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Hagerty Employee

Come on down: 7 cars that made The Price is Right showcase sparkle

To say that The Price Is Right is an American institution is rather obvious, as the long-running TV game show has roots in the 1950s and racked up more than 9000 episodes since the first airing in 1972.
Pit Crew

How they touted the car on TV was not exactly what was offered to the winner. It was not a car, but rather an order sheet, with certain options checked off. The winners went to a specific dealership to order the car as they wanted it, and paid the sales tax on delivery. Often, the taxes were not paid, and the cars hit the dealership for delivery to the winner, who never showed. One dealer had more than 135 cars that were never picked up, mainly due to the taxes owed on the car's value as "regular income" (it was better to refuse to take the car, negating the income). See, if you were poor, and you won, you really couldn't win because you could not pay the taxes on the prizes. You needed cash to pick up the car. And, you didn't get the car order (or cash) for 6 months AFTER air date. Sometimes, this was expensive. If you won, say, 3 cars, a few trips and some cash, you might find that you had a bunch of junk, and no money, or... You refused to take the prizes and just walked off with the cash. One more alternative: Sell the car's order sheets, let the buyer pay the taxes. That way, you get the money for the car at "fair market value", and the cash. Of course, this all depended on the total amount of "income" from the prizes. But, the more prizes, the more taxes. Best to take the cash and leave the rest of the stuff on the table.
While most of the contestants were happy, some ended up in big trouble. Especially with the cars.
Nobody saw the problems that the "winners" faced. Just the happy smiles when they "won".
In the end, it often turned out to be more complicated. More than one contestant ended up in BK...

I know of a working class family that won a Porsche, in a contest - not TPIR, it nearly destroyed them. They ended up getting a loan against the value of the car, to pay the taxes. Not wanting to park it outside, it was parked in their single car garage. This resulted in the family parking both family cars outside, one in the street. Once winter hit, that became a pretty big burden. I told my Dad that it didn’t seem like the car was a blessing. He said it was a curse that would likely rip the family apart.
Pit Crew

The trick was to sell the paperwork so someone else could have the car, and the winner got the cash. This way, additional taxes were avoided (as the car went for "fair market value", someone got a good deal, and the winner had something to win, rather than pay for expensive insurance. The trick to winning on the game shows is still the same. Don't take anything that you would not buy for yourself. If you win a car, and you need a car, and have money to purchase a car, this is one way to get the car without having to take out a loan. 

Otherwise, good luck, and, "enjoy your new car!"

Pit Crew

Exposing yet another of life's myths. Good job!  The cash value was better for 99% of the winners than getting the car.  Folks in TV land who watch these shows never give the math a thought.

Pit Crew

That Shelby charger is NOT turbocharged. Only the later ones 86+ were.
Intermediate Driver

85 was the first year for turbo. I had one.1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Turbo1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Turbo


That 83 Trans Am is so sleek. No matter how many scoops and front end weirdness GM did to it during era of this generation and next, it shows how sometimes designers get it right from start. Smooth and sleek. Beauty.
Intermediate Driver

Agreed. The later hoods with four nostrils were ridiculous, but KITT and this generation were the best looking, imho.


New Driver

I could hear Bob Barker and Johnny Olsen's voices the entire time I read this....! Thanks for the memories.
Intermediate Driver

I don't know the last time I saw a Blazer with the fabric top. Did you have to choose between tops or was that an option you could add? I remember a character on "Petrocelli" driving his with no top at all.
You do realize that most Price is Right contestants expect their prize to have an automatic transmission? The show does not cater to gearheads. As for California Emissions - after forty years, who cares? That might even bring a premium in the collector market as a rare option.
Last year, I saw an Eagle for sale around here for sale. I'm not in the market, but I sure was tempted.
New Driver

Very interesting article.
I'd like to read more re: cars in Television. Why all Fords in that old show "Charlie's Angels" or why manufacturer's logo removed from all vehicles in "Adam-12" etc.
Advanced Driver

I read that whole thing in Johnny Olson's voice! 🙂

I'll take the firebirds even though it is slow.

Not the best decade to get a car from T.P.I.R.
New Driver

All junkers . The Lincoln was the only good one.