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Monday, 11 February 2019 23:18

On the Lighter Side: Psychedelic Celebrity Cars of the 1960s

Written by Ian Harvey, The Vintage News
Janis Joplin's Porsche Janis Joplin's Porsche Sam Howzit CC BY 2.0


For some, the 1960s were all about rebellion — rebellion against the conservative 1950s, against the war in Vietnam, and pretty much everything run by “the Establishment.” Young people made their voices heard and refused to accept outdated customs and rules.


Music, especially, reflected the times with Motown, protest songs, and psychedelic music and images. The ’60s produced some of the most talented and influential musicians of modern times.


The newfound wealth of some of these young musicians found its way to luxury automobiles. Eric Clapton had a custom made Ferrari, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame had a 1965 Aston Martin, and Jimi Hendrix drove a 1968 Corvette.


There are three vehicles in particular from the ’60s that stand out the most because of their custom paint jobs. In 1968 Janis Joplin bought a Porsche 356C and had one of her stage hands paint it in a psychedelic theme including butterflies, birds, mushrooms, and landscapes that made it one of a kind.


She drove it around San Francisco, and it was easy to spot where she was. After Janis’ death in 1970, her sister and brother shared ownership of the car. The unique paint job began to flake off, and it was repainted in gray.


Some time later, the family hired artists to restore the unusual paint job, and in 1995 the car was loaned to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.


It was put up for auction in 2015, and, according to, sold for $1.15 million at Sotheby’s in New York City to a Michigan man. The siblings planned to donate the proceeds to charities in Janis’s name.


In 1962, novelist Ken Kesey, author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," bought a 1939 International Harvester yellow school bus. He had decided to drive to New York from California in 1964.


As more and more friends decided to join him, he realized he would need a large vehicle to carry his “Merry Band of Pranksters.”

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