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Divers Strip Rolls-Royce Sunk Off Palm Beach Forn Reef

October 25, 1987 GMT

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Most places dump old tires in the water to create artificial reefs. But off ritzy Palm Beach they dumped a $25,000 Rolls-Royce, and government officials have given up trying to protect it.

Since the 1967 Rolls was placed off this exclusive island two years ago, divers have stripped it of just about everything of value, from its hubcaps to its $800 silver winged hood ornament, officials said.

″It was in perfect condition,″ said Greg Hauptner, the hairdresser who had donated the car. ″Even the clock worked.″

Hauptner said at the time the Rolls was submersed that he was donating it to reefdom on a whim.

Palm Beach County had hoped to protect the undersea jewel from salvagers by declaring the car county property. But now, the salt water and vandals have taken their toll and the corroded car is no longer worth protecting, county officials say.

Trey Paulsen, a member of the county’s Economic Council, said last week that it could even be something of a hazard - a liability suit waiting to happen - if a diver trying to recover an intact auto part is hurt.

So this week the county commission will consider whether to abandon the Rolls’ welfare to the briny deep.

″It remained intact for a long time,″ Hauptner said. ″It doesn’t look like a whole lot, but you can still tell it’s a Rolls-Royce.″