Original Grateful Dead Art Car Takes Bidders on Historic Trip

Share Article

Michaan’s Auctions hosts historic automobile auction on Nov. 6.

Auction House Bay Area

Auction House Bay Area

Rock music is here to stay, with heavy hitters like The Grateful Dead going down in rock ‘n’ roll history. Perhaps the holy grail of any rock ‘n’ roll collection or piece of Grateful Dead memorabilia lies in one culturally-historic automobile, known as “The Dred.” It is very rare in today’s collecting world that a music celebrity-owned, iconic and culturally-important automobile shows up after 45 years. “The Dred” represents a frozen moment in time that references the Summer of Love of 1966, the early Grateful Dead, Owsley, LSD, rock ‘n’ roll music and ‘60s automobile art cars. Michaan’s is pleased to present such a historic automobile at auction on Nov. 6.

The Grateful Dead’s newly-discovered first band truck from 1966 is an über-important collector vehicle. It is an automotive representation of a historical time, complete with the key players of the counterculture revolution. Originally purchased by Owsley Stanley in 1966 to move The Grateful Dead’s band equipment, Stanley (known as the father of LSD) was also The Dead’s first manager and original soundman.

The infamous automobile was developed by Stanley, along with the drug LSD and the notorious Wall-of-Sound audio equipment for The Dead. The Studebaker truck became the first of The Grateful Dead’s early “Caravan of Six” band vehicles, which included The Dead’s original Sweet Magnolia tour bus. Dead Heads may also remember the lyric from the song “Truckin,” “...what a long, strange trip it’s been...” and fondly link it to “The Dred.”

This piece of automotive culture assumes a high degree of historic reference, relevance and romance not found in most vintage collector vehicles of any price. To put this vehicle in context, it is comparable in stature only to iconic ‘60s counterculture vehicles such as Janis Joplin’s 1965 Porsche, John Lennon’s painted ’60s Rolls-Royce and of course, Ken Kesey’s ‘60s Merry Pranksters bus, also known as “Further.”

Along with published information, Stanley himself has stated that his red 1949 one-ton Studebaker truck was officially known in the Bay Area and in Dead circles as “The Dred" or the "Dredded Dormammu.” Named by Stanley after a Marvel Comic book character, this truck was used by him and The Dead to move their audio gear to local gigs. As Stanley has stated, it was also used to move The Dead's audio gear to L.A. in 1966 for their first L.A. recording dates, as well as for an appearance at the Acid Tests held in the suburb of Watts.

After Stanley's imprisonment in 1970 on charges of manufacturing LSD, the truck was given to an artist friend in Berkeley. His friend applied the current, original psychedelic-style paint job partially over the Stanley-commissioned red paint job. The car was then entered into the first Cosmic Car Show in Berkeley, California in 1970.

The paint job retains the original early art car paint, which visually identifies it as part of the rolling revolution of the ‘60s era. Stored for decades, it has remained in the possession of Stanley's friend from 1970 until 2012. It was then discovered hidden in a barn in its preserved visual state. Fully documented by the previous owners, including Owsley Stanley (aka “Bear”), this iconic truck and its multiple original connections to mid-century cultural history present an extremely rare opportunity for important vehicle ownership.

The illustrated auction catalog will be posted online at http://www.michaans.com when it becomes available. Previews open at Michaan’s Auctions on Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, as well as the day of sale, Nov. 6. Mid-century modern inquiries can be made to Mr. Greg Favors at (510) 227-2524. For general information please call (510) 740-0220 ext. 0 or e-mail info@michaans.com. Michaan’s Auctions is located at 2751 Todd St., Alameda, CA 94501.

Special viewing will be at the Annex Warehouse from October 31 - November 2 and by appointment.

About the company:
Michaan's Auctions is a leading, full-service auction house on the West Coast specializing in the appraisal and sale of antiques and fine art. Some of Michaan's specialty departments include Asian Works of Art, Furniture and Decorative Arts, Modern & Contemporary European and American Paintings/Prints and Jewelry. Established in 2002, Michaan's Auctions holds up to 30 sales each year that attract a broad base of buyers and consignors the world over. With one of the largest facilities in Northern California, Michaan's offers buyers the ability to preview and bid on many unique and desirable pieces. Their team of specialists is dedicated to staying current on the latest issues and developments in the market. For more information, visit their website at http://www.michaans.com/.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Talesa Eugenio
Visit website