Piece of “Her” Heart: Janis Joplin’s Psychedelic Porsche on Amelia Island

Janis Joplin’s Porsche 356 turned heads in the late 60s and continues to do so, custom painted with a unique psychedelic mural reminiscent of the Hippie Era. The one-of-a-kind car is heading to Amelia Island.

“You’re out on the streets looking good…” is one short line from Janis Joplin’s hit song, “Piece of My Heart.” It was about a man, but the line can apply to her Porsche, too. The car turned heads in the late 1960s and continues to do so, with its psychedelic paint job reminiscent of the Hippie Era.

The custom mural depicts mountains, birds, butterflies, mushrooms, planets, stars, and a rainbow. Plus “the watchful eye of God” on the hood and the faces of band members on a front fender. The mural is said to represent, “The History of the Universe.”  This one-of-a-kind car certainly reflects its legendary owner. And fans who spotted it parked, back in the day, used to leave notes for Janis under the windshield wipers.

The famous Porsche 356 will make a guest appearance on Amelia Island, Florida during the Concours d’Elegance show at the Ritz-Carlton hotel and Golf Club of Amelia. It’s sure to be sought out by fans in a sea of sensational cars that will wash across the golf course for the big show happening on Sunday, March 13, 2016.

Imagine yourself in the driver’s seat? The Porsche was taken out on the road for a drive (filmed by CNN, watch video below to take a visual spin). The car was auctioned in December 2015 by RM Sotheby’s in New York City during their event dubbed “Driven By Disruption,” and sold to a new owner for a record price (more about that below, too).

Joplin’s car is to be featured in a special Concours Class of Porsche 356 sports cars at the Amelia show. Prior to the auction, it had been on display for 20 years at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, from 1995 to 2015 (after being restored in early 90s).

Janis “created the car of her dreams,” said Mark Becker, Vice-Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. The 1964 Porsche 356 C 1600 Cabriolet (bought used by Joplin in 1968), was then customized to fit her free-spirited personality.

Sibling Michael Joplin commented, “Besides Janis’s music and legacy, her Porsche is the most visual and important piece of memorabilia that exists. Like most people and their car of choice, her Porsche is a direct link to Janis. She drove it everywhere – and with everyone that was anyone in the San Francisco music scene – with the top down and her feathers flying. Her music, life and car are a part of rock and roll history,” according to a news release by RM Sotheby’s.

Come On and Take It!

RM Sotheby’s pre-sale auction estimate was in the $400K to $600K range in December 2015. But with enthusiastic bidders (said to be seven), the price soared. Recalling the famous song lyrics once more, “come on, come on, come on and take it…” And take it someone did, for $1.76 million, at the New York City auction. The buyer acquired a little piece of her heart. Reportedly, the Joplin family will use proceeds to support social programs in Janis’s memory, according to CNN Money. Automotive journalist, Peter Valdes-Dapena, took the Joplin Porsche for a memorable ride, watch the CNN video below, “PEACE, LOVE, PORSCHE.”

Joplin bought  Porsche for $3,500 Used

According to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, “Joplin bought it used in 1968 for $3,500. It’s the final version of the venerable “C” model, sold from 1964 through 1965, the time of the arrival of the 911; the last gasp of the 356 species, the perfect finale in the Porsche 356’s long life… She loved it and used all 90 horsepower to good effect blasting around Los Angeles and up and down the west coast wearing the unmistakable paint applied by one of her band’s “roadies.” Dave Richards took nearly a month to complete what he entitled “The History of the Universe” on Joplin’s 356 C SC Cabriolet.”

Joplin gained fame as lead singer of the group “Big Brother and the Holding Company” from 1966 to 1968. Remembered as the “Queen of Rock and Roll,” the music legend died in 1970 at the age of 27, just a year after appearing at Woodstock, and two years after buying her “dream car.” Some may not know that the song “Piece of My Heart” was originally recorded by Erma Franklin in 1967 (Aretha’s sister), but the Joplin rendition, a cover version, became wildly popular.

Concours d’Elegance, Mar. 13, 2016

Amelia Island’s top posh event of the year held annually in March, is considered one of the premier collector car shows in the world. This year’s date for the main show day is Sunday, March 13, 2016 when hundreds of rare autos line the lush fairway near the seaside at Golf Club of Amelia, adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton. This Amelia Island show typically features 250-plus collector vehicles, attracts around 25,000 attendees, and is world famous for bringing unique autos with interesting stories to this gala gathering of global interest. It really is an amazing seaside spectacle.

High Gear Sensory Experience

See dazzling cars (on a blue sky day, you’ll see the sun reflecting off gleaming chrome like never before). Feel and smell the salty sea breeze and hear cars idling and revving through the show field. As far as touch, it’s tempting, but try to keep your fingerprints off the exterior of the cars. Also try to taste a meal at “Salt” if you’re lucky enough to nab a reservation during Concours Week. Salt, the Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton’s fine dining restaurant, just earned a Five Diamond rating by AAA. It’s one of only three restaurants in the state of Florida to achieve this top rating in 2016.

RM Sotheby’s is the official auction house of the Concours event, its sale this year happening on Sat., March 12, 2016 at the Ritz-Carlton, starting at 11 am (running around 4 to 5 hours). Watch from anywhere, RM Sotheby’s usually broadcasts the event LIVE online at their website (also follow @rmsothebys on Twitter, they typically tweet about the Amelia Island sale results as well.

16 Seinfeld Porsches To Be Sold

Another auction by Gooding & Company (being held at Omni Amelia Island Plantation on Friday, March 11, 2016), will offer a chunk of the Seinfeld Collection (he is said to own around 50 Porsches.) Initially, three of Jerry Seinfeld’s Porsches were to be auctioned, but a second news release by Gooding & Company upped the number to sixteen. Jerry Seinfeld is known for his love of cars and Porsches. The first three announced for sale were a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder (pre-sale estimate $5-$6 million), a 1958 Porsche 356 A 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster (pre-sale estimate $2-$2.5 million), and a 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 IROC RSR, pre-sale estimate $1.2 to $1.5 million).

An Asset Class, Collector Cars

In total, five auction houses are selling collector vehicles on Amelia Island during event week. Last year, the cash register rang up more than $100 million in sales (the sum of three auctions) on this barrier island (but this year there will be five auctions).

Last year RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island, FL auction broke records by achieving the highest auction results in Amelia Island Concours history of 20 years, garnering $60,328,550 in sales. A 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet was the most valuable vehicle sold during the 2015 Amelia Island Concours week, selling for $6,380,000. Two other auctions last year (Gooding & Company and Bonhams) added to the total Amelia Island sales volume of collectible investor vehicles, pushing the total sold value of the Amelia Concours week’s three auctions to over $100 million.

Only time will tell whether each auction house will surpass last year’s dollar volume in 2016. Some look at this as an economic indicator, as collector cars are an asset class, an “investment vehicle” (such as investing in real estate and/or investing in the stock market, etc.).

More About the Amelia Concours Experience

The Amelia Island Concours is a trip down memory lane for many. Youthful remembrances may flood the mind while spotting this car and that one, too, driven back in the day. It’s an educational experience, an interactive history lesson. Each car has a sign explaining its significance in automotive history. Cars like people have their stories. Dubbed the “Field of Dreams”, this event showcases man’s passion for cars throughout time. Car lovers in general, and mechanics to muck-et-y-mucks show up on Amelia Island to experience this show.

Although top automobile experts and investors convene here each year, along with the world’s top auto journalists, it’s also a great show for the novice, those who are not “car buffs.” A “really big show” on a tiny Florida island, this is a high gear sensory experience that does not disappoint. For those who haven’t been and can’t make it this year, it’s one for the bucket list of any car guy or gal.

Free Events: “Cars & Coffee” Plus Downtown Display

Eight Flags Road Tour, Friday, March 11, 2016

The tour stops at various points on and around Amelia Island (departs at 8:30 am from The Ritz-Carlton main driveway). Head to Fernandina’s downtown historic district to see some rare vehicles on Fri., March 11th, parked along Centre Street. A selection of Concours vehicles will be downtown for public viewing (free), while the drivers/owners enjoy lunch. Typically, the Concours cars start pulling in downtown between 11:30 am and noon, and begin departing between 1:30 and 2 pm. So don’t miss this window of opportunity to see some splendid collector cars in downtown Fernandina.

Cars & Coffee at the Concours presented by Heacock Classic Car Insurance, is Saturday, March 12, 2016 on the 10th and 18th fairways of the Golf Club of Amelia Island, FREE ADMISSION. Invited cars from local car clubs will be on display during Cars & Coffee from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Main Concours Show Sun., March 13, 2016

Concours automobiles will be on display for the big show Sunday, March 13, 2016 only. Tickets are required for this event and to attend both seminars. Held rain or shine, tickets for the main event on Sunday, March 13, 2016 are $95 and can be purchased online in advance through Feb. 28, 2016. The price is higher for tickets purchased at the gate. General admission tickets day of event will be $120 for adults, $50 youth. For much more info about the full schedule of week-long events, and tickets, visit Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance website.

2016 Amelia Island Vintage Gran Prix

A brand new auto event happening after the Amelia Island Concours is debuting the following weekend, March 17-20, 2016. The first Amelia Island Vintage Gran Prix will be held at the Fernandina Beach Airport. Race groups will range from from pre-war up through the 1980s. According to the event website, “privately owned vintage and historic collector cars will be staged on the golf course for the Show and Shine car show. Multiple vintage airplane flyovers and vintage motorcycle demonstrations are on the schedule as well.” One day pass is $25.

By The Editor

"PERSPECTIVE" column features observations of island life, news & opinion.