If you were to win a 50-year-old car, you might hardly be able to sleep.
This incredible story is about this type of big win. It all began in Oklahoma, United States, in 1957, when the city of Tulsa built a so-called time capsule right beneath the courthouse floor to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the state’s establishment. They left a car, a gold-and-white 1957 Plymouth Belvedere, as a souvenir inside it.
But the burial of the nicknamed “Miss Belvedere” had a surprise in store that would haunt the people of the city 50 years later.
Miss Belvedere was advertised as a big prize. The person who could make the most accurate guess of how many citizens the population of the city of Tulsa would have in the year 2007 would receive the car in that same year.
812 responses were copied to microfilm and left in the glove compartment of the car. Then, Miss Belvedere was left in the capsule, along with other additional 1957 memories of the state of Oklahoma. The time capsule was made of concrete, so it would have been able to withstand a nuclear bomb attack. For 50 years, everyone held their breath.
Then it was 2007 in Oklahoma. The city of Tulsa got ready for the big event. What would the legendary Miss Belvedere look like today? Would she still shine so wonderfully bright? The excavations began and the city was extremely excited.
When Miss Belvedere finally appeared and the protective hood was pulled off the vehicle, people stared at the car in disbelief. They hadn’t expected anything like this!
Miss Belvedere had literally turned into an old lady! The entire car had been corroded inside and out. The sad sight was presented to the people of the city. That was not all: the winner of the car was about to be announced!
The winner was Raymond Humbertson, who, back in 1957, had guessed that the city of Tulsa would count around 384,743 inhabitants in the year 2007. However, Raymond had died in 1979. So the “prize” went to his 100-year-old sister. She had to make a difficult decision.
The car was handed over to Ultra One, a company that took care of rust removal and would provide this service for Miss Belvedere. A donor paid a whopping ,000 (about €17,940) for it. But then the process was stopped.
The rust was taken off. But the car could not be saved. Time had left its marks on the vehicle. The state also had no interest in exhibiting Miss Belvedere after the disappointing result. Then, Dwight Foster, owner of Ultra One, made the final decision.
Miss Belvedere hardly bore any resemblance to the sparkling beauty it once was. “It’s basically papier-mache,” said Dwight Foster of Ultra One in New Jersey, “We did not know how bad it was until the car arrived here.” This message left everyone holding their breath. Could Miss Belvedere be saved?
Unfortunately, help came too late for the former vintage beauty. “Everything we wanted to do on the car could not be finished because it was too fragile,” explained Dwight Foster, who knew that any attempt to change anything on the vehicle would end in a complete disaster. But then there was new hope!
Robert Carney, the nephew of the new owner, Catherine Humbertson, announced the good news: Miss Belvedere would be donated to the Historic Auto Attractions Museum in Roscoe, Illinois. There, she would be a permanent part of the exhibition. But that was not all!
Foster also said that he would try to persuade the city of Tulsa to donate photos and artifacts to the museum to remember the story of the legendary Miss Belvedere. In 2017, the car was finally sent on its last trip, to Illinois.