Star Cars: Janis, Jimi and Jim
Jimi Hendrix in his second Chevrolet Corvette
Janis Joplin with her 1956 Porsche 356C Cabriolet
Jim Morrison driving his 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500
They’ve become engrained in our cultural mythos for rocking hard and dying young, each at the age of 27. But what most don’t think about when it comes to Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison is that they all shared an affinity for cars, each having a surprisingly discerning eye when it came to their ride of choice.
She may have immortalized her love for Mercedes-Benz on the eponymous track from her final album Pearl, but Janis Joplin’s heart belonged to her 1965 Porsche 356C Cabriolet.
The 356C was the immediate predecessor to the 911 and Joplin’s ’65 was one of the final 356Cs manufactured, the rest having been turned into the newly developed 911. Joplin bought the car used in 1967 after her albums started selling thanks to an appearance with Big Brother and the Holding Company at the Monterey Pop Festival.
Not just any old 356C, Joplin’s particular car was one of only 14,166 produced and featured one of the more desirable configurations in the form of a convertible with disc brakes and a 90 Super engine. All of this paled in comparison, of course, to the psychedelic paintwork that soon consumed the exterior of the formerly Oyster White Porsche.
One iconic photo shows Joplin seated cross-legged on the hood of her hippie-fied beauty, by far one of the most instantly recognizable Porsches of all time. Sadly, the original paint began to flake severely in the years following her death. The car was repainted a more neutral gray in the late ‘70s after being returned to her family. As a tribute to their departed sister, Joplin’s siblings had a replica of the original paintwork crafted on the vehicle, returning it to its previous flower power glory. Today it resides in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
It’s a well-known fact that James Marshall Hendrix, better known as “Jimi,” was a fan of the iconic Fender Stratocaster. What isn’t common knowledge was his affinity for Chevrolet Corvettes. During his short time in the spotlight, Hendrix owned not one, but two Vettes.
His first, a Stingray, was purchased in Cleveland in 1968 while on tour with his band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, in support of their recently released masterpiece Axis: Bold As Love. Sadly, after less than a year, Hendrix totaled the car following a long night of heavy partying. Undeterred, and with his insurance claim filed, Hendrix took delivery of a replacement Corvette.
This second Corvette, in Cortez Silver, remained in Hendrix’s possession until his death, after which it was sold to cover mounting bills faced by his estate. From there the trail goes cold, with the car’s whereabouts currently unknown.
The Lizard King himself, James Douglas Morrison, was well known for alcoholic excess and his penchant for leather pants. It may come as a surprise to some, then, that his taste in cars ran strictly American. Following the 1967 success of The Doors’ single “Light My Fire,” Morrison was given a potent new ’67 Shelby Mustang GT500 by Elektra Records head Jac Holzman.
Affectionately dubbed “The Blue Lady,” Morrison’s GT500 came with a parchment interior, Night Mist Blue metallic body, a 428 Police Interceptor with dual quad Holley carbs, and four-speed transmission. Along with everything else in his life, Morrison was rather hard on the car, as evidenced in several short film clips showing him tearing through the desert and down lonely stretches of highway shortly before his death.
As with Hendrix’s Corvette, Morrison’s Shelby GT500 has been lost. The subject of many dead-end rumors, the car’s true fate remains a mystery.