A 1949 Studebaker truck used to transport sound equipment to early Grateful Dead shows is expected to fetch up to $500,000 at an auction that began Thursday in Alameda.
The late Owsley Stanley, who was Grateful Dead's sound man and "personal chemist," purchased the truck in 1966. He used it to help the band haul around gear for four years — right up until he went to prison for manufacturing LSD.
Telesa Eugenio of Michaan's Auctions told San Jose Mercury News that people have emailed to inquire "if they can lick the steering wheel. Others have asked can they search it in case he left anything hidden inside."
The truck's current owner Steve Cabella, who is the proprietor of San Anselmo's Modern I gallery, found the truck in the estate of late artist William Clark. It had been stored in a backyard barn for years. Though the truck sports the same Deadhead-friendly psychedelic paint job it has had since the early 1970s, it was red when Stanley turned it over to his friend Clark before turning himself in to begin a prison sentence.
Cabella, who created a website in tribute to The Dred, admitted to classic car blog Hemmings Daily that he actually bought the car because he is a Studebaker enthusiast. He didn't discover the Grateful Dead connection until after the sale, when he was given a note from Stanley.
Cabella also learned at that time that it had been called The Dred "because it was a bitch to drive." Another nickname, Dredded Dormammu, was in reference to an early Marvel Comics villain.
There has long been a culture of Grateful Dead collectors who will pay top dollar for the right artifacts. One eight-piece set of skull sketches produced for the group's 1968 "Memorial" concerts in San Francisco, for example, was recently listed on eBay for close to $700,000.