NEW YORK - By the end of the summer of 1968, Janis Joplin had decided to sever ties with her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, in favor of going solo. Perhaps the most important singer of her generation, she had become a full-fledged rock and roll phenomenon and a beacon of counter-cultural style. It was only fitting then that the Queen of Rock would have an automobile that did some justice to her title: a 1965 Porsche 356C 1600 Cabriolet.


JANIS JOPLIN NEXT TO HER 1965 PORSCHE 356C 1600 CABRIOLET. TO BE SOLD AT RM SOTHEBY'S DRIVEN BY DISRUPTION SALE. PHOTOGRAPH BY YORAM KAHANA.

In many serious car-collecting circles, a custom paint job on such a vehicle would be considered sacrilege. But then, this was Janis Joplin’s car. She engaged her friend and Big Brother and the Holding Company roadie Dave Richards to customise it with a kaleidoscopic mural. Richards described the paint job as representing the history of the universe. And Joplin was regularly seen cruising the streets of San Francisco behind the wheel.

“Janis drove everywhere, all around San Francisco and down to Los Angeles when she was recording there,” recalled Joplin’s sister and biographer Laura Joplin.  “Wherever Janis went in the car, her fans recognised it. When she parked it and returned, there was always at least one note under the wipers.”

Following Joplin’s untimely death in 1970, her manager, music legend Albert Grossman drove the psychedelic Porsche for several years. In the early 1990s, the car was meticulously restored to its 1960s lustre and in 1995 it went on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. This December, the legendary car will be on view at Sotheby’s New York headquarters along with other classic automobiles from RM Sotheby’s Driven by Disruption sale.