All eyes were on Miss Belvedere Friday Night as she made what is perhaps the most anticipated Debut in modern times. After fifty years in waiting, unfortunately most of that time submerged due to limitations of the technology that sought to protect her, the cover was lifted off of the most famous 1957 Plymouth of all time. There was thunderous applause.
She has made the transition from automobile to artifact. Completely fused by rust into a solid mass of metal, she looks like a sculpture. Some dismiss her as an old rusty wreck, but she is much more multifaceted than that. In some ways, she is perfect- her sides are arrow straight. She has never endured so much as a door ding. Her tires have full original tread depth, and the names of people who signed them in 1957 are still legible. She never scuffed a whitewall, never tapped a bumper in a parking lot. No ice cream cones were ever dropped on her upholstery. Her gasoline tank was never even filled. She was simply drowned in place and entombed in the red Oklahoma clay.
In the end, she turns out to be a more intimate testimony to the state of society in 1957 than was anticipated. Her vault was proudly described as bomb proof, which eloquently describes the mental state of civic leaders at that time. A bomb was anticipated as a greater threat than the waters that consumed her. Her waterproof gunnite vault, which had no capacity for drainage, proved to be her swimming pool. Her protective high-tech metalam barrier ended up sticking to her finish, the thin layer of aluminum no doubt inspiring electrolysis on her body. And the highly touted custom made Kennedy Car liner, her vacuum sealed bag, failed along the lower heat sealed seams (the ones carefully sealed on site) inviting the waters in and turning her into the Plymouth Aquarium.
None of this post game analysis detracted in the least from the excitement of her unearthing and unveiling. While people would have no doubt loved to have seen her emerge as a Pristine Christine, they nonetheless appreciated her for the artifact she has become. She served as a marvelous bridge to our recent past. People travelled all over the globe to welcome her back. And the physical condition was far less important that just the ability to lay eyes on what had been legend for fifty years. She is one degree of separation from 1957.
People came who had seen her then, and watched her lowered into the vault. People came whose loved ones were part of Tulsarama but no are longer with us. They became the eyes and ears of their predecessors, keeping the promise to be there when the car was unearthed. People came who had never seen her, and never been to Tulsa. They came to watch the completion of an ambitious dream of fifty years ago. She is a marvelous link to a kinder and gentler time. I hope she is preserved exactly as she is.