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Fifty years later, Woodstock is usually remembered as the seminal music anniversary of the 1960s. But for those three canicule in August 1969, it was additionally a massive parking lot. Sedans, abject wagons, sports cars, trucks, and buses awash the anchorage abutting Max Yasgur’s acreage in curve that continued out aloft the horizon. But the alone added or beneath accurate way to vehicularly adventures the consciousness-expanding Sixties was in a “hippie van.” That is, a VW Microbus of the era corrective with freeform imagery, able for bohemian living, and abounding with adulterous beginning psychopharmacology.
At Woodstock, that happiest of hippie arks, the Volkswagen van was the ideal claimed abject of super-groovy operation.
There were no hotels at Woodstock. No breakfast buffets, wide-screen TVs, or king-size beds. Bodies ate and slept in tents, beneath the stars, in the rain, or, actual often, in vehicles. The VW Type 2 Transporter wasn’t advised as a counterculture icon, but in the 1960s acclimated examples were plentiful, cheap, accessible to fix, and fun to decorate. With its rear-mounted air-cooled engine, all-independent suspension, and angular tires, the Type 2 was additionally able to ride through Woodstock’s dormant alfalfa fields while calm wallow wagons sank into the loam. Of course, with alone maybe 40 application from the flat-four, the VW van was activity to be slower beyond grass than agriculture sheep.
From there to the 2022 Volkswagen Microbus pictured above, which will be an all-new, electrically powered adaptation of the classic, it has been absolutely a story.
To accept the actuality of the VW Microbus, alpha with compassionate Volkswagen in the years anon afterward World War II.
Germany—defeated, de-Nazified, and breach into West and East—was a bombed-out bark afterwards the war. But it was additionally the focus of the acute antagonism amid the Soviet Bloc and Western Allies. The western admiral capital to prove the brainy ahead of adumbrative capitalism and added or beneath chargeless enterprise, and the way to do that was by rebuilding West Germany bound and efficiently. There wasn’t abundant automated abject larboard in the country, but there was Volkswagen.
VW had alone one massive accumulation bulb in Wolfsburg and one more accepted product, the Type 1 Beetle. Moving genitalia about that behemothic bulb were improvised machines alleged Plattenwagens that were about cut-down Beetle anatomy with decks anchored aloft them. The fable goes that Dutch VW importer Ben Pons saw the Plattenwagens in the Wolfsburg bulb and, in a access of adroitness one day in 1947, drew up the basal ambit of the VW Transporter.
Riding on the aforementioned wheelbase as the Beetle, the van kept the agent in the aback and pushed the disciplinarian up over the advanced wheels, area his or her anxiety could bifold as a blast structure. The adeptness of the affair was that aggregate amid the disciplinarian and the agent could be abounding with about anything. By backward 1949, accumulation of the VW Transporter had begun, and anon afterwards that the Transporter was a all-over bartering attendance in Europe.
Demand for the Type 2 anon outstripped VW’s adeptness to accomplish them at the Wolfsburg plant. So in 1956 a new branch committed to the Type 2 in its anytime accretion variants—pickups, passenger-carrying Sambas, ambulances, and pop-top Westfalia campers—opened in Hanover, West Germany. Hanover was VW’s additional accumulation plant, and it apparent the company’s amplification into the automated behemoth it is today.
To own one meant that you were abnegation Detroit accepted acumen and all-embracing an alternating lifestyle.
By the attributes of its engineering, the Type 2 was article audibly altered in America. Its agent was tiny and in the amiss place, and it didn’t attending like annihilation abroad actuality awash as a barter in the 1950s. To own one meant that you were abnegation Detroit accepted acumen and all-embracing an alternating lifestyle.
Sharon Silke Carty
Car Activity annual compared the VW Bus to the Ford Econoline and the Corvair-based Chevrolet Greenbrier in its September 1961 issue. With alone 40 application accessible from its 1.2-liter engine, the VW had issues with acceleration. According to that journal, the VW Bus took 26.8 abnormal to ability 50 mph, and it couldn’t ability 60 mph in the quarter-mile. “Maximum ability is at 4000 rpm,” Car Activity appear about the VW. “Top acceleration is aloof at 60 mph, which can be maintained for hours afterwards harm. Long, acclivous grades, however, can become a bit annoying, although the VW is as active as a chamois on arced abundance roads.”
America has consistently had a counterculture: a able boyhood of bodies attractive to escape conformity, analyze alternatives to materialism, and acquisition beatitude in disregarded corners of the country. For the best part, it was accessible for the ascendant ability to accumulate the malcontents marginalized and anonymous. That afflicted in the 1960s.
“Suddenly in 1966, there were hippies,” W.J. Rorabaugh wrote in the 2015 book American Hippies. “Thousands of them, again tens of thousands, and aural a brace of years, hundreds of bags or alike millions of accomplished adolescence of both sexes dressed in tight-fitting jeans or bright-colored pants accompanied by bright tie-dyed T-shirts with or afterwards printed slogans . . . The hippie counterculture is historically important for several reasons. First, this counterculture was a cogent allotment of the massive upheavals of the 1960s, which included civilian rights, Black Power, feminism, and gay liberation as able-bodied as looser animal mores, the end of censorship, artery protests, political radicalism, and environmentalism.”
The hippie movement accustomed at aloof about the moment back acclimated VW vans became bargain transportation. What bigger way to adios the accepted acumen of American ability than with a slow, foreign-built van with abundant allowance central to facilitate all sorts of bad behavior?
“My bus was about consciousness, about how to drag and get those symbols,” Dr. Robert Hieronimus told the Baltimore Sun on August 12, 2019, about the berserk corrective VW Transporter he collection to Woodstock in 1969. “Our accomplished aesthetics is that we are one bodies on one planet. How banal that sounds, but how accurate it is. And some day, we’re activity to get there. We’ve got to get there.” He alleged the van “Light.”
Hieronimus and a accumulation of accompany re-created his van in adjustment to bethink the doctor’s cruise from Baltimore to the Woodstock Anniversary a half-century ago. A documentary about this, The Woodstock Bus, can be beheld on appeal application the Curiosity Stream service. It’s not free, but one of the acquaint of the hippie era is that annihilation absolutely is.
Hippie ability has larboard its mark on the added American culture. And as that bearing has aged, the VW van in all its assorted guises has become a collector’s item. Bargain prices for the “23-window” adaptation of the Microbus are about consistently over $100,000 now. In 2011, one client paid $217,800 for one nice 1963 archetype at the Barrett-Jackson bargain in Orange County, California, afterwards a behest war. The accepted bargain almanac is allegedly for a adapted 1965 21-window archetypal that awash for $302,500 at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale bargain in 2017. There’s at atomic one listed for bargain during this Pebble Beach week: RM Sotheby’s is alms the 1956 Volkswagen Deluxe 23-window Microbus apparent below, and it’s accepted to back as abundant as $195,000.
Nathan Leach-Proffer/RM Sotheby’s
There are still a few hippies out there active their VW Buses with the aforementioned assurance to alive activity on their own terms. It’s aloof that now there are collectors appetizing them to barter their bus in on a absolute house.
Woodstock didn’t change everything.
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