The famous Volkswagen “Light” bus, a beloved icon of the 1969 Woodstock Art and Music Fair, is hitting the road after nearly 50 years.
In 1968, the owner of a VW microbus asked the artist Dr. Bob Hieronimus to give the vehicle a psychedelic makeover—he wanted a “magic bus” that could haul his band, Light, to shows. When Associated Press photos of the bus at Woodstock were nationally syndicated, the Light bus became a symbol of a generation’s call for peace, love, and understanding.
Three years ago, Hieronimus teamed up with John Wesley Chisholm, a Canadian documentarian, to find and restore the original bus in time for Woodstock’s 50th anniversary. But they had no luck locating the original—it was most likely scrapped for parts.
Since the counterculture era, well-maintained VW buses have become collectors’ items. In 2017, one Type 2 sold at auction for more than $300,000. That’s a little out of the hippie-artist price range. But after an impressive Kickstarter campaign where they raised over $90,000, the pair was able to procure an exact model of the Volkswagen Type 2 van—they found it rusting in a field in Tennessee.
With the help of mechanics from East Coast VW Restorations in St. Augustine Florida—masters in restoring vintage WVs—and the assistance of five other artists, Hieronimus was able to recreate all of the original artwork on the new Light bus.
The Light bus will take a cross-country tour on its way to Woodstock, though the schedule is still being worked out. Chisholm, meanwhile, is looking much further down the road than Woodstock’s golden anniversary.
On the Light bus’ website, he explains that he and Hieronimus want to find a “forever home” for the magic bus: “Somewhere that the bus can be kept in running order so that some peace-loving young people can get in, turn it on, and head out to Woodstock for the 100th anniversary in, what I like to imagine, will be a peaceful, happy world still inspired and fascinated by the 1960’s peace movement.”
Keep your eyes out for the magic bus—it might be passing through your town this summer.