VW’s Iconic “Light” Bus Re-Creation Is A Far Out Trip, Man

We dig air-cooled Volkswagens.  In fact, your humble author learned to drive a stick shift on a 1967 Beetle. I will forever remember the smell, the wonky heater, and charm of tootling around town in an underpowered, but nimble old jalopy.

The Beetle is essentially a fat-fendered coupe, and has endeared itself to old car fans and builders over the years. The bus — especially 23-window Sambas— are bringing stupid money these days easily trading hands for well over six-figures.

The coolness of air-cooled V-dubs is well known and its connection with alternative culture will be indelibly etched to these Volkswagens ’til the end of time.

Now, depending on your ideology and political affiliations, that could either be a nostalgia trip back to the good old days, or a prickly reminder of a kooky hippie era that started our country down a rabbit hole we still find ourselves in today.

They say you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a boat and float right up next to it. Commensurately, you can’t go back in time, but you could easily buy an old car and resuscitate a sliver of yesterday.

And with that, check out this re-creation of a psychedelic old stoner bus from Woodstock that re-captures a long gone slice of American pop culture.

Herndon, VA – After more than 50 years, the iconic ‘Light’ bus — a Volkswagen Type 2 van made world famous after its appearance at the legendary 1969 Woodstock Art and Music Fair — will ride again, thanks to help from Volkswagen of America and the greater Volkswagen community.

Artist Dr. Bob Hieronimus, who painted the original Light bus, will unveil a recreation of the legendary bus this weekend at the Orange Country Transporter Organization (O.C.T.O.) Winter Meet in Long Beach, California. Volkswagen fans, auto enthusiasts, and art aficionados alike can view the hand-painted art piece from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Long Beach Veteran’s Memorial Stadium. This will be the first public unveiling of the replica of the Woodstock icon and the premiere stop of its scheduled cross-country tour leading up to the music festival’s 50th anniversary.

The eye-popping van is the result of a three-year endeavor with Hieronimus and Canadian documentarian John Wesley Chisholm to recover and recreate the van ahead of Woodstock’s milestone anniversary. “It’s a time machine that takes people to the past, through the present and to the future,” says Chisholm.

Hieronimus had painted the original 1963 Standard Microbus in 1968, after an invitation from the van’s owner, who was using it to haul his band to the festival and wanted a ‘magic bus.’ It became a symbol of the Woodstock Art and Music Fair and greater generational call for peace, love, and unity after a snapshot of the van by the Associated Press was widely circulated in newspapers and magazines across the country. The van even appeared in the liner of the official Woodstock album.

While the VW bus had already been a favorite among young people seeking efficient ways to travel the country, the Light van covered with Hieronimus’s phalanx of hand-painted symbols and psychedelic shapes captured a unique moment of American culture.

“The bus is really about being one people on one planet,” says Hieronimus, who is also a symbologist. “On every side of the bus is a story — many stories — and the stories all point to unification, working together, and a higher conscientiousness, which is what Light really is all about.”

Originally, the pair hoped to locate and restore the original Light bus, but after a six-month search came up empty, they decided to build a replica. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter effort, the pair was able to acquire an exact model of the original Light bus and begin a painstaking restoration process, including a six-week effort by Hieronimus and a team of five artists to recreate the original paintings from the bus.

After learning about the project, Volkswagen of America supported the search and restoration process. A team of Volkswagen fans have also helped bring the project to fruition, offering their services and jumping in to assist the duo.

“It’s a living room on wheels that you can outfit any way you want, and transports you and your family, however you define family, wherever you want to go,” says Chisholm.

Be sure and check out VW for more info.

 

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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