Jim Reeves Tour Bus | Big Blue | Heart of Texas Country Music Museum

The Jim Reeves Tour Bus "Big Blue"

The history of touring buses in Country Music can be traced back to Ernest Tubb.  Ernest is credited as being the first Country Music entertainer to travel in a bus. 

“Big Blue” was purchased by Jim Reeves on January 23, 1961.  Jim borrowed $7,005.60 from the Third National Bank in Nashville, Tennessee to pay for the bus.  He made monthly payments of $291.90 on the bus until it was paid off on January 18, 1963.  Big Blue had a 1956 Bus Chassis with 29 passenger Flexible body with air conditioning.  Its serial number is 30923 with a motor number of 4A56589. The Model number is 218GM1-56-29IC which decoded means 218” wheelbase, GM1-Buick “Straight 8” engine, 56-Production Year and 29IC stands for twenty nine passenger inter city model. The bus was delivered on July 16, 1956 to Bohl Tours headquartered in Latham, New York.  Jim obviously bought it used but we do not know who owned it for the five years before he purchased it.   It was his first and only bus.

Jim Reeves and the Blue Boys traveled all over the United States in Big Blue making personal appearances that were often many distances between each other.

Tom Perryman, one of Jim’s business partners, tells of the times when the boys could not even stop to use the restroom.  “We had to just open the door and keep the wheels rolling!”   

After Jim’s tragic death in 1964, his band The Blue Boys used the bus on personal appearances.  Jim’s wife Mary kept the band and the bus on the road entertaining Reeves fans.

Around 1965, the bus was sold to Wilma Burgess and then to Nat Stuckey.  It was later sold to Teddy and Doyle-The Wiburn Brothers for their shows.

Mary Reeves purchased the bus back for the Jim Reeves Museum.  She built a deck and a cover for the bus and it was on display at the Nashville museum until it closed.

Coming Back Home To Texas

The Heart of Texas Country Music Association acquired Jim Reeves’ bus directly from the Jim Reeves Estate.                   

The estate was sold to United Shows Carnival operator Ed Gregory.  Gregory also owned Faron Young’s estate.  He declared bankruptcy and an auction was held in Smyrna, Tennessee, on July 19, 2003.  Tracy Pitcox and Mike Rutledge attended the auction with the intent of buying the bus and bringing it to Texas.

“Big Blue” was purchased at the auction for $3,000.00.  The motor and transmission had been removed and traded by Mary Reeves in exchange for a new paint job several years ago. McCoy Truck Salvage Company from Rockdale, Texas transported the bus for $3,100.00. 

 A Little Renovation

The Heart of Texas Country Music Association began working on the interior of the bus as soon as it arrived.  We added new carpet and took down the window curtains.  This gave visitors a more “open” view of the bus.  We also added a new window curtain with Jim’s name.  The new window curtain alone cost nearly $300.00.

We enclosed the two closet with Plexiglas and added memorabilia from Jim’s career including a stage suit, awards, signed checks and record album.  Across from Jim’s display, we honored Mary with the dress she wore picking up his Hall of Fame award and other honors that she was given.

Jim Reeves Tour Bus Big Blue

In 2006, we gave Big Blue a new paint job to brighten up and preserve the body.  In the last few years, she had been suffering from some rusting and normal wear and tear.  The paint and outside restoration helped to stop the normal deterioration process.

The bus can be seen at the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum at 1701 South Bridge in Brady, Texas, on Tuesday through Friday from 12-4, Saturday from 10-4 and on Sunday from 12-5.  Special other times can be arranged by calling (325) 597-1895, (512) 751-9278 or (325) 456-5316.  Free tours of the bus and museum are courtesy of the Heart of Texas Country Music Association.

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