This beauty once belonged to the first lady of rock and roll, the inimitable Janis Joplin. And it is now the most famous Porsche 356C Cabriolet of all time (currently on display in the West Building of the North Carolina Museum of Art as part of the exhibit Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed).
Thanks to hits like “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Cry Baby,” Joplin dropped $3,500 for the then pre-owned oyster white vehicle from Estes-Zipper Motors in Beverly Hills. A civilized convertible with roll-up windows, the 356C was the precursor to the contemporary 911. Joplin paid friend and Big Brother and the Holding Company roadie Dave Richards $500 to create and paint the psychedelic masterpiece that now covers the car. The flowing compilation of rainbows, jellyfish and birds, butterflies and flowers, alligator skin and faces was Richards’s idea, and he described it as “the history of the universe.” A portrait of Joplin and her band appears on the front fender.
With a top speed of 110 mph, this car was an icon. Joplin used it for daily driving; fans would recognize the well known paint job and leave notes for her in doorjambs and on the windshield. “She’d go against traffic on blind curves with the top down,” Doors producer Paul Rothchild recalled, “laughing, ‘Nothing can knock me down!’”
When heroin finally took Joplin down in 1970, her parents gave the car to her manager who “drove it into the ground.” The family eventually asked for it back, and Joplin siblings Michael and Laura had it refurbished and drove it for many years without the psychedelic spread.
Meticulously repainted for Love, Janis, a play written by Laura Joplin, the psychedelic Porsche is no longer in running condition. Its odometer reads 138,512 miles, it still belongs to the Joplin family and has been on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1995.
Learn more about all of the Porsches in this exhibit.
Also, be sure to enter for a chance to win the Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed Full-Throttle Fun Weekend Sweepstakes on visitRaleigh’s Facebook page, including two tickets to the exhibition, an official book about the exhibition and one weekend night’s stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Crabtree!