Janis Joplin’s Psychedelic 1964 Porsche 356c Cabriolet
Janis Joplin purchased a used 1964 Porsche 356c Cabriolet for $3500 from Beverly Hills car dealer Estes-Zipper in 1968. She paid Dave Richards, one of her roadies, $500 to give the Porsche a psychedelic face lift. Completed in one month and titled “The History of the Universe.” The car and its paint job (a base coat of Candy Apple Red with portraits of Big Brother and the Holding Company, her astrological sign Capricorn, “The Eye of God” design on the hood, butterflies, jellyfish and a Northern California scene on the side doors) became one of the most recognizable vehicles in San Francisco.
The Porsche was stolen in 1969 and partially repainted before being found. When the stolen car was recovered, the paint job was restored because they were able to remove the new paint from the clearcoat with little damage to the original artwork underneath.
After Janis’ death in 1970, the car was used by her manager Albert Grossman. And then in 1973 ownership of the car went to her siblings, Michael and Laura Joplin in Ohio, who shared it for about 30 years. Michael rebuilt the original engine and returned the car to the original dolphin gray color (although some say it was originally oyster white). Working from photographs, artists Jana Mitchell and Amber Owen, restored Dave’s original artwork in 1990 and the 4-speed manual transmission was rebuilt and restored. The family loaned the Porsche to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when Janis was inducted in 1995 and it was exhibited in museums until 2015. We saw it and took the above photograph in the Lobby of the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live in Los Angeles in 2013 (see our previous Blog).
NOTE: Dec. 10, 2015 – A 1964 Porsche 356 that once belonged to the rock singer Janis Joplin sold at auction for $1.76 million (the highest price ever paid for any Porsche 356 at auction). The car had been expected to sell for between $400,000 and $600,000. The sale price includes a 10% commission for Sotheby’s auction house. According to the family, the proceeds from the auction will be used to support social programs in Janis’s memory.
“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.”
Sotheby’s did not say who bought Janis’ car and the buyer has not come forward.
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