T he ultimate fate of Tulsa’s buried Belvedere is still uncertain nearly three months after “Miss Belvedere” made her first grand appearance in fifty years.
According to Arvest Bank President Don Walker, who has been in charge of determining who has the best claim on the 1957 Plymouth that was removed from its vault beneath the Tulsa County Courthouse lawn June 14, the official winner of the car has yet to be certified.
The car, which suffers from extensive damage after being submerged in conditions described as a “watery grave” for an unknown number of years, was to have been presented earlier this month to the winner of a contest conducted a half-a-century ago.
Under the guidelines of the contest, the person who predicted Tulsa’s 2007 population was to receive the car.
However, nearly three months later, contest officials are still working behind the scenes to determine who will inherit the rusty relic.
Buried with the car was a time capsule containing the contest entries. Included among the hundreds of guesses, was one made by Raymond Humbertson of Cumberland, Md., who died in 1979. Humbertson’s guess was only 2,286 off the actual census numbers, closer than any other entry.
Complicating matters, Humbertson’s wife. Margaret passed away nine years later leaving her estate to two siblings, a nephew and her church.
Early on, it was assumed that Raymond Humbertson’s two elderly sisters, Catherine Johnson and Leveda Carney, had the best claim on the car. However, questions soon arose over whether Margaret Humbertson’s heirs might also have a claim on the car.
“We’re really close,” Walker told the Tulsa World newspaper recently. “We’re waiting on an affidavit saying all of Mrs. Humbertson’s siblings are deceased. At that point, we can give the car to (Johnson).”
Robert Carney of Frederick, Md., nephew of the car’s probable winner, announced last month that Ultra One Corporation, a company that sells a line of rust removal products, has been enlisted to chemically de-rust and preserve what has become one of the world’s most famous “finned” Mopars in the world once the issue of ownership has been resolved.
“Once we get it derusted, we think it’ll run,” Carney has been quoted as saying in interviews. “We really think it will.”
According to the Ultra One Web site, future plans for Miss Belvedere could include a second Tulsa unveiling and a tour around the country for special events. Following the tour, the car’s future remains unclear. However, Carney has speculated that the car could find her way to the Barrett-Jackson auction block in Scottsdale in January 2009.
The Belvedere does not have a title and its serial number is unreadable, so ownership will be transferred with a bill of sale.