TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Workers unearthing the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere buried under the city's courthouse lawn were dealt an early setback Wednesday, as several feet of water were found in the concrete vault supposedly strong enough to withstand a nuclear attack.
The two-door hardtop, buried in 1957 to celebrate Oklahoma's 50 years of statehood, is set to be lifted out of the 12-foot-by-20-foot time capsule Friday morning to commemorate the state's centennial year. As many as 50,000 people from all over the world are expected at the event, and more than 260 media credentials have been handed out to reporters from New York to New Zealand.
But news of the standing water was crushing to event organizers. As heavy rain fell at the site, the Belvedere's fate remained unknown.
The vault was briefly opened Wednesday so hazardous materials crews could inspect the 10 gallons of gasoline and motor oil cans that had been placed in the time capsule in case internal combustion engines became obsolete by 2007.
Excavators found water halfway up on the car's fenders and more evidence water could have been to the top of the vault at one point, said Art Couch, who is heading up the unearthing project.
``I don't know how bad it is, but it's not good,'' Couch said. ``We were hoping it would be dry in there.''
Some water was pumped out, and the city was to bring in a truck to remove the last foot or so.
``The concrete must not have been as good as we hoped it was,'' Couch said. ``It had some failures over the years; the concrete didn't hold.''
The Belvedere was wrapped in a protective plastic material before it was buried, but it was unknown how it held up against the elements.
``Plymouths were very prone to rust to begin with,'' said Jim Benjaminson, a car collector from North Dakota who has written several books on Plymouths. ``Depending on this bag, if that car has sat in water for 50 years, I don't hold much hope for it.''
Benjaminson, who plans to be at Friday's unearthing, said he read a recent article that the plastic used to cover the Belvedere was supposed to protect materials ``for 1,200 years'' from rust.
``I guess we're going to see if that claim is true,'' he said.
Organizers say this just creates that much more mystery around the car's unveiling. News On 6 anchor Terry Hood hosts our live special Friday evening at 7 oâ€™clock. The unveiling can also be seen live, streaming on the internet at kotv.com.
Watch the video: Buried Belvedere In Hot Water
Watch the video: Soggy Start To Tulsarama
Watch the video: What's Next For Tulsa's Buried Car?
WEB EXTRA: Buried Belvedere Under Water
WEB EXTRA: Extended Interview With Tulsarama Organizers
For more information on the buried car broadcast, click here
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