Rich Henry, owner of Henry’s Rabbit Ranch on Route 66 in Staunton, Ill., recently acquired a 1967 Volkswagen station wagon once used by Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire, who died of cancer in December 2009.
Henry says the car will be displayed on his property, where other large Route 66 memorabilia have found a home.
Most people remember Waldmire in a 1972 Volkswagen Type 2 van, in which he roamed Route 66 and peddled his intricate artwork. But before the van, Waldmire drove the ’67 VW for 13 years, until he “retired” it in 1985.
The car was taken off the road a few years before the publication of Michael Wallis’ bestselling book, “Route 66: The Mother Road,” and before the revival of Route 66. Few roadies hold memories of that car.
However, that car now will be the subject of new memories, now that Henry will display it at his Rabbit Ranch.
Henry said in an email that the ailing Waldmire instructed family members to give the car and its paperwork to Henry if he was interested.
Some months ago, the VW wagon was loaded onto a trailer and taken to Henry’s place.
Henry said of the vehicle:
The ’67 is too far gone for restoration, but it can be preserved in its present condition. I am going to see if I can get it running this spring. It is here out front where the travelers can see it.
Henry installed new tires and rims because the old rims were rusted out. He said he wants to sell each old tire with the rim attached as a way to raise funds to help preserve the VW:
The tires are unique in themselves. They are Uniroyal tires. The lettering of the uniroyal on the tires are blue. Whoever would be donating for a piece of 66 history would have to pickup the tires / rims here or be responsible to having shipment arranged.
Probably the best way to handle it would be have the people contact me first either at Route66(at)midwest(dot)net or 1-618-635-5655 from 9am-4pm Central time. The first four with a reasonable / fair donation would then have to send the donation within 5 days of our mutual confirmation.
The old VW contains several strong clues it was Waldmire’s — namely, bumper stickers that hailed his favorite causes. One says “You can’t hug a child with nuclear arms.” Another says: “Extinct species are not born again.” Another admonishes drivers to yield to animals in the road.
I’m glad Henry is saving this car. And I sure hope he can get the old VW running so he can take it for a spin. Bob would like that.
(Photos courtesy of Rich Henry)