bradley, Director of the Automotive History Department of the Detroit Public Library. From the photographs and written descriptions, he narrowed the field down to six cars, one of which belongs to Plymouth Owner's Club member Edward Tremain of Jefferson City, Missouri.
"I wish I could tell you that your Savoy was the winner," wrote sales manager Hazelroth to Tremain in a letter dated August 23, 1972, "but the honor goes to Mrs. Ray Hild of Tacoma, Washington, whose car has but 14,500 miles on it."
Presumably the 1954 Plymouth Savoy Sedan was presented to Johnny Cash sometime around 1972 at the Indiana State Fair. Don't know if Cash ever drove it but it was no doubt great publicity for the Chrysler Corporation.
To see the car that was presented to the Country Superstar as a result of the radio contest and hear the stories of touring with Johnny Cash by one of the men who was there visit the IRHOF Festival. Marshall Grant will be the guest August 8th 2009.