Tulsa, Okla. Officials in Tulsa were dismayed Wednesday to find the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere that has been buried beneath the city courthouse lawn for the past 50 years, sitting in nearly 2 feet of water.
The vault containing the car was opened this week to give hazardous materials experts a chance to inspect the contents of the vault, including gas and oil stored with the car, in case those fuels and lubricants created a potential danger.
Although the car technically has been "unearthed," it is expected to remain shrouded in the original plastic liner until it is removed from the vault on Friday in time for the official unveiling.
Despite the discovery of the water in the vault and evidence that the car may have been fully submerged at some point over the past 50 years, organizers told the Tulsa World newspaper late Wednesday that they think the car may be in reasonably good shape.
"It's not a rust bucket," Art Couch of W.N. Couch Construction was quoted as saying in the newspaper, after he and Jim Taylor of Taylor Crane examined the steel skid on which the car rests.
"We felt the sides of the car and it's solid," Couch said.
According to reports from the time, the Plymouth was coated with cosmoline or a similar metal-preserving substance, and the entire car was wrapped in plastic to help protect its golden skin during its time out of the sun.
On Friday, the car will be removed from the vault and the public will be able to view it later that night during a sold-out event at the Tulsa Convention Center.
Be sure to watch the www.oldcarsweekly.com Web site over the weekend for photos and reports direct from Tulsa as editors Angelo VanBogart, Keith Mathiowetz and Matt Gergeni cover the events as they unfold.