By Cortez Fields
Since its inception in 1964, Lake Havasu City has a long and storied history with bringing in residents of colder states to Arizona to populate the area.
The founder, Robert P. McCulloch, started the tradition of touring prospective residents from colder climates around Lake Havasu to convince them to purchase property and settle here. His efforts eventually led to Havasu becoming incorporated by 1978. Eventually the city has gone on to reach the over 50,000 residents it already has. These are all common facts for Havasu locals, but how did McCulloch convince people to stay in Havasu?
A London Bus for the London Bridge
During McCulloch’s push to get Lake Havasu to become incorporated, the magnate famously bought the London Bridge in 1968, creating the premiere tourist attraction for the burgeoning city. This brought more tourists and future residents with them. Gary Baumkirshner, of McCulloch Realty, bought a red London double-decker bus to transport potential home buyers through Lake Havasu City. For years, the bus was used to showcase the finest parts of Lake Havasu City.
The original double-decker red bus for Havasu became iconic for longtime residents, and was parked in front of the old McCulloch Realty building for years after it had been retired from use. Sadly, the bus was neglected for years in its parking lot before anyone took notice. Time eroded the bus and it began to fall to ruin. The owner, Gary Baumkirchner, eventually passed away, leaving the bus’s fate up in the air. Many Havasu locals wondered what would become of the bus.
Mudshark’s Remaking History
Scott Stocking, the owner of Mudshark Brewery, has stepped up to bring the old bus back to its a former glory. A Havasu resident since 1975, Stocking had fond memories of the bus as a youth in Lake Havasu City.
“Everyday I would ride my bike and see it,” Stocking told us. His wife, Tina Stocking, the head of marketing for Mudhshark’s chimed in. “It kept bothering him so I told him just to buy it.”
He did buy it, along with a old school London taxi, for $4,500 dollars. Scott Stocking is a project man, and is very excited to bring the tour bus back to its former glory.
“My plan is to keep it completely original.”
Scott Stocking has already put in new glass and new tires on the bus. In his dedication to keeping the bus original, he’s also replaced most of the wood frame of the bus. The English double-deckers were originally made with a framework of wood instead of traditional metal. The outside of the bus will be kept original, just refurbished. Stocking also cleaned out the bus, but he needed a mechanic to get it running.
An Expert Mechanic for an Epic Restoration
Scott Stocking had plans for the bus but didn’t have mechanical prowess to bring it back to working condition. Richard Perkins, Scott’s longtime friend, jumped at the idea of fixing up the bus after his retirement. Perkins has worked for Porsche motors for more than 28 years and retired earlier this year.
“When I saw he bought the bus two years ago, I asked him if I could fix it after I retired. He didn’t take me seriously until I fully retired and told him I wanted to do it.”
Perkins has a long career working with cars as a Field Technical Manager for Porsche. He continues to work at Porsche events because of his status as a seasoned manager there. He has already completed extensive work on the bus alongside Stocking.
“We cleaned it out, put air in the tires and towed it my place.”
Perkins has gotten the engine running, and he hopes to have the bus mobile by sometime in July.
The Future of the Big Red Bus
The Stockings said they would like to use the bus for brewery tours when it is fully operational, but they also want to eventually offer tours around Lake Havasu City.
They plan to continue restoration of the bus and Riverscene Magazine will be there with updates.
I drove that bus when Gary owned it. Fun but hard work. Sore shoulders after awhile because of a lack of power steering. And watch for low hanging trees and wires too.