You may not recognize her as Cassandra Peterson but anyone even remotely familiar with Halloween or horror films knows Peterson better in the guise of her sexy alter-ego Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. It's only fitting that the living legend would own an equally sexy ride - what she calls her macabre mobile - a tricked out 1959 Thunderbird convertible she can't imagine life without. Currently the car of her dreams is on exhibit at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Hollywood, where Auto World News caught up with Elvira - er, Peterson - to get the lowdown on her wheels.
For the uninitiated, the Mistress of the Dark got her start in the early 80's, hosting the Movie Macabre television in full Elvira getup. Elvira, along with her ample cleavage thigh-high slit dress, caught the attention of viewers and it wasn't long before she was cast in her own movie, "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark."
By the time the film got green lit, the character was almost fully formed - except that the queen needed a cool car, something that was a natural extension of the character like the Batmobile was to Batman.
"I must have looked at every kind of car, thinking 'What would Elvira drive?' I was walking down Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles one day and I saw this incredible car, black, a '59. I was like, 'Oh my god,' that's it!" Peterson says.
She didn't know it at the moment but Peterson had set her sights on an American classic - a 1959 Ford Thunderbird. The next day she went to the film's propmasters and asked them to find a black 1959 Ford Thunderbird. They found a hard top that didn't even run, but decided to tow the car for the film instead of driving it. They chopped the top off to turn it into a convertible, painted it raven black and then added a ton of custom chrome accessories to give it a Vampire feel.
Peterson was crushed when she couldn't keep the T-Bird after filming. It was just a case of not having a place to store it. So she put the Macabre Mobile up for auction where it was purchased by rock-and-roll photographer Lynn Goldsmith. But Peterson never got over losing it.
Ironically enough, the Thunderbird drove back into her life ten years later when Goldsmith moved to New York, a city where she no longer needed a car. When Peterson bought it back, it was a disaster. The car had been left out in the rain without the top on and it was in general disrepair.
"We got the car and took it to George Barris - the creator of the original Batmobile - who has worked on or designed basically every famous movie car," Peterson said, "Then - $35,000 later - it was all back together again."
Barris and his team really made the T-Bird shine and sculpted it into a car befitting the Mistress of the Dark. They added in an Elvira bat hood ornament, a spider web grill and skull-and-crossbones hubcaps. About 12 years after Barris first worked on the car, Peterson had the car spruced up by Danny Koker of television's "Counting Cars."
This time Peterson wanted to concentrate on the interior, so Koker installed a leopard print interior and decked out the trunk. At Peterson's request, Koker and his design team made it look like a coffin, complete with plush red velvet tufting.
"We really did a lot of work to the car and then I had it in my garage for many, many years. I drove it every week or so to keep it running and then we finally put it in the Peterson Automotive Museum in Hollywood," she said of the classic car, which will remain in the museum for a while before she reclaims it.
Her favorite part of the renovated Macabre Mobile is the front grill.
"The whole thing is shaped like a spider web with a big spider on it on one side. So I think that is one of the coolest parts of the car," she said. "The hub caps are pretty awesome too. I also really like the trunk because if I am around it I can just lay down and take a nap in there, it's fantastic!"
Even though Elvira's 1959 Thunderbird is resting in a museum in Los Angeles, Peterson said it will not stay there forever.
"The battery has been disconnected and all the fuel has been taken out, basically everything that you need to do to keep a car inside a building, Peterson said. "I plan to get it back at some point and then it will be drivable."
"But I'll let the fans enjoy it for a while longer," she said with a smile.