Janis Joplin’s Porsche

| February 3, 2016
RM/Sothebys Photo

RM/Sothebys Photo

Chip Harp, Valdosta Today Sports Feature Writer

We all have heard the familiar tune, performed in that twangy voice.  “Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz…”

Janis Joplin’s hit continues to play today, but did you know that her millions didn’t buy that Mercedes-Benz of which she sang?  It bought a Porsche.

Joplin purchased a 1968 Porsche 356 SC new.  It cost her a whopping $3,500, a final version of the venerable “C” model sold by the German marque.

According to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, where the famous car will be displayed in March at the annual show car event, Joplin loved the car and took it everywhere, wringing out every bit of the car’s 90 horsepower.

The wild paint scheme was definitely befitting of Joplin’s “hippy” style, but was obviously not “factory original”.  It was painted by one of her roadies, Dave Richards, who took nearly a month to complete.  He entitled his creation, “The History of the Universe”, and it certainly reflected Joplin.

Joplin was found dead in a Hollywood motel room in October of 1970.  The Porsche was parked outside.

After her death, Joplin’s family continued to enjoy the car.  They did, though, decide the paint scheme a bit much and had it resprayed.

The family donated the car to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 for display, where it remained for the next 20 years.

The car’s wild paint scheme was recreated during a restoration by two woman in Denver who, using pictures, tried to stay faithful to Richard’s original work.  The owner even sourced a Estes-Zipper dealer license plate frame, just as the original sported from the famous dealership.

Why did Joplin chose the 356?  According to Mark Becker, Vice Chairman of the Concours event, her decision was similar to that of the car’s designer, Ferry Porsche.  Porsche stated his vision for the car was to build the car of his dreams.  Richard’s paint job and the car’s design gave her that, too.

“She said it was ‘very fancy, high class and a great car, too,’ ” said Becker.

The 21st Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will be held on the 1st and 18th fairways of the golf course at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island.  The event draws over 250 rare vehicles from collections around the world.  It will be held March 11-13.


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