Janis Joplin’s Psychedelic Porsche Sells in Auction: An Update for Students in Auto Repair Programs

Auto Body Technician

While she may have had a hit with the song ‘Mercedes Benz’, in real life, the legendary Janis Joplin was very much a Porsche fan. Her colorfully painted 1964 356C Cabriolet became one of the most recognizable vehicles in San Francisco during the late sixties.

It’s been 45 years since her tragic death, but her legend (and that of her infamous car) continues to live on. In fact, Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche recently sold for an incredible US$1.76milllion at RM Sotheby’s “Driven By Disruption” auction, which featured a collection of creatively styled classic cars.

For auto industry students, the story behind the rock icon’s unique vehicle, as well as the background of the 356C, one of Porsche’s classic models, is an interesting example of rock and automotive history colliding.

The Story Of Joplin’s Porsche for Students in Auto Repair Programs

Joplin purchased the used Porsche in 1968 and commissioned her roadie Dave Roberts to give it a psychedelic makeover. Roberts’ technicolor mural, which he titled “The History Of The Universe,” was an elaborate collection of motifs that included butterflies, rainbows and landscapes. It quickly became well-known in the city—in fact, Joplin’s sister even said: “Wherever Janis went in the car, her fans recognized it. When she parked it and returned, there was always at least one note under the wipers.”

After her death in 1970, the car was used by her manager Albert Grossman, whose clients also included Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot. He later returned it to the singer’s family, who repainted the car grey. Fortunately, they agreed to lend it to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995. Experts at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performed a restoration job on the vehicle that any automotive professional would be proud of, recreating Roberts’ original design from old photos.

Check out the iconic auto here:

Rare Talent: An Auto Body Technician’s Guide To The 1964 356C Cabriolet

Joplin’s Porsche was a 1964 356C 1600 SC Cabriolet—the last 356 model the automaker produced before replacing it with the 911. Students enrolled in auto repair programs might be interested to know that the 95hp 1.6L engine was the most powerful pushrod system Porsche had developed at that point.

The Porsche 356 has become a popular collector’s car, and the U.S. 356 registry is the world’s largest classic Porsche club. The 1964 Cabriolet is especially rare, with only 1,745 models produced that year. The sale of Joplin’s car is, not surprisingly, a new record price for the 356.

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame: Unexpected Treasures For Auto Body Technicians

Joplin’s car resided in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame home for twenty years, but it was not the only vehicle on display there, and students pursuing careers in auto trades might find the museum a surprisingly good auto-tourism spot. Its collection currently includes Elvis Presley’s custom-built three wheeled motorcycle, which boasted a 65bhp 1600CC Volkswagen engine, Joan Jett’s 1983 Jaguar XJ-S H.E, and the JC Unit One tour bus used by Johnny Cash.

The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame plays host to a number of famous autos.
The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame plays host to a number of famous autos.

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