Under The Hood

What's that Plymouth worth?

Having just enough information, but not all the facts, can result in dangerous assumptions. Such is the case with many non-automotive media outlets speculating on the value of the Tulsarama’s 1957 Plymouth once it’s pulled from the Tulsa earth. Such assumptions wouldn’t ordinarily bother me enough to spout off about them, but it appears many of these sources are quoting the No. 1 value from Old Cars Price Guide, and that’s not right.

First of all, unrestored cars are not No. 1 cars. A vehicle has to have undergone a nut-and-bolt restoration that’s recent enough to make its owner comfortable with eating a sizzling steak from the “dirtiest” crevice of the vehicle’s underside (note: there should not be a dirty or rusty crevice ANYWHERE on a true No. 1 car). Not many vehicles are restored to this level, which is what makes No. 1 cars so valuable. Now, I love unrestored cars, and I’m the first to admit that unrestored vehicles can be worth as much, if not more, than restored cars. But it’s impossible for an unrestored car, even if it has zero miles, to be in No. 1 condition, and we all know these media sources are not aware of that fact.

Furthermore, celebrity car prices cannot be charted through any price guide. Remember the “Dukes of Hazzard” Dodge Charger? (I know, I know, we haven’t let you forget about that car on this Web site.) Every knowledgeable person will tell you that Charger will be worth more than an identical-appearing Charger from the same year, because it has some screen time, and it was owned by one of the famous people who helped make second-generation Dodge Chargers even more popular.  

The Tulsarama Plymouth may not have any screen time behind it, nor was it ever owned by a celebrity (or any person at all), but more importantly, it’s a celebrity in its own right. In fact, it’s quickly becoming the world’s best-known car, and only a handful of people have ever laid eyes on its gold-and-white body. And, since this Plymouth’s odometer has turned less often than a short-term politician, it’s all that much more valuable, even if it comes out of the earth looking less like a car from 1957 and more like a car from 1857.

So, what is this Plymouth worth? That question can be answered with as much confidence as predicting its condition. But, it’s safe to say the car will easily fetch six figures. If it’s in nice condition, and since there are at least two well-known and well-funded institutions interested in acquiring this special Plymouth, there’s a small chance it may reach seven-figure territory in heated bidding action at the right auction venue.

There is one thing you can count on, however, and that’s the fact this Plymouth is worth more than $30,000 — and we’ll keep you posted on its fate within the pages of Old Cars Weekly.

2 thoughts on “What's that Plymouth worth?

  1. Terry Parkhurst

    Oscar Wilde once defined a cynic as a man "who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing." Well, watching the money some people pay for serial production cars that, back in their day, were known to literally creak as body panels rubbed against each other, only because they have an engine with hemispherical-combustion cylinder heads, it is easy to get a bit world-weary.

    (A pal of mine, back when I attended the Art Center College of Design, bought a brand new 1970 Dodge Challenger, and it creaked when he drove it, prompting me to ask, "Hey John! What’s wrong with your car?" to which he responded, "Oh, that’s just the way they build them.")

    The value of any vintage car, or anything period for that matter, is based only on what we humans imbue it with. The Tri-5 Chevrolets have iconic status to a generation that grew up with them; yet the generation that covets the Subaru WRX STi or the Mitsubishi Evo VIII, just look with wonder at the prices paid for such cars at an event such as Silver Auctions’ Hot August Nights sale.

    Because the muscle cars seem to have a cross-generational appeal, the young guys or gals you might be more likely to see at a concert by The Killers than one by the Beach Boys, just sort of nod when they see a Hemi-‘cuda or Dodge Challenger with that same sort of engine, pull six figures to a million dollars, at one of those auction circuses staged under the big tent in Arizona, thanks to SPEED Channel. (Do I need to even mention that auction company’s name?)

    But it’s important to remember that paraphrasing an old song that Rod Stewart sang, back when he was the lead singer with Faces, every car (or truck or motorcycle) tells a story don’t (sic) it?

    It’s the story behind any car, that oftentimes means it will bring a bidder out of the wood-work who pays so much money others just look at each other, shake their heads and wonder if the person has taken leave of their senses. Because in a way, maybe they have. They say that love is a form of insanity.

    And while it is not really possible to love a car – it’s an inanimate object, after all – you can still try.

  2. Terry Parkhurst

    Oscar Wilde once defined a cynic as a man "who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing." Well, watching the money some people pay for serial production cars that, back in their day, were known to literally creak as body panels rubbed against each other, only because they have an engine with hemispherical-combustion cylinder heads, it is easy to get a bit world-weary.

    (A pal of mine, back when I attended the Art Center College of Design, bought a brand new 1970 Dodge Challenger, and it creaked when he drove it, prompting me to ask, "Hey John! What’s wrong with your car?" to which he responded, "Oh, that’s just the way they build them.")

    The value of any vintage car, or anything period for that matter, is based only on what we humans imbue it with. The Tri-5 Chevrolets have iconic status to a generation that grew up with them; yet the generation that covets the Subaru WRX STi or the Mitsubishi Evo VIII, just look with wonder at the prices paid for such cars at an event such as Silver Auctions’ Hot August Nights sale.

    Because the muscle cars seem to have a cross-generational appeal, the young guys or gals you might be more likely to see at a concert by The Killers than one by the Beach Boys, just sort of nod when they see a Hemi-‘cuda or Dodge Challenger with that same sort of engine, pull six figures to a million dollars, at one of those auction circuses staged under the big tent in Arizona, thanks to SPEED Channel. (Do I need to even mention that auction company’s name?)

    But it’s important to remember that paraphrasing an old song that Rod Stewart sang, back when he was the lead singer with Faces, every car (or truck or motorcycle) tells a story don’t (sic) it?

    It’s the story behind any car, that oftentimes means it will bring a bidder out of the wood-work who pays so much money others just look at each other, shake their heads and wonder if the person has taken leave of their senses. Because in a way, maybe they have. They say that love is a form of insanity.

    And while it is not really possible to love a car – it’s an inanimate object, after all – you can still try.

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