Magic Bus

Magic Bus: Remembering the VW Bus in All Its Day-Glo Glory (Photos)

Something about a VW bus begged you to pick up a can of spray paint and go to work on this iconic vehicle. Alas, the portable graffiti site ceases production this year, after more than half a century. Here’s a look at some of its key roles--in the 60s counterculture, stoner cult movies, and Disney films. Was it safe? No. Was it Fun? Dude, seriously.

Something about a VW bus begged you to pick up a can of spray paint and go to work on this iconic vehicle. Alas, the portable graffiti site  ceases production this year, after more than half a century. Here’s a look at some of its key roles--in the 60s counterculture, stoner cult movies, and Disney films. Was it safe? No. Was it Fun? Dude, seriously.

Walter Sanders/Time Life Staff

The original Volkswagen Autobus, shown here in Wolfsburg, Germany in 1951, was designed to carry as many as eight people (more if clowns were involved).

AP

Concert-goers sit on the roof of a Volkswagen bus at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair at Bethel, N.Y., in August 1969. The three-day concert attracted hundreds of thousands of people, and became a landmark cultural event of the late '60s. And if you drove, you had a place to sleep.

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Further, the day-glo colored bus driven from California to New York by Ken Kesey, Neal Cassidy, and the Merry Pranksters, was not a VW microbus. It was an old schoolbus. But Further inspired countless VW bus owners to copy its paint job, like this model that turned up in San Francisco in 1967.

Peter Finger/Corbis

If you owned a VW bus, the urge to give it a trippy custom paint job of your own design was obviously overwhelming for an enormous number of owners. Here's a 1994 example in Saugerties, New York, not far from the site of the original Woodstock.

AP

A restored 1959 VW bus dubbed the "Jerry Garcia Fan Bus" sits on the launch field at the Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta as balloons are inflated and lift off behind it in 1997, in Albuquerque, N.M.

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A VW bus (sans logo) awaits the ceremonial launch of Herbie and friends at the Santa Monica Pier in 2005 in Santa Monica, California. Over 53 vintage Volkswagens traveled along the Pacific Coast Highway before starting their cross-country journey to celebrate Volkswagen's 50th anniversary and the release of Walt Disney's "Herbie Fully Loaded."

Bob Rowan/Corbis

Handcrafting your bus is a hobby that will surely last as long as the buses themselves. Here's a vintage 60s model with a yin-yang theme that made it at least to 2001, when it was captured on film in Spokane, Washington. Bumper stickers plaster the back and the windows--privacy, please!

Alexandra Wyman/Getty

Volkswagen bus enthusiasts gather for a screening of "Little Miss Sunshine" July 25, 2006 at Vineland Drive-In in City of Industry, California.

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Fair hostesses peer out of a 1966 Volkswagen Samba bus promoting the Techno Classica Fair, a vintage car show, in Essen, Germany in 2007. 

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Roger Daltrey, CBE and lead singer for The Who, launches a competition outside London's Royal Albert Hall in 2008 to win 'The Magic Bus,' named, of course, for one of The Who's best and most famous songs. The actual bus, in this case, is a unique 1965 VW camper van.

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A vintage VW bus and VW Beetles drive past Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate on April 23, 2013 to promote a new tourist attraction. Currently, visitors in the German capital may take part in an "Oldie Kaefer Tour" and either drive one of the vintage VW Kaefer (Beetle) cars or hitch a ride in a vintage VW bus.

Nigel Roddis/Getty

Sooty Shuttleworth of Bingley sits in his 1957 VW splitscreen, a former Queenwood school bus in Australia on display during the 9th annual 'In Praise Of All Things VW' Festival at Harewood House on August 18, 2013 in Leeds, England. The  festival attracts about 15,000 people and ends with a winners car parade on Sunday.

Hugo Michiels/Demotix via Corbis

A checkered entry in The Brighton Breeze 2013 Volkswagen Event on October 5, 2013 at Madeira Drive in Brighton, England.