Never-before sold at auction, Janis Joplin’s acid-trip Porsche 356C is headed to the RM Sotheby’s 2015 sale in NYC this December.
Janis was a consummate scene-ster and party girl — living and defining the Haight/Ashbury scene in San Francisco throughout the 1960s while performing at tiny coffee-shop type venues. The tiny gigs often paid not in cash, but just free drinks.
The bay area 1960s ideals of peace and love went national and eventually global by the end of the decade, by which time Janis was finally enjoying commercial success for her unhinged and anti-establishment sound. That success came fast to the Texas small-town girl, who dove into harder and harder drugs until her sad accidental overdose in 1970.
The 1968 Porsche 356C Janis had commissioned in a ‘history of the universe’ mural speaks to her rebellious heart. Yes, she wanted a luxury car. But something as far from the American culture machine as possible. A German exotic was the ultimate rejection of traditional morality. To help the very-exotic Porsche feel at home among the anti-consumerist hippy crowd Janis ran with, the Universe mural was a perfect send-off. But also clearly special and prestigious to rumble around town in. We like the copyright “C” symbol appearing in the hand-painted oils of the front fender.
Anti-war themes also make winky appearances throughout the piece — notably, even on the underside of the fuel door.
Forever the outsider, Janis Joplin’s legacy is still quite powerful today among artists and high-culture connoisseurs. This Porsche may have inspired the 1973 BMW Art Car in Paris by a racing team owner.
The vehicle is likely to appreciate significantly over the coming two decades, when 1960s collectibles will join the Americana movement of celebrating mid-century American culture.
No estimate is yet available for the Joplin 356C. All things considered, we’d predict a $450k minimum sale price.
Sold in New York December 10th, the trippy Porsche icon will be on display at the RM Sotheby’s Manhattan HQ in the days before the sale.
Janis Joplin 1964 Porsche 356C
New York – Driven By Disruption
10 December 2015
1964 Porsche 356 C 1600 SC Cabriolet by Reutter
- Chassis no. 160371
- Engine no. 811908
One of the most important icons of rock ‘n’ roll history, this Porsche was purchased in 1968 by Janis Joplin, who immediately 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 – a one-of-a-kind flamboyant symbol of San Francisco’s psychedelic rock age. The car quickly became identified with Joplin, who was frequently seen driving it in period.
Following Joplin’s untimely passing in 1970, the Porsche has remained in her family’s ownership ever since, was restored in the 1990s and has been on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for two decades. It is offered at RM’s New York auction on December 10th by her family and will be on display in Sotheby’s 10th floor gallery in the days leading up to the sale.
Photo Credit: Darin Schnabel ©2015 Courtesy of RM Sothebys
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