Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche set for Sotheby’s auction

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The 1965 Porsche 356C 1600 Cabriolet that Janis Joplin drove as a daily driver throughout California will be part of the RM Sotheby’s exclusive “Driven by Disruption” sale in New York City on December 10.

The vintage sports car is described by an auction representative as, “without question one of the most important Porsches of all time.”

Joplin purchased the Porsche in September 1968, but she decided the original Pearl White finish was slightly too conservative. She engaged Dave Richards, a friend and roadie with her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, to customize the car with a kaleidoscopic mural.

Described by Richards to represent ‘The History of the Universe’, the dramatic artwork included such graphics as butterflies and jellyfish, as well as a portrait of Joplin with members of the band. The finished product was as colorful as the singer’s personality and certainly representative of the era. It’s a one-of-a-kind flamboyant symbol of San Francisco’s psychedelic rock age.

 A Porsche 356C owned and driven regularly by Janis Joplin will be auctioned in December.
A 1965 Porsche 356C owned and driven regularly by Janis Joplin will be auctioned in December. Images courtesy Jim Marshall Photography LLC


The car quickly became identified with Joplin, who was frequently seen driving it in period. Laura Joplin, Janis’s sister and biographer, said:

“Janis drove the car everywhere, all around San Francisco and down to Los Angeles when she was recording there. Wherever Janis went in the car, her fans recognized it. When she parked it and returned, there was always at least one fan note under the wipers.”

Following Joplin’s death in 1970, the Porsche remained in her family’s ownership, and was enjoyed by her manager, Albert Grossman, who drove it for several years, lending it to visiting family and friends.

By the early 1990s, the car was treated to a meticulous restoration, preserving the integrity of the Porsche and presenting the car precisely as it was customized in period.

The Janis Joplin Porsche went on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 1995, where it remained a permanent and popular display up until this week. Offered for sale by the Joplin Family, it is expected to sell for more than of $400,000.

Janis Joplin atop her 1965 Porsche 356C. The iconic sports car is now for sale.
Janis Joplin atop her 1965 Porsche 356C. The iconic sports car is now for sale.

The Joplin Porsche will be joined by more than 30 pioneering motor cars and select automotive-themed artwork. The second iteration of the company’s Art of the Automobile event, the December auction has been entitled Driven by Disruption.

Much like the Porsche’s groundbreaking artwork, each of the cars in the auction showcases the extremes of motoring history and the molds that were broken by engineers and designers in pushing the automotive envelope. Previously slated for November, the new December date was strategically chosen to coincide with one of the most spectacular times of the year in New York City.

For further information or to view a frequently updated list of entries for the sale, visit: www.rmsothebys.com.

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