The Price Is Right has been on TV for over 50 years now. It has aired over 9,000 episodes, making it the longest-running game show in the United States. The show and its signature soundtrack theme are almost instantly recognizable in pop-culture references. The most coveted – and expensive – prizes in the show’s history have been automobiles.
The Price is Right – or, when it first launched, “The New Price Is Right” – was produced in Television City, a studio complex in Los Angeles, California for its first several decades. Earlier this year, it was announced that the show will move to a new location in Glendale called Haven Studios. Bob Barker, now 99 years old, was the show’s host beginning in 1972 until he retired in 2007 – delivering a solid 35 years of entertainment with his wit and humor. Today, the show is hosted by Drew Carey.
This iconic game show evokes memories of pricing games, Showcase Showdowns, and accordion-style curtains that folded open to reveal amazing prizes – among them, automobiles, boats, and recreational vehicles. Whenever a car showed up as a prize offering, the crowd erupted into applause and the contestant displayed excited emotion while the announcer highlighted the attributes of each vehicle. Meanwhile, models (referred to sometimes as “Barker’s Beauties”) posed with each vehicle to add to the visual appeal.
Incidentally, the most expensive prize offered on the show’s history was a car: specifically, a Ferrari 458 Italia Spider in 2013. This car carried a retail price of $285,716. While vehicles from virtually any nameplate have historically been offered as prizes on the show, there was a period of time between about 1991 and 2008 when preference was given to America’s “Big Three” automakers (Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis – formerly Chrysler Corporation).
“TPIR Cars” Instagram Account
First launching with a post on June 6, 2021, an Instagram page dedicated to documenting some of The Price Is Right’s featured vehicles has since amassed over 15,000 followers. The page’s first post featured the first vehicle awarded on the show: a 1972 Chevrolet Vega. The momentum continued, and as of today, there have been over 200 vehicles featured with no signs of slowing down yet.
Social media started buzzing when a few online outlets caught on and shared information about the Instagram account. Hagerty and Autoblog were among the websites that helped bring the spotlight into focus.
One of the key focuses of the TPIR Cars account has been the oft-criticized “Malaise” era of automotive production which covered a couple of decades between the 1970s and early 1990s.
With that in mind, one example of a recent vehicle featured was a 1991 Buick Century station wagon complete with woodgrain trim. The caption reads, “The Buick Century Custom Wagon! Distinctive styling, roominess, quality, and dependability. Equipped with standard features plus woodgrain, tailgate lock, roof rack, rear window defogger, delay wipers, carpet savers, tilt steering column, and California emission.” This was a quote from the show’s announcer Rod Roddy during the episode which aired May 27, 1991.
As The Price is Right continues in its 51st season, we are excited to see what kinds of automotive prizes make the stage. And we recommend keeping an eye on the TPIR Cars Instagram account for some fun automotive throwbacks from yesteryear.
Have you or someone you know ever won a car as a game show prize? Let us know in the comments!