The 1963 Volkswagen 'Light Bus' Is How You Do Automotive Art

With the 50th anniversary of Woodstock nearly upon us, it was only a matter of time before Volkswagen released a commemorative vehicle acknowledging the Microbus. The Type 2, a staple of the hippie movement, was frequently found painted in psychedelic patterns and hues. Case in point is the “Light Bus,” which appeared in numerous photos of the 1969 Woodstock Art and Music Fair — including the official Woodstock album — and became emblematic of the moment.

Driven by (and named after) the Baltimore-based band that drove it, the vehicle eventually vanished into obscurity.

Three years ago, artist Dr. Bob Hieronimus and Canadian documentarian John Wesley Chisholm sought to acquire the van, hoping to restore it to its former glory. Unfortunately, a six-month search turned up no trace of the van, so the two made do with an unmolested 1963 VW Standard Microbus sourced via a crowd-funding campaign. It may not be the Type 2 that attended the historic music festival, but the attention to detail here barely makes that an issue.

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  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Cory. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.