Janis Joplin's auctioned Porsche was a little piece of her heart

Janis Joplin’s 1964 Porsche went up for auction this week with a price tag of €450,000, writes Hannah Elliot
Janis Joplin's auctioned  Porsche was a little piece of her heart

She may have sung about Mercedes Benz, but Janis Joplin owned a Porsche — a 1964 Porsche 356C Cabriolet, to be exact.

The classic car went up for auction this week at “Driven By Disruption” in New York, with a price tag of €450,000.

The psychedelic roadster has a (nearly) 100-horsepower engine, progressive disc brakes, authentic non-power steering, a body weight of next to nothing, and if you’re lucky, the four-speed manual transmission will hit 96.5kph in 10 seconds.

That’s all beside the point. Driving it feels as if you’ve stepped back in time to join the glory days of motoring: With its short, little snub nose, low ride, and that four-speed manual transmission, you’ll achieve total road contact between human and machine. It’s extremely fun to drive.

Joplin bought this 1964 Porsche 356 in 1968. Typical 365 Porsches these days are going for closer to the low six figures, or just a little more if you get one restored — but Joplin obviously adds cachet.

She bought the car used, off a lot in 1968, and let her artist friend, Dave Richards, paint jellyfish and butterflies all over it. They called it a kaleidoscopic rendition of the “history of the universe.”

Richards’s paint job has been restored. However, all the original details are there, from the short, plump seats and the tiny windshield wipers to the specialised radio Joplin had installed.

When you slip inside the 365 it’s like touching a ghost — you can almost smell patchouli wafting through the floorboards. There’s even a little leftover stub in the ashtray. (While it could be hers, the Sotheby’s guy I asked would not speculate.)

Even eerier, this is the car that was parked at the West Hollywood motel where Joplin died. It was the last thing she drove.

The car was owned by Joplin’s brother and sister and has been sitting at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland for the past two decades. However, with that perfect Porsche character intact, it starts right up. Like Joplin’s rock ballads, her darling little Porsche has stood the test of time.

  • Meanwhile, Porsche has unveiled an electric four-seat sports car that accelerates faster than the 911 and charges in just 15 minutes, challenging Tesla to keep pace.

The Mission E concept reaches 100km per hour in 3.5 seconds, beating the 4.2 seconds for the new generation of the 911. The 600-horsepower electric car has a range of more than 500km and can recharge the battery to 80% capacity in about 15 minutes.

Porsche and sister unit Audi are among the elite car brands shifting into battery-powered models as Tesla develops into a viable competitor.

Deliveries of the electric-carmaker’s second vehicle, the Model X crossover, will start later this month, and a more affordable car is also on its way. The company run by billionaire Elon Musk received glowing reviews for the acceleration and handling of the Model S, a blow to traditional high-end brands.

The Mission E concept uses an 800-volt electric system, double the voltage of other vehicles. That helps reduce charging times and lowers weight, Porsche said. To assist in operating the vehicle, the car features eye-tracking and gesture-control functions, which include holograms that allow the driver to grab apps out of the air, according to the carmaker.

More in this section

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up