The return of the iconic ‘Light’ bus

After more than 50 years, the iconic ‘Light’ bus, a Volkswagen Type 2 bus made world famous after its appearance at the legendary 1969 Woodstock Festival, rides again, thanks to a little 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 Organisation (OCTO) Winter Meet in Long Beach, California. 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 endeavour with Hieronimus and Canadian documentarian John Wesley Chisholm to recover and recreate the van ahead of Woodstock’s milestone anniversary.

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 press was widely circulated in newspapers and magazines across the States. The van even appeared in the liner of the official Woodstock album. 

While the VW bus had already been a favourite 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. 

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.