Home » A Simple Paint Job Transforms the VW ID.Buzz From Surf Cutie To Scary German Robot

A Simple Paint Job Transforms the VW ID.Buzz From Surf Cutie To Scary German Robot

Vw Id Buzz Friend Foe Ts
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Ah, the Volkswagen Type 2. The beloved Kombi became an icon of summer roadtrips, surf culture, and the hippie movement of the 1960s. It’s thus only natural that VW would try and recapture that sunny, fun-loving aesthetic for the ID.Buzz electric van. And yet, the ID.Buzz has held a terrible secret all along. Hiding under those cute retro paint jobs is a sinister, evil van just waiting to get out.

I haven’t gone crazy. I’ve just seen that Swiss solar company Helion has purchased a fleet of 100 VW ID.Buzz Cargo vans. The company is eager to run its vehicle fleet as cleanly as possible by charging the vans using locally-generated solar power. Switching to EVs made sense for the company, which primarily operates over short distances in metropolitan areas. But what really caught my eye here was the paint job the company has chosen.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

On the surface, it’s one of the more basic commercial vehicle liveries we’ve seen. The majority of the van is painted white, save for a flash of blue on the rear cargo area. Up front, the front bumper and fenders are painted black. It’s nothing wild, and yet it totally transforms the look of the vehicle.

Helion Id Buzz

See, in the promotional materials for the launch of the ID.Buzz, there was an upbeat, joyous vibe. Volkswagen showed us the new model rocking colorful two-tone paintjobs that seemed to harken back to the glory days of the Kombi. Sure, the color palette was more modern, and the wheels and grille were those of a cutting-edge EV, but it worked. There were enough little details that harkened back to the 1960s to charm our pants off. [And Jason digs it! Read his First Drive here – PV]
Img 2485 Large Copy

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Take away the color and the sweet lines, though, and suddenly the ID.Buzz wears an altogether different visage. Parked in rows in a dark, grim warehouse, the Helion vans look ready to march out. Their black bumpers are akin to the chinstraps of the helmets of the UCF soldiers in Starship Troopers

Helion Übergabevent 0073justiert 1 74833807 (1)

Starship Troopers Vw Van 2 Copy

But mostly, it’s the eyes. The headlights are narrowed into a menacing glare. It makes the face of the ID.Buzz like something you’d see on a robot hunter from the future.

It’s all down to how Volkswagen chose to design the van. If we take in the promotional shots of the sunny, happy ID.Buzz, we get a retro feeling. That’s largely down to details like the paint job and the little strakes on the rear… E-pillar? Meanwhile, the front end says “future!” because it uses modern lighting designs and the perforated grille.

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Small 16562 Three Rowid.buzz
Aw, fun on the beach! Look at those classic mid-century details on the E-pillar!

 

Vlcsnap 2024 01 31 11h57m35s466
In contrast: AHHHH! It actually looks like this thing has pupils gazing out with pure evil!

VW could have gone a different route that would have preserved a friendlier image irrespective of the livery. It could have chosen a rounder headlight design, kind of like the Fiat 500 in both its original and reimagined guises.

Round headlights always tend to read less threatening, unless you combine them with some kind of eyebrow element to change the communicated emotion. People regularly do this with Jeep Wranglers, with stationary eye covers to give their big beefy four-wheeler a more aggressive look. Based on an idea from Peter, I learned that you could make round headlights look happy or angry depending on how you positioned a set of prosthetic eyebrows.

The ID.Buzz can’t be so readily reconfigured, however. Those headlights are set into a menacing glare from the factory. Front on, with the bumper painted in a contrasting color, it’s kind of hard to get away from. But what if we changed things up?

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Stock 1
The factory headlights are a bit GRR, no? This almost reminds me of a grinning Jack o’ Lantern.

Friendly 1

I decided to whip up a round headlight design instead. It’s much more neutral, even friendly! Plus, the round lights allow for the expression of a variety of emotions. All you need to do is stick on some eyebrows and you can configure your ID.Buzz to present however you think is appropriate.

Id Buzz Emotions
One day I’ll develop a mechanical eyebrow system capable of displaying a full range of emotions at will.

The ID.Buzz is a handsome van. It looks great in a wide variety of configurations. It is also an aggressive one, presenting an altogether different aesthetic to its beloved predecessor. Perhaps lean, mean ID.Buzzes will become a popular sight on our highways once the model is available at U.S. dealers. That could be cool in its own way. Regardless, at heart, I’m yearning for the friendly, more huggable aesthetic from Kombi vans past.

Image credits: VW via NewspressUK, VW, Starship Troopers via screenshot, Lewin Day

 

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Clupea Hangoverus
Clupea Hangoverus
19 days ago

The black bumper is just unpainted plastic, like in the good old days. Cheap to replace, important in a fleet vehicle.

The ID Buzz cargo is relatively popular. In urban stop and go traffic EV’s are great. No malfunctioning diesel emission gear, instant heat in winter, permission to use bus lanes (in some cities), cheap to run etc.

Bonus headlight conspiracy theory: they want to use the same led units (couple of different design variants from cheap stupid led blocks to adjusting matrix projectors) in ALL the models they make. The classic round headlight would look stupid with rectrangular led unit inside. So angry swoopy it is. Roundish Xenon projectors worked more easily with different headlight housing geometries, and the halogen option was cheap to make anyway. Meaning that you could have a similar projector both in a conservative golf or in a beetle with round headlight housing. It is all about pennies saved, as usual.

Last edited 19 days ago by Clupea Hangoverus
Myk El
Myk El
20 days ago

OK, the ONLY way I’d ever get a Jeep Wrangler is if it did have adjustable eyebrows. Specifically, I want the curious one raised eyebrow option.

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
20 days ago

Anyone remember “The Love Bug” with Bruce Campbell? There was Herbie, our white and lovable race car. His nemesis in the film was a specially made bug called “Horace the Hate Bug”.

https://sebeetles.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/PDVD_043-Copy.jpg

It pretty much encapsulates how a little paint and some cosmetic changes can turn a cheery hippy symbol into its intended 3rd Reich design.

Mike TowpathTraveler
Mike TowpathTraveler
21 days ago

It’s about the longest automotive tease in history where it’s to the point that the vast majority no longer care about much about it. And you get the impression that VW doesn’t, either.

Greensoul
Greensoul
21 days ago

I’m betting the 25k Tesla model tease will last longer……

Greensoul
Greensoul
21 days ago
Reply to  Greensoul

I’ll leave the Elio out of this conversation

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
21 days ago

One look is sociopath, the other, psychopath. Perhaps if the round version featured much bigger lights it would soften the overall appearance. Still not going to get the Winnie the Pooh friendly owl face of the Kombi, it’d be more of a Kermit the Frog, but better than the evil eyes of stock ID Buzz.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
21 days ago

I see what you mean but it’s not that bad…just funny. I don’t mind the headlights since they’re unique & fit this vehicle. I actually think it would be awesome (if $ were no object) to get one & sell all the EV components and turn it into a gas BUS as a TRIBUTE to the classic hippy BUS
(Also to spite the EV fanatics)

Iain Tunmore
Iain Tunmore
21 days ago

That van livery is further proof to my assertion that the two tone paintwork is doing the vast majority of the heavy lifting for the retro-cool vibes of the buzz.
Ive seen a few now, more as all white commercial vans than two tone MPVs, and they’re awkward looking and quite dull, an ‘impressive’ combination.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
21 days ago

I dunno, man. The round headlights are unsettling.
VW’s design looks like it might hurt me, but only if it had reason to hurt me.
The round headlights make it look like a cold, calculating murder-mobile that makes decisions based solely on ones and zeros. It looks like it would hurt me and not feel any way about it.

Tybalt
Tybalt
21 days ago

The round headlights make it look like a cold, calculating murder-mobile that makes decisions based solely on ones and zeros. It looks like it would hurt me and not feel any way about it.

In a parallel universe, where a German director made Space Odyssey 2001:

Hans: “Open the sliding door, Buzz.” Do you read me, Buzz? Hello, Buzz, do you read me?
Buzz: “Affirmative, Hans, I read you.”
Hans: “Open the sliding door, Buzz.”
Buzz: I’m sorry Hans. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Last edited 21 days ago by Tybalt
Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
21 days ago

Honda-e did the retro-look better.

I think it’s too bad it was designed as a city car, and not as an electric Civic-sized car.

Aaron
Aaron
21 days ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

It was a cruel taunt when the project lead for the Honda-E said it was USDM compliant but they wouldn’t be selling it here. Make it around 165″ long with a ~105″ wheelbase, slotting it between the Fit and the Civic. Co-develop it with the next gen Bolt. Aim for a range of 240-260 miles. Keep the same cute retro look. Boom. Winner!

Last edited 21 days ago by Aaron
Adam Rice
Adam Rice
21 days ago

Those eyebrows look like something from the Terrance and Phillip Show.

Toobs-N-Stuff
Toobs-N-Stuff
21 days ago

I guess you couldn’t get the licensing to reference Star Wars Storm Troopers?

They are a much more apt comparison than Starship Troopers

lets see, storm troopers, black and white, angry plastic eyes, bulbous grill.

starship troopers, grey helmet, no eyes.

Last edited 21 days ago by Toobs-N-Stuff
Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
21 days ago
Reply to  Toobs-N-Stuff

If every car currently on the roads was replaced by these storm troopers vans, collisions would entirely disappear.

…. Y’know, because storm troopers can’t hit anything.

Chronometric
Chronometric
21 days ago

The ID Buzz was VWs chance to change the narrative. Offer something alternative for the large number of people who don’t need to dominate the highway. Being friendly was the ethos of VW for many years and why they are beloved today. I can’t believe they fumbled the ball at the goal line.

Last edited 21 days ago by Chronometric
Torque
Torque
21 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

RE: “I can’t believe they fumbled the ball at the goal line”…

I Can.

VW has bee pussyfooting around with at least 4 different “new” VW Bus (Buss’? Bus? Bus’) to replace the Transporter Type 3 Eurovan for nearly 25 years now!

Since VW started toying around with the idea… in the US we’ve had 4 “new” presidents.

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
21 days ago
Reply to  Torque

Meanwhile, the rest of the world has had the T4, T5, T6 and soon the T7 series of Transporters. Though, North America did see some of the T4s in the late 90s and early 00s.

Torque
Torque
20 days ago

RE: “Meanwhile, the rest of the world has had the T4, T5, T6 and soon the T7 series of Transporters”

Don’t remind me!;-)

Wait there were actual T4s sold in the US legitimately? Not Grey market / “show and display only” / I’m a diplomat and this is my fleet of diplomatic cars/vans?

I thought the 2003 model year T3 was the last vw van sold in the US bc the sales were such shit?

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
20 days ago
Reply to  Torque

Yep. VW Eurovan (98-03?) was a long nose T4 Caravelle. Canada also got some diesel Transporters as well in the mid 90s. Oh and Winnebago used some as well.

Torque
Torque
19 days ago

That’s right the 98-03 were T4’s.
In my head I was thinking they were “T3’s”

Dang it I had to look it up:

T1 original bus (v-nose) was the T2 Bay window bus
T3 Vanagon
T4 Eurovan

Alexk98
Alexk98
21 days ago

The round headlight version is reminding me of the Cybermen from Dr. Who, which I haven’t watched that show in 8 or 9 years, so that’s a heck of a core memory to be brought up by an ID Buzz

AlterId
AlterId
21 days ago

Yeah, well, the company’s name is only one letter short of HELLION, so what do you expect?

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
21 days ago
Reply to  AlterId

This was my thought. Menacing look enhanced by actually writing Hellion right on the front!

Live2ski
Live2ski
21 days ago

I forgot the ID.Buzz exists. is it ever coming to the US?

Óscar Morales Vivó
Óscar Morales Vivó
21 days ago
Reply to  Live2ski

Late this year, supposedly, and only in a longer version than you seen in the pictures.

Toecutter
Toecutter
21 days ago

I hate how EVEYTHING in the U.S. is made to look aggressive these days. For economy vehicles, sports cars, and sedans, it’s not only being done at the expense of beauty, but very often at the expense of efficiency(fake grilles/scoops/vents, drag-inducing creases, ect.).

I’m sick of bullshit designs. I want designs that are honest. I LOVE the Ora Funky cat for this. It’s not pretending to be something it isn’t. What you see is what you actually are getting.

This VW looks better with the round headlights, by far, IMO. The round lights better fit what it actually is.

Get rid of that perforated grille while you’re at it. It’s an EV and doesn’t need a large opening for cooling, and the fake grille just needlessly complicates the design, and adds manufacturing cost while sapping a few miles from its range. It’s just plain stupid.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
21 days ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Mid-size trucks were hanging on, but in the last couple years they went all angry too. (◣_◢)

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
21 days ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Yeah, weirdly, some of the least-aggro cars are sports models – 400Z, BRZ/GR86, Miata, I mean, they all have a little of it going on, but not to the excess of the worst offenders. And you’d think they would be the worst

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
21 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

The sports cars don’t need to posture because they’re not trying to make up for anything. They have the big D energy… Er, big fun energy?

Torque
Torque
21 days ago
Reply to  Toecutter

100% agree. Go round headlights and get rid of the useless bumper fake vents…
I bet some smart entrepreneurs will offer a round headlight conversion kit sooner or later

Clark B
Clark B
21 days ago
Reply to  Toecutter

That damn grille pisses me off. The original didn’t need one because it was air-cooled. The EV version shouldn’t need one either, and yet they found a way to add one. Like you said, it complicates what should have been a simple design.

Maybe they’re trying to channel those Buses built in South America until 2013, that had water-cooled engines and a big radiator grille on the front? Seems unlikely.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
21 days ago
Reply to  Toecutter

When I see the angry eyes on a Jeep as a pedestrian, I automatically assume my life is forfeit to the driver. It looks so stupid and I just… I don’t get it.

I’m an angry metalhead guy and even I get depressed seeing that a Jeep “needs” angry-looking red angel eye headlights. You should have to watch an hour of The Joy of Painting before you’re allowed to complete the purchase of accessories like that.

Austin Mercer
Austin Mercer
20 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Sad part is, somewhere in the world is a jeep with a smiley face grille, and it makes me laugh and smile. But noooo everyone wants to be some kind of angry poser. Give me Happy Heep!

Vee
Vee
19 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

As another generally angry atmosphere guy I desire so strongly for fun looking cars like the first gen Focus, the NB Miata, the first gen CR-V, and the Ford Ranger. An upsetting environment reinforces negative emotions and makes you a worse person. This is why people don’t like sticking around modernist and post-modernist architecture.

Vee
Vee
19 days ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I got tired of the spritely triangle headlights everything had starting in 1999, but I got tired because there were no variations on front end designs. Nowadays there are variations out the ass, but every single one of them say they hate you and they want to beat you to death with a broken fireaxe handle. In 1995 cars like the second gen Mazda Protege and the second gen Ford Taurus looked a bit stern, but not in an intimidating way, just in a self-confident one. The 2000s were filled with cars that looked like they’d taken way too large a dose of anti-depressants. In the late 2000s something snapped, and since then front end designs have just been getting angrier and angrier.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
21 days ago

The black bumper looks like a beard to me.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
21 days ago

Like those fake mustache/beards worn by women to go to a stoning in “Life of Brian“.

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
16 days ago

“Are there any women here today?”

[chorus of high-pitched “Nos”]

Greensoul
Greensoul
21 days ago

I can’t unsee that now. It does look it’s wearing a beard. Amish style at that.

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