Psychedelic Volkswagen Microbus from Woodstock returns for an encore

What’s more symbolic of the 1960s than a Volkswagen Microbus? How about a Volkswagen Microbus with a psychedelic paint scheme that appeared at the 1969 Woodstock festival? The VW “Light” bus became a star of Woodstock alongside The Who and Jimi Hendrix, and 50 years later it’s getting a new lease on life.

Volkswagen teamed up with Dr. Bob Hieronimus, the artist who painted the original Light bus, to create a replica. The resurrected Microbus will make its public debut at the Orange County Transporter Organization Winter Meet, a car show for VW Microbuses in Long Beach, California. The Light bus will then set off on a cross-country tour coinciding with Woodstock’s 50th anniversary.

Hieronimus painted the original Light bus, a 1963 model, in 1968 at the invitation of the vehicle’s owner. He wanted a “magic bus” to transport his band to Woodstock. The Light bus achieved fame when a photo of it was circulated by the Associated Press, ending up in newspapers and magazines around the country. The bus also appeared in the liner of the official Woodstock album.

With the 50th anniversary of Woodstock approaching, Hieronimus and Canadian documentarian John Wesley Chisholm set out to resurrect the Light bus. They originally tried to find and restore the original vehicle, but after a six-month search turned up nothing, they decided to build a replica, according to a Volkswagen press release. An identical Microbus was secured through a Kickstarter campaign, and Volkswagen subsequently pledged its support after learning of the project.

Officially called the Type 2, the Microbus went into production in 1950, and versions of it were still being built in Brazil through the end of 2013. In the 1960s, it vehicles served as cheap utilitarian transportation, as well as a canvas for artists like Hieronimus. The Microbus’ connection to that vibrant decade, and its distinctive looks, made it a pop culture icon. Original models made from 1950 to 1967, like the Light bus, are now valuable collectibles.

Volkswagen will soon bring back the Microbus, but with some modern upgrades. In 2022 it will launch a production version of the I.D. Buzz, a concept car with styling inspired by the original Microbus, but with an all-electric powertrain. Like the original Microbus, the I.D. Buzz will be sold in passenger and cargo-van configurations. It will be part of a family of new VW electric cars launching over the next few years.

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