Star Cars: Janis, Jimi and Jim

by John R. Paul

May 14, 2013

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.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin Porsche

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.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix Corvette

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.

Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison Shelby Mustang

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.

 

Comments

  1. Randy South Carolina

    Oh heck yes!!! The 1960's and 1970's were all about rock-n-roll and cool wheels. It was the epitome of a moment for music and horsepower in this great country and I was so lucky to have grown up in it. I still have the Gibson bass guitar I purchased in 1973 that used to go EVERYWHERE with me. And today that guitar rides in the back seat of my 71 Dart Swinger and is always a part of the display when that car is shown. Very cool story.... Hot rods and rock-n-roll... It just don't get any better than that!

  2. David Jennings Wichita Ks

    A guy here in Wichita thinks he may have Morrison's GT500.

  3. Somer Dixie

    Jim Morrison also had a Honda Scrambler painted by Von Dutch.

  4. Brian Adams Reno, NV

    That would be a "Super 90" engine in Janis' 356, not "90 Super." Also referred to as "S-90." It was nominally 90 HP (DIN) vs the Super 75 which inhabited the mere "Super" cars.

  5. Paul Wilczynski Bay City, MI

    Is the picture of Jimi in his first or second Corvette? The photo is grainy but the lock looks to be 1969 or later style. Just a lock not the 1968 button / lock.

  6. larry shaw toccoa, ga

    This article sure brought back some fond memories. As a young rocker growing up in NY,a close friend of mine had an uncle who was Jimi Hendrix's limo driver when he was in town. Not only was he able to get us back stage passes for his shows but one day he showed up at my friends house with a silver metalflake corvette, license plate JIMI. Needless to say we were thrilled to find out that it was actually his vette that Hendrix had asked the uncle to watch for him while he was touring, but when the uncle said it was ok for us to take it for a short drive, we nearly passed out.After taking a short 15 minute cruise on the newly built Oyster Bay Expressway, we couldn't wait to tell all our friends about the experience.......of course nobody believed us but at least we knew better. I do recall being disappointed that Hendrix would order a 427 vette with an automatic transmission.............

  7. Jim McKinney Mountain Home, AR

    " O lord won't you buy me a 356C "

  8. verg florida

    About the Morrison Shelby. the serial number is known by a few people, and they are not talking. I have been thru the registry and have narrowed it down to about ten or so cars built like his that are currently un accounted for!! I sure would like to see his original registration

  9. Diego NYC

    The 1968 Corvette was never called a "Sting Ray" as in previous years, nor was it called "Stingray" as in 1969 and later.

  10. WHIP NJ

    Great story,I to was around in the 60&70's loved all three of thier music.I have a 66 Impala SS and hope to keep it cherry until I'm to old to drive it.

  11. martin ohio

    That would not be a 90 super or a super 90. Those both came in"B" 356s. The C cars came with a C or SC engine- Janice had the "C" which was 75 hp DIN, an engine similar but not identical to the previous model's S or Super.

  12. frank nj

    I saw Hendrix in his sparkle silver vette with cal plates in nyc's village in 1970. I waved and jammed my "axis..." 8 track in the player. it might have been the night the stereo iwith the wooden home speakers on the rear deck n my '71 vw type 3 fb was stolen.

  13. daryl judd spokane, washington

    There were a few Doors commemorative diecast cars made including a 1969 Charger with psychedelic graphics and the 1967 Mustang Shelby GT 500 in blue but the interior of the diecast was black. These are part of a rather extensive diecast & plastic model collection I have proudly accumulated starting in about 1960. My collection also includes many Ed Roth Rat Fink and other Roth cars. The 60's & 70's were so much fun. I actually shed a few tears when it was announced Hendrix & Morrison were gone.

  14. John Elko Redding CA

    The title “Star Cars” invoked a different thought for me. Back in the 20's, Durant manufactured the Star Cars. The Star was a competitor to Ford’s Model T. Recently I went into a NAPA auto parts store in Corning CA, and found seven Star Cars of the late 20's on display. In about 1920, a Grandfather of an employee of the Agency I worked for took his family of 10 kids to the California State Fair. He entered a contest sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce to find the largest family in California. The purpose was to encourage big families to populate and expand California. He won the prize, a Star 4 door phaeton or touring car. The keys were presented to him by the Governor of the State. Parts of the Durant factory building still exist in Oakland California, and there is a small museum display that contains a Star Car. Last time I was there, the remaining factory building only contained a bunch of permanent flea market venders. The original brick administrative building is used for rental business offices.

  15. Brent Stritar Arizona

    Got a 356C for my 50th birthday. Always get more coments on it then my Boxster.

  16. David Curenton Barrington, RI

    Why do people like to think they are really "on the trail" of something because they "think" they know the serial number of the Morrison Shelby that is only known by a "few" people. The number is clearly printed in the SAAC Registry, no James Bond detective work necessary, no need to "narrow it down", and no need to "think " you own the car. The Shelby VIN is 67402F2U00939, completed by Ford on the San Jose production line on 02-07-1967 and completed by Shelby American on 03-20-1967 then shipped on 06-27-1967 to University Ford Sales in Champaign, IL before being shipped again on 09-29-1967 to Stockton-Quincy Ford in Westwood, CA. The registration was sold on Ebay a few years back and a photocopy of it appeared in The Shelby American Magazine shortly thereafter. Find a new hobby. A detective you ain't.

  17. Kelly Waldrop United States

    There is a super 8mm of Jimi driving the 69 corvette. I have it. Across saw a contact sheet with several photos of Jimi in the car from the same session as the photo pictured on this site. the Corvette was sold to Manny after Jimi's death. Manny of Manny's Music Store in NY were Jimi purchased some of his guitars. The car then was put up for sale but sadly was stolen.