Cars / History / People / Star Cars

Star Cars: Janis Joplin’s 1965 Porsche 356c


It’s hard to believe that, had she somehow found a way off the path of self-destruction, Janis Joplin would be turning 67 in a few days. America’s first female rock superstar created a catalog of soulful music that has transcended generations. And, did you know, the singer who famously belted, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz” also left behind a pretty neat car?


Janis joined up with Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1966, at the height of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury scene. Success came quickly, and soon the band was headlining now-legendary venues like Filmore West, Winterland, and Avalon Ballroom.

By 1968, Janis had the means for some rock star transportation, and paid a Beverly Hills car dealer about $3500 for a ’65 Porsche 356c Cabriolet. The plain-jane white paint job did not suit her, however, and she promptly asked friend (and Big Brother roadie) Dave Richards for something more dramatic.

Richards succeeded in creating nothing less than a four-wheeled icon of the psychedelic era. It is painted in vivid colors, and covered with day-glo flowers, cartoon buterflies, representations of astrology, nature, and even a portrait of Janis’ band.

Obviously, this is one Porsche that was hard to miss, and it quickly became associated with the star. If you saw the 356, you knew Janis was not far away. Fans would leave notes under the wipers everywhere it was parked. Once, the car was stolen and rattle-canned gray… but Joplin recovered it and found a body shop to restore the custom paint job.


Several replicas of Janis’ beloved 356 have been built over the years. The original (itself restored several times) sits in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Visitors there may well find themselves lost in the splashes of color… and transported to a time when an awkward girl from Port Arthur, Texas held the country transfixed with a song.

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?

Photos courtesy of CEAnderson, as seen on Flickr


  1. Forget the Benz. I want that Cabriolet!

  2. As vapid as my enthusiasm is for art cars, there is something about this one that just gets me. It was just a different time and a different line of thinking back then and I think that Porsche is a perfect representation of what Janis was all about.

    Good find Mike!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Those wheels are creative…. you have to give him that much

  4. I wonder, if you take LSD and look at it, does it look gray?

  5. Will we ever know why she bought a Porsche instead of a Mercedes-Benz?

  6. Sorry folks, I cannot imagine that sacrilidge being done to any car, much less a classic Porsche. As an ’08 911 Turbo Cab owner, RIP Janice, loved you and love your music and your spirit, and hope the Lord bought you your wish in heaven, an MB!

  7. mike booth says:

    Hey – this was the 60’s – remember – “Don’t trust anyone over 30”.
    Only people over 30 drove MB’s in those days. (They hadn’t come out
    with the 20-something cheap line yet) — So of course she’d buy a Porsche-
    however Grace did buy a Rolls.


  8. Yolanda Reyes. says:

    Forget the car. I want Janis Back!

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  10. StanFlouride says:

    “Mercedes Benz” was not written by Janis. It was a poem written by her friend and Haight Ashbury neighbor Beat poet/playwright Michael McClure as a polemic about the commercialism of the day.

    She reportedly asked several times if she could put various poems of his to music before finally getting around to it.

    Today he still performs spoken word with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek.

  11. Sandra Close says:

    Hello! I went to the Raleigh Museum of Art Porsche exhibit this week and saw Janis Joplin’s Psychedelic Porsche, which was wonderful. I also went to Toronto, Canada, last year and saw another Porsche car which they said belonged to Janis. Is this the same car, or did she own two?
    Thank you.
    Sandra Close

  12. Hi Sandra,
    The one and only original Porsche that belonged to Janis is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. The others are replicas. I had the priviledge of getting to see it. Too sweet!!!!

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