Rising from the dead: The original Woodstock VW Lightbus
They say you can’t go back but original Woodstock participant has tried to replicate the original VW wagon that made a big impact 50 years ago.
Ahead of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, the most famous music festival ever, that took place in Bethel, just over 50 miles from Woodstock in New York State, USA, an original festival-goer has rebuilt a new version of the legendary VW Camper Bus that graced the artwork of the Woodstock album soundtrack.
Back in 1969, Robert Richard Hieronimus, PhD, a.k.a. Dr. Bob, designed a mural for what became known as the Woodstock Bus while living in a commune just outside Baltimore in Maryland. Unlike many, he managed to actually get through the traffic to the festival.
It was originally created for a local band called The Light, and became known as the Light Bus.
At the festival it’s psychedelic design and slogans of the times made it a draw to festival goers, who took lots of pictures of it, propelling it to be used on the Woodstock soundtrack artwork.
Fast-forward 50 years and Dr. Bob is the star of a new documentary called The Woodstock Bus that charts the efforts to find the original bus, last seen in 1972, buy it, restore it and take it back to Woodstock.
Unfortunately, after six months of searching, the team found that the bus no longer exists, which was no great surprise to Dr. Bob who said he’d originally paid $44 USD for it and gone through four engines between 1969 and 1972 and when he last saw it, it had a hole in the floor.
So, plan B was set in motion, to build as exact a replica as possible, with the help of Microbus restorers and a team of artists to recreate the visuals.
With so many variations of windows, seats and doors linked to VW’s Type 2 model this was not easy either, further complicated by changes to the 1963 model during its first year that made the specification of the original bus incredibly rare.
They finally found an authentic model in Palo Alto, California which was restored by Skinners Restorations in Vacaville in just three weeks.
It’s to be unveiled at SoCal VW Week in June and will travel from Baltimore to Woodstock in August and if the 50th anniversary festival led by original organiser Michael Lang goes ahead that month, Dr.Bob will complete a full circle displaying a bus with the Woodstock festival messages of peace, love and understanding once again.
Ben Salisbury is an experienced journalist and has covered the automotive sector for Yahoo! and also writes about the business of selling cars covering the rise of the online marketplace.