What Is It?

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Last week’s photo showed a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere that had been encased in a concrete vault for 50 years and did not endure the time trip in very good condition. Lack of space prevents us from telling you more, but some of our readers below will tell the story.

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What is it?  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
What is it?

We asked you to identify only the make and year and cautioned you to look at the front-view photo carefully. The American auto industry went to dual headlights for 1958, so the 1957 Plymouth had a slightly smaller parking light that mimicked the coming style without actually committing to it (federal laws had not completely approved of it yet). Many of our readers guessed 1958 or similar years, but we chose a winner randomly from only those who guessed 1957. We’ve included all the guesses online, where we had more space.

Chosen randomly from the correct entries was the name of Peggy Jones, of North Augusta, who identified the 1957 Plymouth and wrote: “I recognized it because my mother and my father had one. They bought it new, and I learned to drive on it. I drove it a lot. It was a two-tone green two-door hardtop.”

Jones wins a prize from The Augusta Chronicle. Other readers identifying the vehicle were:

AIKEN: Dave Meyer knew it was a 1957 Plymouth because he has always worked on cars.

Steven Mills also guessed the 1957 Plymouth.

AUGUSTA: Doris White figured it was a 1958 or 1959 Plymouth, which looked similar.

Erich Prahl said 1957 Plymouth Belvedere: “I had one a year later, a 1958.”

Calvin Jackson said 1957 Plymouth because he has several vintage autos.

Willie Thomas determined it was a 1957 or ’58, like the car from the movie Christine.

Gary Engen wrote: “I recognized it right away as a 1957 Plymouth, as I had a neighbor during my high school days in Columbus, Ga., who owned one. With a bit of research, I learned that the photo is actually of the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere that was buried in a Tulsa, Okla., time capsule and 50 years later, in 2007, was dug up to reveal the deterioration over the years caused by the water that had entered the buried time capsule.”

Walker Mobley Jr. wrote: “This week’s ‘What Is It?’ appears to be a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere. I believe the 1957 year model was the first year for the dual headlights and probably some other options also. The 1956 Plymouth had only one headlight and the 1958 Plymouth had what looked like a turned-up wing tip-type of front bumper tip. My guess is a 1957 ... final answer. Please keep these coming; they are a very pleasant change from the latest news everywhere.”

Craig Kerins said 1957 Plymouth Fury.

Dr. Dalton E. Brannen said 1957 Plymouth.

Marc Wilson wrote: “My guess would be a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere like my friend John Hayes used to drive.”

Hubert Chastain said 1957 Plymouth Fury.

Larry Wallace said 1957 Plymouth.

Lowell Fritsche said it was a Fury, white with a gold stripe that flares up at the end, with one big headlight and one small: “1958 is when they came out with the dual headlights.”

CANTON, GA.: David Anderson wrote: “Say hello to Miss Belvedere, the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere buried by the city of Tulsa, Okla., in 1957 during its 50th anniversary celebration. The plan was for her tomb, capable of withstanding a nuclear attack, to be opened 50 years later in 2007 during Tulsa’s centennial celebration.

“Unfortunately that tomb was not air- or water-tight, and very soon after her burial, the tomb filled with water. For most of the 50 years she was buried, Miss Belvedere was underwater being consumed by rust. To call what came out of that tomb a rust bucket would be an overstatement because, by definition, a bucket can hold water; ‘rust sieve’ would be closer to her condition.

“Miss Belvedere was brand new, a beautiful gold and white with coordinating interior and only four miles showing on the odometer. Allowing for the fact that gas might not be the motivating fuel of choice 50 years in the future, a can of gas was buried with her along with a U.S. flag (only 48 stars) and a time capsule (which was water-tight) of local memorabilia. Even noncar people shed a few tears and groans when the cover was lifted off her tomb. Miss Belvedere had long ago given up any hope of rescue.

“The hope, of course, was that the car would emerge unscathed and, with fresh fluids and a battery, she would start right up and be driven away by her new owner, the winner of a contest to guess the population of Tulsa in 2007. That person or the heirs would receive the car. Unless you are independently wealthy, this prize would be the booby-prize and a deep dark hole of a money pit if any type of restoration were to be performed.

“The consensus is that she is too far gone for any type of restoration. Currently located (as far as I can tell) at a safe rust-removal facility in New Jersey, a good deal of the rust has been removed without destroying the underlying good metal and paint. This has, however, left body panels and structural supports tissue thin, and the fear is that even opening the doors could cause a catastrophic weakening or her structural integrity.

“In fact, a plan to replace her chassis with one from a donor car so that she could at least be rolled around on her own was scrapped for fear that the body could not withstand that much handling.

“I do believe that cars have some sort of soul. My wife often said that my 1971 Pontiac GTO hated her because the only time it ever broke down was when she was driving it! As for Miss Belvedere, my heart is still saddened, as I am sure her soul is, that she was doomed to an ill-conceived fate without ever having the chance to bring any joy to someone’s life as their new-car pride and joy.”

EVANS: Jerry Paul said 1957 Plymouth Belvedere.

Bill Harding wrote: “Although it may appear as though we have a muddy ‘Christine’ here, I believe that this particular 1957 Plymouth Belvedere was buried in a time capsule in Tulsa, Okla., and unearthed 50 years later. The car was awarded to the closest living relative of the person who most accurately guessed what Tulsa’s population would be in 2007. The car is now in Hackettstown, N.J., at Ultra One Corp. getting a serious detailing.”

Robert Hoffman wrote: “The auto picture shows a 1956 Plymouth. (Hmmm … I wonder if it has the push-button drive controls?)”

Larry Heath wrote: “The car is a 1957 Plymouth. This car had new styling for 1957 with noticeable tail fins. It was also the beginning of the dual-headlight era for Detroit. The 1957 model is distinguished from the 1958 by the headlights.

“The 1958 model has lights of the same size. The 1957 shown in the photo has a smaller inside light. The 1958 model was made famous in the movie Christine.

“While in high school I was acquainted with an individual who owned a 1957 Plymouth with the 318-cubic-inch engine. It also had the dual four-barrel carb setup and a push-button automatic transmission. This was an impressive performance car for that era and could be considered an early muscle car. A good choice for this week’s trip down memory lane.”

Eddie McCorkle wrote: “The car is a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere.”

Jim Williamson identified it as the 1957 Plymouth.

Wayne Wilke said: “The car is a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere two-door hardtop. It was coated in Cosmoline and buried in a 12-by-20-foot concrete vault in Tulsa, Okla., on June 15, 1957, and then dug up 50 years later. The name given to it is Miss Belvedere.”

“I know that you like personal stories that are linked to cars; so here is mine about a ’57 Plymouth.

“While in junior high in 1959, my home-room and English teacher was Miss Krizek, who drove a ’57 Plymouth Sport Fury (one step up from the Belvedere). The car was white with a gold anodized body stripe and had a 303-cubic-inch, 240 horsepower V-8 engine – that’s how every Sport Fury came equipped. Miss Krizek had recently graduated from college and was not only young but quite attractive and came equipped with a blond ponytail. Hot car and, well ... ’nuff said.”

FORT GORDON: Willie Perdue identified the 1957 Plymouth and added: “We had one when I was a kid in Alabama.”

HEPHZIBAH: John Williams recognized the 1957 Plymouth: “I’m just about a car freak.” In fact, he owns two cars like the ones he dated his wife in (they’ve been wed 55 years): a 1948 Chevrolet Stylemaster four door sean with an inline six-cylinder engine, and a 1952 Chevrolet four-door Sedan Deluxe.

Keith de Vos knew the 1957 Plymouth: “I believe it is a Savoy. My best friend’s dad had just bought one when they first hit the showrooms. It was a V-8 model with an automatic transmission and 318 cubic inch engine. Wow! We thought we had a hot car to cruise in even though it was a four-door (ugh).

“Looking back, they sure were of poorly engineered quality. First year of the torsion bar suspension. They would break just by hitting some rough railroad tracks ... or just sitting quietly in your driveway. A redesign in ’58 solved that. The color was cinnamon with a white spear down the side.”

LOUISVILLE, GA.: Robert L. Holbert wrote: “The car is a 1957 Plymouth, probably a Fury since you can just make out the V badge on the front fender. For its time it was a hot V-8 with a four barrel carb. However, it lacked torque, which cut its top-end speed. I had a 1956 Pontiac with a smaller engine but more torque and I could stay with the Fury in the high-speed ranges. Nice car, but couldn’t compete with the GM cars of the time.”

MCCORMICK, S.C.: Daniel Crockett said 1957 Plymouth.

MARTINEZ: Lloyd B. Schnuck said 1957 Plymouth Belvedere.

Jim Muraski wrote: “This week’s vehicle is a 1958 Plymouth Fury. This one looks like another ‘Christine’ just waiting to be resurrected!”

Christopher C. March Sr. wrote: “This week’s car is a 1957 Plymouth Fury. Engine was a 318-cubic-inch, 290-horsepower standard. This car handled very well because of the way it was designed. Setting low with torsion bar independent front suspension. Option was full time power steering, power brake, air condition, electric seat and windows.”

Perry Austin guessed it was a 1958 Plymouth Belvedere.

NORTH AUGUSTA: Ted Wasserlein said: “I think this is the car that claimed in 1957 that they were years ahead in styling and the only car that dared to break the time barrier. If I am right, it is a 1957 Plymouth.”

Darrell Alley said it was a 1958 Plymouth Fury, the same car as Christine.

PERRY, FLA.: Larry Anderson wrote: “The rusty auto is a 1957 Plymouth. At first glance it appears to have dual headlights, but it only has single lights the smaller lights beside the headlights are parking/turn signals. Plymouth, as well as Ford and Chevy, came out with dual headlights in 1958. Also, Plymouth started the fin craze on cars for the next few years (with the king of the fins award going to the 1959 Cadillac). Can’t really tell the model; it could be a Belvedere or a Fury. I had a ’59 Plymouth in high school, so it only took me a sec to get this one.”

TENNILLE, GA.: Mildred Adolphus said: “This looks like the 1958 Mercury Monterey.”

THOMSON: Shannon Saxon guessed a 1958 Plymouth.

WARRENVILLE: James Covar said it was a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere or Fury.

WATKINSVILLE, GA.: Joe Arp said it was a 1958 Plymouth Sport Fury: “1958 was the introduction year for dual headlights on each front fender for Plymouth.”

NO CITY LISTED: Monica Heath said “My grandfather had one just like it. It’s a 1957 Plymouth, a Belvedere, I would bet. I learned to drive in it.”

Rick Farris said: “The car in the photo is a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere.”

Sandra Cliett said: “The car in the picture is a 1958 Plymouth Fury; remember the movie Christine?

Charlie Snead wrote: “Well I think there are three choices. If I could see the lower grille better it would help, but can’t so here are my guesses: 1957 or 1958 Plymouth Fury or Belvedere. I owned a 1958 Plymouth Fury that looked like that.”

Louis “Peanut” Pogoreltz wrote: “That looks like a '57 Plymouth Fury. No turn signal under lights. I think '58 had a signal light.”

Karen Hayes wrote: “Today’s car is a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere.”

Richard Swan said it was a 1958 Plymouth.

Gary Fuller got the 1957 Plymouth and said: “I had an old ‘57 Plymouth Savoy, and that looks a lot like it.”

THIS WEEK’S CONTEST

Can you tell us the year and make of this vintage vehicle? If you know what it is, call (706) 823-3419 or send an e-mail to glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

Please tell us your name, telephone number and the city you live in. Spell your name for us if you call so we can include your response along with everybody else’s. And remember: If you have personal stories of such a car, let us pass them along to our readers.

You have until midnight Tuesday to respond. A winner will be chosen randomly. If you win, please let us know when you would like to pick up your prize.

– Glynn Moore, staff writer


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