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

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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. If you watched The Price is Right every weekday morning in the ’70s and ’80s, you saw both appealing and mundane vehicles getting the star treatment. They were glimmering prizes that made contestants joyously scream in delight, as they lived the rock star life on stage with Bob Barker and his crew—while other cars of their ilk languished on dealer lots waiting for a new home. So get close to your television monitor, brace yourself for valuable options like an FM stereo and proper California Emissions, and take a walk down memory lane, thanks to an Instagram channel dedicated to the cars of The Price is Right.

 

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Remember the original crossover utility, the AMC Eagle? Remember the Brougham-worthy coupe version, with all the period-correct callbacks of the era? Yes, you coulda won a padded landau roof, button-tufted leather seats, top-dollar AM/FM cassette player, and gorgeous caramel-brown paint to go with your all-wheel-drive needs. But this 1982 model also came equipped with The Price is Right staple of California Emissions, cutting down a smidge of power from the standard 2.5-liter four banger. Announcer Johnny Olson was indeed right when he said on this show’s December 1982 airing that, “It’s a terrific prize worth $11,036!”

 

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Moving up the utility vehicle spectrum is this Chevrolet Blazer, where one lucky contestant could win one with a fabric top and white steel wheels and bumpers. Aired in June 1977, Johnny Olson said, “It’s the rough and rugged sportsman vehicle,” and the optional four-wheel drive and automatic transmission certainly made that a reality. The Malaise era gave us some real winners, and Squarebody GM trucks have long-term appeal worthy of this famous TV game show.

 

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No, this isn’t a Knight Rider TV crossover event, it’s just one of the hottest performers of the era, waiting to be won by participants on the January 1983 airing of The Price is Right show. The 1983 Firebird Trans Am sported one of the slipperiest bodies on the planet, and Olson called it “handsome.” Which is fine, but many viewers likely wished the Trans Am would speak for itself and encourage someone to take it home before David Hasselhoff finds out.

 

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Oh yes, contestants could win a brand new Shelby! One of the finest front-wheel-drive (and soon-to-be turbocharged) Chrysler products, the Dodge Shelby Charger, was up for grabs in March 1984. Not surprisingly, California Emissions was added to the options list, but sadly the automatic transmission inclusion was far more tragic. Still, who wouldn’t want to see this car behind that magical curtain?

 

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Supercar giveaways aren’t normal fare on game shows, but the C4 Corvette ran with the big boys for a fraction of the price. Olson remarked about the all-new 1984 Corvette’s “wind tunnel design,” but sadly the insane handling provided by the Z51 suspension package wasn’t part of the deal. Avoiding that jarring Z51 ride was beneficial, as were California emissions, but the optional four-speed automatic disappoints the Puritanical enthusiasts reading this article. No matter, how many new cars that year could keep up, much less surpass this C4’s command performance?

 

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Sometimes a command performance has nothing to do with speed, as custom vans of the 1970s had all the style in the world. This Dodge Van was customized by Leisure & Recreational Products, given the name “Andromeda,” and presented on The Price is Right in May 1977. Olson said it offered “the conveniences of home” with “burr accenting, horseshoe lounge area, mirror ceiling, sink, water supply, icebox, bed, swivel bucket seats, AM/FM 8 track stereo, custom paint, mag wheels, and air conditioning!” My guess is this black-on-silver Dodge still gets people screaming with delight, because you must always respect the van.

 

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What if you want a true luxury experience along with your style? The Price is Right often made dreams come true, with cars that weren’t terribly memorable when new and are utterly forgettable today. The 1983 Continental (technically not a Lincoln Continental, because exclusivity) retailed for a lofty $21,201, and this example hit the airwaves in December 1983. It was hard loaded with options normally found on a Givenchy model, rode atop Ford’s famous Fox Body, and of course had California Emissions.

Opinions of those rare slantback Continental enthusiasts notwithstanding, how great is it to see this forgotten oddball and all the others get their 15 seconds of fame on TV … only to live forever on Instagram?

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