Oh Lord …

Of course, this 356 SC Cabriolet is only an used oldie – because the 40-year-old Porsche has been shut but by Janis Joplin, he was sold at auction in early December for a record price.


Blenheim, Ontario, Canada – a cold, foggy, windy November day, the coming winter which suggests. A slightly dark atmosphere, which cheered up Porsche 356 cabriolet only through a colorful painted, wild looking and lit. Half a world travel was necessary, this Porsche, the legendary Janis Joplin 356 to see and drive – more precisely: to drive.


But now are the long flight and forget the 100-mile drive from Detroit after Blenheim, because this 356 SC Cabriolet is something special – it is the used car, Janis Joplin 1968 acquired at the age of 25 years at the price of 3500 dollars, and she drove two years later every day until her death. Which is also the legendary song by Kris Kristofferson “Oh Lord won’t you buy me…” need consider should, because while the Texan in this song hungered for a Mercedes-Benz, she drove this little Porsche cabriolet, where otherwise their friends on the road were private.


But no matter: No one could guess that the mousy 356 SC cabriolet, which was delivered in April 1964 to a customer in San Antonio, would end up one day as a million expensive pop icon. The first owner rather had a sports usage in mind – he ordered a rollover bar, Talbot rear-view mirrors and a roadmaster fanfare – so the car with the chassis number 160371 mutated four years later to a “normal” roadster, what made Janis Joplin to handed it to Dave Richards with a request to paint it.


Dave Richards was “Roadie”, which served as a “Gofer” for Janis Joplin and her band “Big Brother and the Holding Company”. According to the memories of Michael – the brother of Janis – Richards had no specifications Janis and he painted on the original Candy Apple Red base paint. The artwork received an ambitious title: “The history of the universe” . It’s been years, where pathetic titles were in Vogue. And so it will take hours and many tours arround the car, to discover all the details, because Richards drew epic landscapes, as well as the portraits of the members of the band on the body – the Sun, the Moon, the stars – and all for a meager wage of $500. If you look closer to it, you´ll detect surprisingly many mushrooms – not surprising, because in those years, hallucinogenic drugs such as cookies were swallowed.


In any case, the meteoric rising star is a car that really stood out and – as confirmed by her brothers and sisters Laura and Michael, who took over the car after Janis death and now submitted it for auction at RM auctions, – never received a ticket for speeding. The cops always wanted to see only the car.


Sitting down in the car, one feels right off the bat, this SC has been used as a means of transport his whole life — the longest tour was a tour from New York to Arizona, tells Michael. “And the car was never broken – German quality!” It has not been restored to death, as there are so many old Porsches today. There´s some rust in the top box, what bothers but no further – therefor the the four-cylinder starts immediately, insert first gear, clutch and go. Who ever is driving a beetle, can easily drive this SC – however, the value of the car bothers one: RM auctions, which auctioned off on December 10 in New York, the car was originally estimated with a result of 400,000 to 600,000 dollars. A lot of money for a SC roadster, which would have otherwise been sold for $150,000. But then the price exploded: ultimately the “Joplin”-356 Porsche was sold for $1.78 million! But then, on the other side, it is not surprising, because this car is far more than just a 356 SC roadster – this sweet blend of time spirit, celebrity and memories, which attracts the collectors. And who ever pays just almost 900,000 dollars for a guitar of Jimi Hendrix, surely has the money for a car by Janis Joplin.


The drive itself – of course with the top – down runs rather unspectacular: the temperament, the steering and the brakes raise the awereness, how much progress has been made in the last 40 years the technology. On the other hand, a beetle at that time had significantly less temperament. And I´m hearing Janis Joplin constantly whispering in my ear: “just don’t break anything” – and because you don´t want to go in the Porsche-annals for the one, who has driven the Joplin-356 into the ditch, the ride in this icon gets into a relaxed cruising. The disembarking is difficult, one still feels her presence, and her songs are current.


Who has ultimately bought the car? We don’t know – the new owner wishes to remain anonymous. I suppose that the big rock ‘ n roll museums have outbid each other: and this is, where this icon belongs to. Michael and Laura Joplin hope – after 35 years of ownership – receiving a high revenue, which they will use for her Janis Joplin Foundation to further cherish and maintain the memory of their sister.



Text: Jürgen Lewandowski      Fotos: RM Auctions