In 1957, the government of Tulsa, Oklahoma was celebrating 50 years of being a state in the USA. As part of the 1957 Tulsarama Golden Week of Jubilee festivities, a 12 by 20 foot underground vault was dug filled with various items to represent the life in America in 1957. The most notable item that was placed in the vault was a beautiful, brand new, Desert Gold and Sand Dune White Plymouth Belvedere coupe with only 4 miles on the odometer which was donated by Plymouth Motors by a group of Plymouth Dealers in the Tulsa area. The items in the vault were part of a competition to see who guess what the population of Tulsa would be in 2007. The person (or closest relative) who guessed the closest to Tulsa's 2007 population would win the car in 2007.
Prior to being buried, Miss Belvedere's glovebox and trunk (boot for those of you across the pond) were filled with various items including a steel safe holding 5 gallon container of gasoline, motor oil, a $100 deposit, and a 48 star American Flag. There were also a woman's purse filled with typical items like chewing gum and makeup. Also before being buried, Miss Belvedere was coated in a cosmoline type substance and wrapped several layers of sealed plastic in hopes that the car would be protected from moisture that might seep in. After Miss Belvedere was buried in the vault that was advertised as surviving a nuclear explosion but wasn't airtight, or waterproof.
On June 14th, 2007 Miss Belvedere would be unearthed. Some people thought the car would be in near pristine condition while many were concerned that water had seeped in and caused severe damage. When Miss Belvedere was unearthed, people were troubled when they found the car was sitting in about 2000 gallons of standing water about 4 feet high. It was also revealed that at one point the underground vault was flooded to the lid of the vault, both of which completely destroyed Miss Belvedere.
Here's what she was supposed to look like...
Here are the tragic results
Miss Belvedere didn't have a single inch that wasn't covered in rust. The rear suspension was so bad that it only barely could hold the weight of the car. All the little trinkets that weren't in a steel safe in the car were destroyed. Things like chewing gum, cigarettes, and a case of beer and a woman's purse were all destroyed. The things in the safe were perfectly preserved like the 48 star American flag, the container of gasoline, and a $100 deposit that was now worth $700 with 50 years of interest.
The winner of the sorry Belvedere was a man named Raymond Humberston. Unfortunately Raymond had died 28 years before the unearthing of the car so, by contest rules, the car would go to the next closest relatives who were sisters in law, 95 year old Catherine Johnson, and 86 year old Levada Carney who had to figure out what to do with the useless vehicle. Luckily for them Dwight Foster, a man who worked for a rust removal company in New Jersey offered a partial restoration. The goal was to make this rust bucket actually look presentable but making it drivable was out of the question because any plans to fully restore the car were ruined because the rust made everything to fragile. Needless to say, after several years of de-rusting and $10,000 worth of materials and transport, the results achieved are stunning.
As you can see Miss Belvedere actually looks like a car again. We can now see her gold and white paint again. While Miss Belvedere is far from pristine, she looks a whole lot better than she did when she was unearthed. After the de-rusting, Dwight started looking for a new permanent home for Miss Belvedere in 2015. He tried the Smithsonian but they rejected the car because it's was in to poor of a state. After trying several other places that were willing to display Miss Belvedere temporarily, Dwight finally found Historic Auto Attractions in Roscoe, Illinois in 2017. This is were Miss Belvedere currently is now were she is displayed with her story being told as the Rustiest brand new car.
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