Tulsa, Okla. — The search begins this week for the winner of "Miss Belvedere," the rusty 1957 Plymouth that was pulled last week from a leaky vault in downtown Tulsa after being buried for a half-century.
When the car was buried, people submitted guesses as to what Tulsa's population would be in 2007, and the one closest to 382,457 gets the internationally feted Belvedere and a $100 savings account, worth up to $1,200 today with interest.
Hundreds of guesses were discovered on a paper list and postcards inside a separate time capsule buried in the concrete vault, supposedly tough enough to withstand a nuclear attack.
The elements could not penetrate the second capsule, which also held an unfaded American flag, historical documents, commemorative dishes and aerial maps of the city, among other items.
The entries were turned over to the audit, tax and consulting firm of Deloitte, where a team of volunteers will plug the names and guesses into a spreadsheet to determine a winner.
The name of that person, or his or her heirs, will be announced Friday at a local car dealership. If a winner can't be located, the gold and white Belvedere will be held in trust for five years, according to Oklahoma's Unclaimed Property Act. After that, a judge or court will decide what to do with it, said event organizer Sharon King Davis.
The winner will get the two-door hardtop, but the contents recovered from the trunk, including a 5-gallon can of gasoline and several rusted cans of Schlitz beer, will go to the Tulsa Historical Society.
The new owner can do whatever he or she wants with the antique. Suggestions from a few of the thousands who witnessed the unveiling Friday ranged from putting it under glass in a museum to restoring every inch of her.
"I think with the history behind the car and what it would take to restore it, let's keep it the way it is," said Jim Benjaminson, a North Dakota car collector who has written several books on Plymouths.
He estimated it would take roughly $100,000 to restore the Belvedere.
"There's better cars out there that could be more easily restored," he said. "Just leave it as a piece of history."