Road Trip Highlights In the last installment of the series "Destination Time Capsule," 1950s fanatic Charles Phoenix and Day to Day producer Steve Proffitt recap their adventures with Madeleine Brand. They traveled to Tulsa, Okla., to see the unearthing of a time capsule buried 50 years ago — with a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere inside.
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Road Trip Highlights

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Road Trip Highlights

Road Trip Highlights

Road Trip Highlights

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In the last installment of the series "Destination Time Capsule," 1950s fanatic Charles Phoenix and Day to Day producer Steve Proffitt recap their adventures with Madeleine Brand. They traveled to Tulsa, Okla., to see the unearthing of a time capsule buried 50 years ago — with a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere inside.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Last week we followed the adventures of our "Destination Time Capsule" team - mid-century maniac Charles Phoenix and DAY TO DAY producer Steve Proffitt - as they traveled from L.A. to Tulsa, Oklahoma. They went to see a time capsule unearthed, a '57 Plymouth Belvedere, which the good citizens of Tulsa buried 50 years ago. And as you may have heard, things didn't work out so well for the Belvedere.

Charles Phoenix is here now, he's on the line from Okalahoma City. Hi, Charles.

Mr. CHARLES PHOENIX (Historian): How are you, Madeleine?

BRAND: Fine, thank you. Well, how are you?

Mr. PHOENIX: Well, I'm a little, you know, I'm a little traumatized over the fact that this '57 Plymouth Belvedere turned out to be a little more deep-fried than perfect. Everyone was hoping for the car to come out of this time capsule and be literally a brand new car with zero miles just like it was when they buried it 50 years ago. But oh no, water leaked into the vault.

So once it came out and kind of got a chance to dry out a little bit, it was kind of funny because the car really looked deep-fried. It was totally covered with rust. It just had a lot of texture to it, like a piece of chicken.

BRAND: So it's a total mess and undrivable and no one would want it?

Mr. PHOENIX: Well no, somebody's actually going to win the car because they had a contest 50 years ago - guess the population of Tulsa in the year 2007 and win this brand new car, but wait 50 years until they unveil it. So the contest results, which were buried with the car, luckily they were in an actual smaller, tiny little vault that was perfect when they open it up, so somebody will win this car. They have five years to come forward, and they are going to announce that winner supposedly they said in a week.

BRAND: Well, can it be repaired?

Mr. PHOENIX: No. There's no restoring this car. I mean it's absolutely unrestorable.

BRAND: Oh. So you must have been a little depressed. You went out there hoping to see this bright shiny thing and...

Mr. PHOENIX: Not depressed. That's a little harsh. Disappointed maybe. But then after the initial shock wore off, I was kind of like glad because it almost makes for a more interesting story now that this car has just got so destroyed, you know, and to see it, it looks like, you know, the Titanic risen from the bottom of the sea. I mean, that's kind of what it looks like, so it's more interesting, actually, than, you know, if it were just perfect like new.

BRAND: Okay, so given that somewhat disappointing finale, can you look back on your weeklong trip and point to the highlight - the best moment?

Mr. PHOENIX: Well, you know, I married my friends in the Neon Graveyard in Las Vegas. The Neon Graveyard is so incredible in Las Vegas. All the vintage neon signs collected from around that town as they've come down, it's like I swear when I walked through the gates, it was like walking through the pearly gates of heaven. I swore everything went in slow motion and everything went metallic, and I said how did I die and get to heaven? I mean it was really incredible.

BRAND: Well, you have your car?

Mr. PHOENIX: Yes, I'm going to be driving home now. I'm already on - I'm already part way home. I'm all the way to Oklahoma City.

BRAND: Okay, well, happy driving.

Mr. PHOENIX: Thank you.

BRAND: And let's hope you don't break down again, because I know that was an earlier problem.

Mr. PHOENIX: Well, just the air conditioning on my car went out. Well, actually - no, I started out my '61 Bonneville to, you know, take the classic car - classic road trip, but we didn't even get outside of Los Angeles before the air conditioning blew on that, and then we didn't quite make it to Oklahoma before the air conditioning went out on my new car.

BRAND: Oh dear.

Mr. PHOENIX: So you know - cars, cars, cars. What are you going to do?

BRAND: You can't live with them.

Mr. PHOENIX: And you can't live without them.

BRAND: Mid-century historian and old car nut, Charles Phoenix. Thank you very much.

Mr. PHOENIX: Thank you, Madeleine.

BRAND: And we'll see you soon.

Mr. PHOENIX: Okay.

BRAND: You can see photos and catch up on Charles's trip on our Web site. Go to npr.org, search for the series name, "Destination Time Capsule." Thanks again, Charles.

Mr. PHOENIX: Thank you, Madeleine.

BRAND: DAY TO DAY is back.

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