Moisture took its toll on the Belvedere (AP photo)
TULSA, Okla. – The 1957 Plymouth Belvedere that spent the past 50 years buried under downtown Tulsa was finally unveiled last night at the Tulsa Convention Center.
Tulsarama co-chair Sharon King Davis and John Erling led the program as over 7,000 curious people from all over the world looked on, all with the same questions on their minds: what will it look like? What’s inside? And of course, will it start?
“This car has gained so much national and international attention that she has taken on a personality of her own,” Erling said as he opened the ceremony. “By now, she’s a celebrity. We’ve all heard of her, but not met her.”
When the veil was finally removed from Ms. Belvedere, all of the above questions were answered. The past 50 years had taken a toll on her as she was caked in a thin layer of mud and rust.
Hot rod legend Boyd Coddington of TLC’s American Hot Rod came to Tulsa to attempt to start Ms. Belvedere, but due to her delicate condition he decided to leave her “just the way she is in all her beauty.” Coddington urged the audience to not attempt to restore the car, but instead preserve her just the way she is as she came out of the vault.
The highlight of the night came when the vault’s time capsule was opened and everything inside it was in pristine condition including the 46-star American Flag that once flew over the nation’s capitol and the population guesses from 1957 that were discovered. The guesses were originally believed to be on microfilm, but were discovered on paper. The guesses were part of a contest in 1957 and the winner who guessed closest to Tulsa’s population in 2007 will win the car.
Several cans of Schlitz beer was discovered inside the car, as a memento from Tulsa jazz musician and nightclub owner Clarence Love. The contents of a woman’s purse were discovered and so were two large containers of gasoline.
The Belvedere will be on display Saturday and Sunday at the Invitational Car Show in the Tulsa Convention Center, which is free and open to the public.