Miss Belvedere

Last week my work time distraction was the unearthing of the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere from a time capsule in Tulsa OK.
Back in 1957, to celebrate the state of Oklahoma’s 50 year anniversary, they buried a time capsule in Tulsa to be opened 50 years later. In addition to the standard time capsule proclamations from local dignitaries and other 50s stuff, they buried a beautiful 1957 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop coupe. Those full size Chrysler products were among the most beautiful cars of their day. They also tended to start rusting almost before they left the lot, according to Dad. They also took guesses as to what Tulsa’s population would be in 2007. Person with the closes guess (or their heirs) would win the Belvedere in 2007.
Well, the 50 years was up this past Friday. On Wednesday they opened the vault in preparation for the big reveal. The top picture is what they found – Miss Belvedere in 3 feet of water, with evidence that the water level was much higher at some point. Not good. Word was, however, that they had wrapped the car in multiple layers of plastic, cosmoline and other stuff when they buried it, so maybe …
Layers, yeah right. As you can see, whatever layers there were were useless. Maybe I didn’t see the right pictures, but all that seemed to be around the car was a loose layer of plastic. My theory was that the folks that buried the car had little to no money, so they draped some plastic over the car and made up this story about the layers and the cosmoline, figuring that in 50 years most of the folks hearing it would be dead. At the very least, they would be dead so no one could hold them accountable or some ask them any questions. 😀
Miss Belvedere was a mucky, rusty mess. You could see water lines just above the wheel wells, at the top of the doors and at the center of the windshield. The interior & under hood looked like the inside of the Titanic. Maybe, just maybe, the body will clean up (you can see a promising spot on some pictures where they polished a bit of the front bumper), but it seems unlikely.
What a shame. When I heard about this a year or two ago I had hoped to see a dirt but pristine old Plymouth rise from the ground. Oh well. It was still a PR coup for Tulsa, one they hope to repeat in 2048 when the open the vault (above ground this time) that was sealed in 1998 with a 1998 Plymouth Prowler inside.
Check out pictures, article and video at kotv.com, more pictures at the car’s official website, buriedcar.com and even more at the Tulsa Chevy club’s web site including a lot of detail shots, including the undercarriage.

11 thoughts on “Miss Belvedere

  1. Nice post.. It made remind of my grand father”s Plymouth car.. He is a rich agriculturists by the way… We had some great experiences with the car that cannot be burried.. Too bad that we have to sell it because my grandfather has been having some problem with its Plymouth oxygen sensor… So, we replaced it with a Porsche… It was not bad, but the memory on the previous is priceless…

  2. I can’t tell you how sick we were to see her look like this. A buddy of mine has an office close to the vault so I knew she was coming out in bad shape before a lot of folks. I did almost email you knowing how much you loved cars but it was so difficult to see her with all the rust.
    The problem is that we have a high water table in this area and our forefathers didn’t account for that. We’ve seen tons of sump pumps going out the doors lately because of the rain. This isn’t the first time Tulsa has seen a lot of rain and it was very visible with the car. The vault wasn’t sealed well and being made of concrete water leaked in over the many years. My impression is the she will end up being cleaned as much as they can and end up in a museum somewhere. I do think that they thought they were doing a good job. Too sad for the Lady and our city.

  3. Bobby – Thanks for the link. This quote from the first page of pictures you link to is sad:

    Experts that have accessed the 1957 Belvedere have stated that the car will continue to deteriorate. As it stands now, the parties involved cannot due anything to the car to preserve it’s condition or restore it due to legal matters regarding the owner (the winner of the contest or their heir.) If the owner is not located, they still cannot do anything to the car for at least 5 years when the unclaimed property period will have elapsed.

    So, until someone either claims or refuses the car, or the legal 5 year period is up, she sits as is and continues to rot. Can’t even clean it to see what’s really under the muck. Bummer.
    Milly – Let me know if you hear anything else about her. I find this really fascinating.
    I hope the winner is quickly found and her fate is established soon.

  4. Unless there has been more news they don’t know how to find the new owner. Was the information placed in the car? It’s gone for good. They are in the process of looking.
    You now this is a case of a good idea gone very bad. No one thought to place all that information in a safe place and to record where that safe place is. Gee how dumb is this!

  5. Unless there has been more news they don’t know how to find the new owner.

    According to KOTV, updated Monday:

    Hundreds of guesses were discovered on a paper list and postcards inside a separate time capsule buried in the concrete vault, supposedly tough enough to withstand a nuclear attack.

    It says that the winner is to be announced tomorrow “at a local dealership”.
    It does mention that they were supposed to be in the back seat, on microfilm in a canister. The canister was found, rusted away. Thankfully, they were in the time capsule too, I guess.

  6. They have the winner’s name. But with the cost up that high I wonder what they might do if they can even find that owner. I almost drove over to see the car today but decided I’ll try tomorrow and avoid a big crowd. If I do make it over I’ll take a few photos for you.
    This was on a local news post

    Fifty years ago, someone by the name of R. E. Humbertson took a stab at guessing what the population of Tulsa would be in the year 2007.
    At stake, a beautiful, brand new Plymouth Belvedere, which was about to enter an underground vault for a fifty-year ride into the future.
    Friday, one week after “Miss Belvedere’s” disinternment, Tulsarama officials announced that Humbertson’s guess came the closest to predicting Tulsa’s population.
    Working from an “official” number of 384,743, the committee determined that Humbertson’s guess of 382,457 came closer than anyone else’s.
    Tulsarama organizers say some 812 people registered guesses when the car was buried in 1957.
    Humbertson — no one knows yet if that person was male or female — only missed by about 2,300; the next closest guess was some 3,100 off the mark.
    According to the Tulsarama website, Humbertson listed a birthplace of Cumberland, Maryland and a birthdate of July 8, 1921.
    If he/she’s still alive, that would make him/her 86 next month.
    Tulsarama officials plan to track down Humbertson or family members and give them the good news.
    They now own a car that will take something like $100,000 to fully restore.

  7. Miss Belvedere’s journey continues…..she’s heading to New Jersey’s Safest Rust Remover….to be de-rusted and preserved…watch her journey…www.missbelvedere.com

  8. Been meaning to post about that, but the company doing the de-rusting found me first. Heh.
    That ‘Safest Rust Remover’ is pretty impressive in their promotional pictures, though. If they can de-rust Miss Belvedere (and they don’t plan on disassembling her), that’ll be quite a feat.
    I hope they can.

  9. Miss Belvedere is officially handed over to the heirs of R.E. Humbertson today. She will be transportated to Hackettstown NJ the home of the Worlds SafestRustRemover and Ultra ONE cleaners for “Arrested Deterioration” follow her journey on the Miss Belvedere forums.

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