PHOENIX — A yearlong project that has taken more than 1,000-man hours to complete is beginning to take shape.
“One little spot takes a long time,” said Russell Green.
The members of the Arizona Bus Club have their sights set on restoring a 1973 Wild Westerner High-Top to its original glory. One of only 149 ever produced, this bus was displayed at the 1974 World's Fair in Seattle. The task at hand is certainly easier said than done.
“The front end from here back was crushed in about a foot,” said John Manning walking us around the bus. “This door was dented, this had a big dent in it,”
Manning has been a part of this annual effort since 2018. He tells ABC15 the key to its success is the diverse skill set of its members.
“It’s just incredible, these guys have been doing it all their life, so they make it look so simple,” said Manning.
And when it comes to this restoration, every detail matters.
“All original is always more valuable than remodeled reconditioned, rebuilt,” said Joe Genovese.
Once finished, it will be raffled off at the Jerome Jamboree in September. The jamboree is an annual gathering of bus enthusiast dating back to the '70s.
“This is gonna be a $45,000, $50,000 bus when we’re done with it,” said Mike Baleda.
Those that attend the Jamboree on the last weekend of September can purchase a one dollar raffle ticket in hopes of winning the restored bus. The money raised through the raffle is then donated to local nonprofits like Operation Restoring Veterans Hope and Big Brothers Big Sisters. The giveaway has been carried out for 31 years.
“All my life I’ve worked on cars and now I get to work on unique vehicles that ultimately, the time and effort that goes into them, the money that comes out of it goes to help people locally that maybe wouldn’t be helped otherwise,” said Manning.
He says it’s labor of love these men look forward to every year.