One of the legends of music, Janis Joplin, once owned a Porsche. Hers wasn’t exactly like yours though, was it? Of course with her eccentric personality, her car also had to display some eccentricity. Painted on all sides with a psychedelic “History of the Universe” mural, Joplin’s 356 has become an icon of Rock and Roll history. In fact, it’s been housed on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH for over 20 years.
When the Porsche was first sold in 1965, it was just a regular 356C Cabriolet painted white. Nobody could have known that such a car would be seen as a canvas for art just a few years later. In 1968, when Joplin purchased the 356, it wasn’t her intent even yet to have the car painted, but after only a short time of owning it, she requested of roadie and friend, Dave Richards, to give the Porsche a visual livening up. Oh boy, did he ever deliver on that request.
“History of the Universe” gives this 356 a unique re-imagining as the turtle that carried all of creation on its back. This car is a fully formed creation story all its own. From the primordial ooze through to modern day, with Joplin’s band, ‘Big Brother and the Holding Company’ at the pinnacle. Joplin, for the two years preceding her death, drove this 356 all over San Francisco. After her death in 1970, Joplin’s manager inherited the Porsche and continued to drive it for a while. The car was retained by Joplin’s estate, and was restored in the early 1990s before it was put on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. This 356 was even put on display at the Porsche by Design art event at the North Carolina Musuem of Art in 2013.
This Porsche is a rolling embodiment of the kind of culture that was San Francisco living in the late 1960s. Everything was groovy, everyone was friends with everyone, and one of the world’s biggest music stars could drive a wild car like this down the street without being mobbed by paparazzi.
If you are interested in making this piece of Porsche and music history your own, now is your opportunity, because RM Sotheby’s will have it available for bidding on December 10th as part of their “Driven by Disruption” sale in New York. This is the first time since 1968 that this Porsche has been available for sale, and it’s unlikely to be available for sale any time soon. This may be the first, last, and only chance you have to buy this car in your lifetime. There are some reports putting this Porsche at a pre-auction estimate of about $400,000, but I’m inclined to believe that this 356 will go for somewhere well above that mark. If the Steve McQueen name makes a 930 worth $2 million dollars, then surely this Porsche can fetch somewhere north of a million. You’ll never see another 356 like this one.