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.