5 Of Our Favorite Cars From The Price Is Right (The Barker Era)

Bob Barker was a Washington-born light entertainment host most closely associated with the longest-running game show in American TV history — "The Price Is Right." On the show, Barker gave away thousands of prizes to a plethora of ordinary Americans when he hosted from 1972 to 2007. A firmly established pop culture icon, Barker appeared in a number of TV shows and movies, notably beating up Adam Sandler during a Pro-Am Golf Game in 1996's "Happy Gilmore."

When he hosted "The Price Is Right," the prizes were never dull, although the dishwashers, aquariums, and pool tables pale in comparison to some of the cars that were on offer. Some of the vehicles were practical, others were sporty, but they were all pretty desirable. We've rounded up five of the best from Barker's time hosting the successful daytime show. To put things into perspective, classics like a second-generation Ford Bronco, a Chevy Camaro, and even the AMC Eagle, which was America's first crossover, didn't make the cut. A Ferrari 308 also misses out as, despite it being the right era, as Bob wasn't hosting that particular episode. 

Here are the cars that we believe were the most memorable Barker ever parted with on "The Price is Right."

Fiat Spider 124

Fiat hasn't always produced small, unreliable cars that are ideal to pop your firstborn child in shortly after they pass their driving test. Once upon a time, the company also produced small, unreliable European roadsters that looked absolutely fantastic when they actually functioned. The Fiat Spider 124 is arguably the finest example of this. It's small, agile, and very good-looking. The version on the show had a "soft top, side detail, chrome luggage rack, and AM radio." 

It probably didn't have a lot of power, as the Spider 124 and similar roadsters tended to be fitted with small, naturally aspirated engines at the time. They were for cruising around the countryside with the top down, so that didn't matter too much. The Spider 124 name did live on and has been attached to far faster models than the version Barker gave away in 1977. A relatively recent Abarth version from 2017 still packs a little 1.4L engine, but the addition of a turbocharger means that the engine can crank out 160 horsepower. The newer version can also pick up FM radio, amongst other things.

Corvette Stingray

By the end of Barker's run, contestants had driven away in several Corvettes. However, the finest example of the somewhat affordable American sports car may be the first one that was actually offered on the show. In 1973, a Stingray Corvette with "full independent suspension, disc brakes on all four wheels, side guard door beams, a new front resilient body-color bumper" made it to the podium. It even had air conditioning, which was a cutting-edge luxury feature 50 years ago.

The Corvettes of this era didn't just look good. They had a very close association with NASA's astronauts, one of whom had famously put the first foot on the moon less than four years before this episode was broadcast. Armstrong had a Stingray, and so did Aldrin, and you could have had one too had you appeared on "The Price is Right" around that time. William Shatner also had a Stingray, though while his space-faring credentials aren't open to debate, he may not actually be a real captain.

The classic Stingray 'Vettes look still hold up today, and its performance does too. If you want to track one down yourself, you'll have to look for a third-generation (C3) model. Of course, you'll also have to add a zero to whatever price you intended on guessing if you spot this classic in mint condition.

Pontiac Trans Am

Bob Barker handed over the keys to many a muscle car during his time hosting "The Price is Right." While Chargers, Mustangs, and Camaros all have their own pedigree and on-screen legacies — there can be only one when it comes to the coolest muscle car that's ever appeared on the show. Barker gave away a Pontiac Trans Am in 1982, which was the debut year for "Knight Rider" and likely when the muscle car, and subsequently David Hasselhoff, were at the peak of their respective popularity.

Unfortunately, the particular Trans Am on offer didn't talk, couldn't drive itself, and is unlikely to get you out of any situation where terrorists or mercenaries are actively trying to shoot you. However, it did come with "pop-up headlights, full instrumentation, tachometer, and reclining bucket seats." The Trans Am's sticker price was $11,202, which is a significant lowball by modern standards.

The Trans Am remains a classic to this day thanks to its sleek appearance, unique features, and respectable performance. David Hasselhoff also retains some popularity, but that may be limited to the German music scene.

Chrysler Town & Country station wagon

Not everything needs sleek lines and a thirsty V12 to be cool. In recent years people have been looking back on the humble station wagon — once a staple of American family transport — with heaps of nostalgia. Yes, it's the kind of thing your dad would own if you lived in the Midwest in the late '80s but just look at it for a second and you'll accept that something like a Chrysler Town & Country station wagon (which a contestant won back in 1984) is a piece of wood-paneled bliss.

The car in question was far more than the basic model. According to "The Price is Right" announcer Johnny Olson, it was kitted out with the "Mark Cross package, tinted glass, illuminated right vanity mirror, outside dual power chrome mirrors, deluxe windshield wipers, front and rear bumper guards, [and] wire wheel covers." It also boasted a 2.2 liter, four-cylinder engine. 

However, it's an American family car from the 80s, it weighs a ton, and despite the engine capacity triple-figure horsepower is likely a distant dream. A 0 to 60 time of two weeks doesn't matter though, as it gives the public more time to stare in awe at the glorious wood-paneled masterpiece you won on TV.

Porsche 944

In the late '80s, European sports cars were still the height of cool. During that time, Barker gave away what was a relatively cheap sports car from one of the biggest names in the business. While the 911 is Porsche's flagship and a more well-known option, the 944 is one of the most popular vehicles the German supercar manufacturer has ever produced. 

Announcer Rod Roddy said the particular example won on the show featured "Reno radio, partial-leather front seats, leather steering wheel, [and] floor mats" — because what good is a supercar if you're just going to dirty up its carpeting? The 944 made its debut in 1982, though the one given away on the show in 1989 was one of the last models as the line was discontinued in 1991.

The 944 was, historically, an entry-level Porsche. An example in good condition could be purchased for a few thousand dollars. Things are a little different now though, and 944s are highly sought after. A particularly well-looked-after example even sold for over $66,000 in 2022.