Lucy in the Sky Rolls On

Lucy, an iconic VW van of 1967 vintage is twenty-three years older than her owner, Stefan Formentano. With a gleaming red and white exterior and customized matching interior, Lucy is unmistakable around town with her jaunty surfboard mounted atop the luggage rack.


“People leave notes on my van all the time,” he grins, “and hang out their windows and flash me peace signs.”


Before Stefan turned sixteen, he had picked out Lucy online, but didn’t dream his dad, Alfredo, would bring Lucy all the way from Monterey, Calif. As his birthday neared, his mother, Shauna, drove past a local shopping center where he glimpsed the very van he wanted with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it.


When they excitedly pulled over to check it out, friends and family jumped out shouting “surprise.” Lucy, named after the Beatles Sgt. Pepper album song, has been Stefan’s daily wheels ever since.


Stefan is the second oldest of five home-schooled children, all of whom share musical interests, play multiple instruments and took piano lessons growing up. Even Stefan’s musical preferences date from the time of Lucy’s prime—Billy Joel, The Eagles, The Who, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Bob Marley wails his favorite bus tunes on the road.


“My dream road trip,” Stefan notes, “would be to drive Lucy out to California and down the coast.”


Note Lucy’s custom headlight shades and the windshield panels that can be opened from the inside. He and his dad do all the simple maintenance themselves. “People always stop to help me if I break down or need a boost. When you drive a classic car you become a member of an unspoken society.”


Stefan belongs to the Dixie Vintage Auto Club that meets first Saturdays at Krispy Kreme in Hoover and also attends “cruise-ins” of the Central Alabama VW Club.


“This vehicle has opened so many doors for me,” Stefan says. “It has literally changed who I am by helping me meet new people and by reminding me to slow down and enjoy the little things.”

Photos © Laura Brookhart 2009

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