By all accounts, the 2023 Iola Car Show in Iola, Wis., was a barn burner. Attendance at the July 6-8 event reportedly squeaked past the 134,000-person mark to land at 134,008 in total, according to show officials. The show car areas were, indeed, bursting at the seams, with vehicles displayed in the traffic rows between the regular show car spaces as officials looked for places to park owners’ vehicles on Friday. According to Iola Car Show Executive Director Joe Opperman, this year’s show was unique for more than its attendance record.
“Honestly, I think this show had a very different feeling to it, and I really don’t expect to ever feel this good about how a show went ever again for a bunch of reasons,” he said. “The weather was perfect so the crowds were huge, word really got out about the show and the theme with the ’50s was good.”
“During the absolute busiest time on Friday, I had a chance to walk through the grounds and observe the show. I have never seen that many people at so many places. Volunteers were offering great service with a smile, and there was a sense of peace and calm and happiness, and I think that has to do with the current state of the world. Everything is so politically polarized, and this was almost like a vacation or reprieve from all of that. People were just very happy to be together and were patient and kind. It really was magic. The attitude that the participants and spectators brought was an overwhelming experience.”
Opperman credited the show’s 2,000 volunteers for adding to that magic, and to the many celebrities who met with participants during the show.
“The (‘50s) theme, the Vice Grip Garage feature was really, really good — that was super well received,” Opperman said. “Jerry Mathers was another slam dunk for the core older crowd. Little things, like the Festival (grocery store) Big Cart, and the monster trucks gave families and kid something to be entertained with. We had a little something for every category and age group, so there were a lot of things to be happy about.”
For 2023, the Iola Car Show boasted 2,257 show cars, about 3,900 swap meet spaces, 1,265 campsite reservations and a sold-out car corral. Past numbers have indicated that the swap meet and car corral were trending downward, but Opperman said this year saw a “big rebound of both the car corral and swap meet.
“The swap meet is something that, if you would have asked me five years ago what our numbers would be this year, I would have said 3,500, because of the overall trajectory and falling vendor inventory, and this year was a sold-out swap meet,” Opperman said. “They ended up reselling some swap space for no shows or sell-outs. It was a kind of testament to the group that manages that area.”
“The car corral we restricted and changed the layout, because that has been holding on really well considering you can go on Facebook Marketplace and list things for free — that had 120 more cars than we had last year.”
Opperman said the Iola Car Show staff anticipated the car corral would be smaller than in past years and this year it widened the aisles to create “luxury lanes” to decongest the pedestrian traffic, and it also enlarged each car corral space. However, the influx of car corral entries for 2023 required the grounds crew to add temporary fencing to create more space for more vehicles, because the car corral was oversold by the time the drive-ins arrived.
Opperman said “it was a great shock to me” and the car show staff will reevaluate the car corral layout for next year.”
The Iola Car Show campground is almost an event within itself, with many dedicated campers who annually return for the unique “event within an event” experience. Opperman said one particular hurdle at a past show turned away some campers, but this year the campground made a big comeback.
“The campground was probably at an all-time high — probably about 100 more spaces than the previous year — and again, we have been investing in improvements out there to make that a really good environment.”
“Several years ago, we had problems with the showers — people were getting cold showers and we just couldn’t get them fixed before the show. That really cost us some people. Some people left because of a bad experience, and now we have a new group of people discovering the show and enjoying the show and we’re seeing new families starting this as a new tradition.”
The staff of the Iola Car Show is already gearing up for next year’s event, which will be the 52nd annual. While the staff is still working out the specific details, the general theme for the 2024 event will be muscle cars. Watch for show updates at www.iolaoldcarshow.com.
Until then, the Iola Car Show is hosting The Rally, a cruise on Sept. 16 from the Iola Car Show grounds to the Menominee Casino Resort. Learn more at the car show’s website or call 715-445-4000.
The Old Cars staff was at the 2023 Iola Car Show photographing many show cars and trucks for upcoming articles, so keep your eyes on these pages for highlighted feature vehicles.
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Featured on AutoHunter, the online auction platform driven by ClassicCars.com, is this military-grade 1968 Jeep M-715 4×4 pickup. This 1¼ -ton utility is powered by an OHC Tornado 230.5cid inline-six paired with a four-speed manual transmission and dual-range transfer case. Manufactured by Kaiser Jeep Corporation of Toledo, Ohio, this 14,260-mile Jeep includes color-keyed wheels and accessories, modern audio system, power windows, and hydraulic drum brakes. Finished in dark blue metallic over a saddle vinyl interior, this Jeep M-715 includes a clear title in the seller’s name.
Kaiser Jeep’s M-715 was produced in 1967-69 as a replacement for the Dodge M37 and is considered the first in what’s called COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf, later to become CUCV or Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle) since it was based on the consumer-grade Jeep Gladiator pickup. While the M-715 was the cargo/troop carrier, there also was the M-724 cab and chassis, M-725 ambulance, and M-726 telephone/maintenance vehicles.
The dark blue metallic exterior was applied during restoration within the last five years and is accented with black throughout. Features include a brush guard, tow recovery hooks, fender flares, fold-down windshield, snorkel, body-colored jerry can, bed-mounted toolbox, and wooden bedside planks.
Body-color 16-inch steel wheels are wrapped in oversize military-style tires.
The refurbished two-seat cab is fitted with saddle bucket seats with matching door panels, dash pad, padded rollbar, and center console, the latter which houses two batteries. Features include power windows, Premier AM/FM/CD stereo, Grant steering wheel, and black flooring. The dash face displays informational placards about vehicle equipment and operation.
Instrumentation includes a central 60-mph speedometer surrounded by gauges for fuel level, oil pressure, coolant temperature, and voltage. The mechanical odometer reads 14,260 miles, which the seller believes to be original.
The 133-horsepower Tornado OHC 230.5 inline-six has been rebuilt within the past thousand miles. It uses a 24-volt electrical system, although this unit has had its electrical system converted to 12 volts for the radio and the turn signals. Torque is sent via a Borg-Warner T-98 four-speed manual transmission paired with a dual-range transfer case with locking hubs.
Chassis underpinnings were shared with the Jeep Gladiator. Stops are handled by four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes.
Color-coordination is the name of the game with exotic sports cars and hot rods. In today’s case, the orange hue of this Corvette’s body carries through to not only its vinyl interior but also to the engine bay. Talk about satisfying.
“Finished in Monaco Orange with a matching vinyl interior, it really stands out from the normal,” the listing states. “Enjoy the breeze in the cabin when you take the rear window out that is removable.” Adding to that idea: Even the color-matched roof panels are removable on this car (such was an option on the earlier-model C3 Corvettes), so the open-air experience of this coupe probably feels a lot like driving a convertible.
The third-generation Corvette was based on the iconic Mako Shark II concept car and conveyed swooping body lines with attributes like vented fenders, hideaway quad headlights, flush door handles, and a dual exhaust system. The look is completed by a set of 15-inch Rally wheels with BFGoodrich raised-white-letter tires. The basic C3 chassis was largely a carry-over from the C2 and retained a fully independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. One the updates to the C3 during its 15-year span was the removal of the chrome front and rear bumpers after 1972. I tend to gravitate toward the early-year cars like this one with plenty of brightwork.
This well-optioned Vette is well equipped with power brakes, power steering, power windows, and air conditioning, although the seller states that the air doesn’t currently blow cold. The underbody even looks remarkably preserved for being 54 years old. Under the front-hinged hood resides a small-block 350cid Turbo-Fire V8 mated to a console-shifted Turbo 400 automatic transmission and a Positraction rear end. That combination should make for plenty of power on tap for most enthusiasts, and performance upgrades are readily available for those who crave more.
Gateway Classic Cars always delivers when it comes to thorough documentation on cars for sale, and included in the listing for this car is a video with an exterior walkaround, a demonstration of the engine idling, an interior tour, and a drive by. Spoiler alert, having watched the video: The car sounds every bit as great as it looks.
“Cruise in style and have fun at the local car shows in this beautiful Vette!” the listing concludes. The asking price is $39,000 or best offer. Start shopping for your orange attire so the theme can continue to the driver’s wardrobe.
Many automobile companies used elegant or flashy ads to sell new cars, but there’s nothing quite so eloquent and persuasive as the “Pierce-Arrow Proclamation.”
While Packard said, “Ask the man who owns one,” and Cadillac claimed to be the “Standard of the World,” Pierce-Arrow skipped slogans and catchy gimmicks to promote its Classic hand-built automobiles. In selling its cars during 1930, Pierce-Arrow, of Buffalo, N.Y., chose advertising prose to be read as literature:
“In extending its Straight Eight line to meet every latest demand of the fine car market, Pierce-Arrow opens the 1930 season with an array of motor cars which again easily qualify as America’s finest,” boasted one of its ads following the stock market crash of 1929.
“There are four new wheelbases in the 1930 group… all cars of increased inner spaciousness… all slender, low-swung, graceful creations in the finest Pierce-Arrow tradition,” continued the ad.
“The 1930 colorings and upholsterings and appointments are new elements of beauty, freshly expressed….
“More important, there are elements of vital consideration… all present in every car of the 1930 line….
“Silent gearshifts… non-shatterable glass… super-safety brakes… low-swung gravity centers… hydraulic shock absorbers, etc., etc. All Pierce-Arrow features… each having been added as it proved itself… and without mention or especial acclaim.
“Nor is there any excess of modesty in this attitude. It is simply that no new feature, or any group of new features, could conceivably be so important as that which is Pierce-Arrow. Greater is that than the sum of all its parts.”
Pierce-Arrow claimed that reaching these Olympian standards was a burden borne under what it called the “tyranny of tradition.”
Fortunately, it was all true. The 1930 Pierce-Arrow remains a truly beautiful and technologically advanced automobile for its time. It debuted its most famous feature in 1914. That year, Pierce-Arrow adopted its enduring styling hallmark when its headlamps were moved from the traditional free-standing place flanking the radiator and into flared housings molded into the front fenders of the car. This gave the car an immediately visible distinction in front or side views. At night, the car appeared to have a wider stance due to the headlamp placement. Pierce patented this placement, which continued until the final model of 1938, although Pierce also offered customers the option of conventional freestanding headlamps. However, only a minority of Pierces were ordered with the option of conventional headlamps.
To see in-person a Pierce-Arrow’s design features, cutting-edge styling and technological advancements enlightens and delights. One opportunity for the public to experience a 1930 Pierce-Arrow phaeton in-person came during the annual Father’s Day Eyes on Design car show at the Edsel and Eleanor Manor (Ford House) in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., several years ago. Standing next to this Pierce-Arrow were its then-owners Terry and Rita Ernest, of Port Huron, Mich., who greeted onlookers in period-correct attire, making them look very much the part with the Classic American automobile. It was there that they shared this regal Pierce-Arrow’s story.
1930 Pierce-Arrow B Phaeton
The Ernests said the 1930 Pierce-Arrow Group B phaeton featured here survived the winter weather of the Upper Midwest and crossed the Atlantic twice, only to become neglected and fall into disrepair. It eventually came back to life through a meticulous world-class restoration that has received acclaim by winning the highest awards in the automobile motoring community. Today, the car is a centerpiece in any exceptional automobile collection.
“When my wife and I were married 36 years ago, we discussed hobbies we could mutually enjoy,” Terry recalled. “To my surprise and pleasure, she said she really liked antique cars! After many discussions of different types of antique cars we both liked, we decided we wanted an early Auburn boattail Speedster.”
Soon after the Ernests married, a 1930 Pierce-Arrow restoration was being completed in California, immediately winning top honors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It then captured the highest award that the Pierce-Arrow Society bestows — the VanDerveer Trophy, which is now called the Weis Trophy. However, it would be many years before that Pierce-Arrow joined the Ernests’ budding collection, as the Auburn Speedster they initially hoped to land became their first collector car.
The Auburn Speedster was eventually joined by a 1934 Packard victoria, a 1936 Packard convertible coupe, a 1933 Cadillac town sedan and two pre-war fire trucks. The couple also added a 1912 Havers to fill their brass-era needs.
The car bug extends far beyond the Ernests’ garage. Terry also happens to be the director of the Wills Sainte Claire Automobile Museum in Marysville, Mich., and has a 1926 Wills Sainte Claire himself.
A Pierce-Arrow hits the bulls-eye
Terry had admired a friend’s 1932 Pierce-Arrow. and while searching for a ’32 for themselves, Rita discovered this 1930 dual-cowl sport phaeton. The ’32 was at the top of Terry’s list, and he had his heart set on owning one, but he decided to give the ’30 a look. He was immediately captivated by the car. A prior owner had gone to great lengths to restore the car to concours standards, and the finished product gushed absolute perfection.
The Ernests mainly used the Pierce-Arrow for concours-type car shows and touring with the Pierce-Arrow Society and, until they sold it a couple years ago, their excursions with it were the latest in the car’s long road of travels.
“This automobile was [originally] purchased by the Meyer family,” Terry said. “They owned and operated a mill in St. Paul, Minn. A younger Meyer family member took the car to England with him in 1938 where, sometime prior to World War II, it was converted to right-hand drive. After the war, an American G.I. purchased the ’30 Pierce-Arrow, returned it to the U.S. in 1947, and had it converted back to left-hand drive.”
The car needed a full restoration when Lee Garoyan bought it in 1970, but it was mechanically sound enough to make the 300-mile drive to his home in Davis, Calif.
Garoyan hand-fabricated new top bows and hardware and replaced the front seat and windshield pillars. Garoyan had to remove several non-factory items, such as vacuum brakes and a 1936 Buick trunk someone had integrated into the body using lead. A prior owner replaced the original Clark four-speed transmission with a Muncie three-speed. Garoyan installed a factory-correct Clark four-speed transmission.
The Pierce-Arrow came with artillery wheels, and Garoyan sought out and located a set of the originally optional chrome-plated wire wheels.
As with many premium automobiles of its time, the 1930 Pierce-Arrow was not restricted to a narrow set of factory colors. Buyers could order custom one-of-kind colors and combinations for their automobile. The idea of giving the customer an opportunity to personalize their automobile was an attractive feature to those with the means to afford such a luxury. The flexibility with paint color choices back in the ’30s allows today’s restorers of these works of automotive art the freedom to get creative with the final paint finish.
“The cutting-edge contours of the Pierce-Arrow suggest that two or three colors would enhance its appearance,” Ernest said. “We acquired old pictures of the car. It was painted yellow butterscotch, several shades of gray, combinations of greens, but nothing looked good or really stood out. Garoyan reached out to Ron Dreyer, a classic automobile and wood boat artist from northern California. After a couple days, Dreyer came up with three-color combinations and hand-painted images of the Pierce-Arrow, then hung them on a wall for Garoyan and his customers to review. Each visitor was asked to vote on their favorite, and the current color combination was the overwhelming choice.”
This Pierce-Arrow is the Group B mid-level entry from the 1930 factory lineup. This Group B cost about $3,300 new when the average American earned a yearly income of about $2,000, and a home cost $7,200. Even the lower-entry Group C cost $2,600, while the upper-line Group A models cost between $4,000 and $6,000 with factory bodies during 1930.
Group B was available in one of two wheelbases — a standard 134-inch platform and a 139-inch version seven-passenger model. The Group B has Pierce-Arrow’s mid-sized, 366-cid flathead straight-eight engine, and the features are quite advanced for the era: a crankshaft-driven fuel pump instead a vacuum tank, fully pressurized oiling, a factory oil filter and a Stromberg Duplex carburetor with each barrel feeding four cylinders.
The 366-cid engine is factory rated at 125 hp, but with their long strokes and lots of overlap, big straight-eights from the ’30s, such as the powerplant in this Pierce, achieve their power at very low revolutions, and it’s one of Terry’s favorite characteristics of big, prewar Classic automobiles, such as this Pierce.
“It’s not what you would classify or refer to as noisy, but you can hear it pull,” Terry says. “The drivetrain has a good, firm feel to it when you start off in first gear and go into second. It’s a car of substance. It sounds like a big car, and it’s powerful like the big Classics of that time. Our ’33 Cadillac feels heavier and doesn’t accelerate like the Pierce-Arrow. I also have a 12-cylinder Packard that is a heavier-steering car, but the Pierce-Arrow has a lighter body and engine, so it has a much smoother motion to it. It’s very comfortable to drive and easier than some of the big cars from those days,”
Terry says the car’s mechanical brakes are impressive compared to the economy-car mechanical brakes from the early ’30s. “We don’t need to reinvent what the engineers designed. We just need to make sure that what the engineers designed is working properly and to their maximum potential.”
A Pierce-Arrow in flight
Rarely, if ever, does one get the opportunity to photograph a Pierce-Arrow being driven on an airport runway by its owner. When Terry agreed to bring the car up to speed for motion shots, the entire photoshoot rose to another level. We made a few passes on the runway and the Pierce-Arrow performed flawlessly, and I could tell Terry was comfortable being behind the wheel, shifting the gears and quickly bringing the car up to a steady 45 mph. I’ve done many car-to-car motion-shot sessions over the years, and this was perfection. The owner, my camera-car driver and I were in sync. Images of Classic automobiles being driven are far and few between. In some ways, we really fortified the history of this automobile and its legacy of being driven. This Pierce-Arrow has traveled the world, but this documented trip up and down the airport runway was one to remember.
Words, however fine, and pictures, no matter how true in life, are incapable of conveying the rare charm that belongs to the 1930 Pierce-Arrow.
As for the flowery prose Pierce-Arrow expended to promote its product line, Terry and Rita Ernest agreed with the company when it claimed, “All are pardonable boasts.”
As much as they enjoyed the 1930 Pierce-Arrow, it wasn’t quite the 1932 model that Terry hoped to find. They sold the car a couple years ago to a lovely home in Arizona where it could be driven — and enjoyed — year-round.
Think you know your cars? Then try the below automotive puzzle highlighting taillights of vehicles that are currently listed on AutoHunter. While none of these appeared on the radar of our staff per a recent AutoHunter Cinema podcast, they all are of cars that interest us.
So put on your thinking hat and type your answers in the comment section below, then click on each image to learn whether you guessed correctly. Have fun!
Have an idea for another automotive puzzle? Don’t be shy — tell us below!
Eighteen years ago in 2005, my friend Lee had the idea of organizing a centrally-located meet-up for Acura Legend owners and enthusiasts. At the time, the Legend model (original flagship of the Acura division lineup) had already been out of production for about a decade – the last Legend rolled off the showroom floor in late 1995 to be replaced by the more sedate 3.5RL. Lee’s inaugural event, dubbed the National Acura Legend Meet (NALM) went off without a hitch, attracting about 25 Legends and their owners to Dallas, Texas, for a multi-day program.
With exception of 2020, the event has now taken place every year since, spanning destinations from Morristown, New Jersey, to Daytona Beach, Florida, to Los Angeles, California, and many places in between. I’ve written about NALM for The Journal in the past. Last year, we went to Wichita, and in 2021, I was able to host the event in my hometown of Phoenix. This year’s festivities took us to the state capitol of Kentucky: Lexington. I made a 4,171-mile round-trip trek in my high-mileage 1994 LS coupe which I’ve now owned for over 20 years. The car has seen almost 40 states, so the opportunity for another cross-country adventure was welcomed.
My route started in Arizona and took me through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Kentucky. Thankfully, the trusty Legend took me safely to and from the event, and I even hit up the famous “Tail of the Dragon” twisty road (otherwise known as Highway 129) which straddles the Tennessee – North Carolina state lines. The Tail is a legendary road in itself, reputed to have 318 curves in an 11-mile stretch.
Included in this year’s NALM schedule of events was a tour of Toyota’s largest manufacturing facility in the United States, otherwise known as TMMK or Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky, located in Georgetown. This facility cranks out thousands of cars per day and was welcoming to the 30 of us who attended a private tour. Other event highlights included a scenic drive through Paris (Kentucky, that is), a visit to Bourbon House Distillery, a tour of the Kentucky state capitol, a reception at the Courtesy Acura dealership (along with a promotional TV spot!), and of course, plenty of delicious local cuisine like a cheesesteak sandwich from Red State BBQ.
Event Director Eric Edson, local Lexington resident, had his work cut out for him accommodating attendees from 14 different states, many of whom drove great distances to attend. Two, in fact, came from California, several from Florida, and a couple ventured from Vermont. Legend people are clearly not afraid to rack up the miles. “Best of Show” during the awards ceremony deservedly went to Chad Hawkins of Florida who brought out his pristine Vineyard Gray Metallic 1992 Legend LS sedan with only 33,000 miles on the odometer.
The most rewarding part of any classic car ownership experience is being part of the community. As evidence to that, some folks who attend NALM don’t even own a Legend, and some choose to fly in just for the experience if their schedule doesn’t allow them to drive cross-country like I did.
The Legend will truly live on among this dedicated group of enthusiasts, and there are already rumors about where the 2024 meet will land. Look for us in your neck of the woods next summer!
Featured on AutoHunter, the online auction platform driven by ClassicCars.com, is this restored 1968 Plymouth Barracuda convertible. Powered by a fuel-injected 408cid stroker paired to a TorqueFlite 727 automatic with overdrive, this Barracuda also features bucket seats with center console, power front disc brakes, updated AM/FM/CD stereo, and more. Finished in white with matching vinyl interior, this 1968 Barracuda comes with a clear title in the seller’s name.
During a 2002 restoration, the exterior was refinished in white with dark green convertible top and white vinyl convertible top boot. Features include Pit Stop gas cap, hood-mounted turn signal indicators, fender-mounted antenna, and dual side mirrors.
A set of 14-inch Rallye wheels is wrapped in Cooper Cobra Radial G/T raised-white-letter tires.
The interior is upholstered in white vinyl. Features include power steering, console-mounted automatic shifter, under-dash AM/FM/CD stereo, and control panel for the Holley fuel injection system.
The instrument panel includes a 120-mph speedometer, 8,000-rpm Sunpro tachometer, and gauges for the fuel level, oil pressure, coolant temperature, and battery. The odometer reads 142,900 miles, with 11,335 added during the seller’s eight years of ownership.
Originally built with a 318, this Barracuda is powered by a BluePrint Engines 408 stroker small-block with Holley Sniper electronic fuel injection system, both of which were installed in 2020. The engine’s reported output is 404 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. A TorqueFlite 727 three-speed automatic with Gear Vendors overdrive makes this Barracuda a nice cruiser. Engine bay features include black-finned aluminum Edelbrock valve covers, aluminum intake manifold, chrome Edelbrock air cleaner, and new aluminum radiator with electric fan.
This Barracuda is equipped with a Hotchkis Sport Suspension system and Sure-Grip rear differential featuring 3.55 gears. Braking is provided by power front discs and rear drums. A dual exhaust system exits at the rear.
“I have owned the car for almost 23 years,” the listing states. “Well maintained, always garaged. Recent tune-up and brake work done. Great shape inside and out.”
This ragtop shows just 64,965 miles on the five-digit odometer, and the seller asserts that it’s a true reading. For being 45 years old, this Beetle sure doesn’t look it: the paint is crisp, the body is straight, and the brightwork looks clean. However, the seller does point out that there are two noteworthy blemishes: one is located on the convertible top, and another is a small tear in the driver seat upholstery.
The Beetle was first introduced as a compact economy car in the late 1930s and continued in production all the way until the early 2000s in certain parts of the world with only minor updates. Most importantly, it received performance improvements, which is a good thing because the original Beetle (which was rated at 25 horsepower) was only designed to reach a top speed of about 60 miles per hour.
Power for this 1978 model comes from a rear-mounted, air-cooled flat-four mated to a four-speed manual transaxle, and the interior excels at simplicity. Aside from map pockets, carpeting, and an AM/FM cassette radio, there isn’t much else offered by way of amenities.
The Beetle is one of the most recognizable cars in all automotive history. One of the most beloved Beetles was Herbie (the Love Bug) which starred in a series of Disney films centered around a 1963 Beetle with a mind all “his” own. As a kid, I remember watching Herbie Goes Bananas. Do you have any Herbie memories, or have you owned a Beetle yourself? Let us know your story!
“Super fun way to enjoy summer!” this listing concludes. The asking price is $14,900 or best offer.
The brand new 2023 Toyota Prius features fantastic new styling, a HUGE horsepower increase, and an energetic personality. These upgrades in look and feel are part of changing the Prius’ image in recent years of declining sales. When the Prius was first available it was purchased by early adopters and celebrities as a car of the future and their way to save the trees. Since then, the marketplace has become more competitive with hybrid options and mass-production electric vehicles from almost every maker. We recently had the opportunity to test this fifth-generation 2023 Prius. The base model starts at $27,450, however our car is a Prius Limited with the Premium Package which retails for $36,399. At that price, you get a vehicle focused on fuel economy with more options than you would find in Toyota’s cheaper Corolla LE hybrid for not much more money.
The new styling for the Toyota Prius looks gorgeous. Per Toyota, the design was inspired by performance coupes, and this can be seen with the low-slung hood, traditional flat Prius windshield which adds to the sportiness, and the wide rear fender flares which to me look like they were taken from the Lexus LC500. It’s also where we will find the first of fifteen Easter eggs which Toyota has hidden throughout the Prius. Another interesting aspect of the exterior is the low-key nature of the Toyota badges. The Prius badges seem to have more presence, to appear almost as its own brand. In the front, it still feels like a Prius with our bi-LED headlights and cool swoosh-like LED daytime running lights. The car we have is finished in Cutting Edge, which is a fantastic light metallic silver that is accented by the larger 19-inch Alloy wheels included with the Limited trim. On the windshield, just below the center sensors and rearview mirror mount, you can find a small Prius outline, the letters “Prius” can be found in the rear wheel arch spelled vertically if you look closely, and lastly, “Prius” is spelled out again in the rear window blending in with the defrost lines. On the back, we have our final badging, including LTD to let people know this is the Limited trim, along with the Limited-specific powered open and close liftback hatch which features another hybrid reborn Easter egg inside.
The interior is small but makes good use of the space to fit four adults, if they aren’t professional basketball players, and features a lot of nice Toyota and Prius traits like an abundance of physical buttons. The interior materials are cheap, composed of a mix of plastics and Softex, which is Toyota’s spill-resistant faux leather material that can be found on the steering wheel and perforated seats. The materials chosen for the interior are often picked for price and weight which leads to better fuel economy, so you won’t find much sound deadening inside either, this becomes apparent on the highway. The interior does look modern, thanks to the abundance of screens, LED interior running light through the dash, and some more textures. The 7-inch multi-information display serves as your dash which feels closer to an EV than a gas car due to the minimal information provided, digital speed read-out, gas tank, and how hard you press on the gas. However, you can add some additional information along with map readouts per your preference. The mounting of the 7-inch dash screen can make adjusting the wheel a little strange as you try to avoid blocking it with the steering wheel. You end up reading the display over the wheels as opposed to through it, like most cars. The center 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen is a big improvement over the smaller 8-inch. It is simple in function, but responsive, as a lot of controls are managed by buttons, but it does feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The seats are comfortable; they feel better than some previous generation cars and offer lumbar support and power adjustment with memory settings, including moving the seat out of the way for easy entry and exit, a feature usually reserved for Lexus, and more space can be found by manually pulling back the sunshade. The back seats have less headroom than the front, but at 6-ft tall even I can sit in the back without my head touching the roof, and you could open the manual glass roof curtain to expand the space. The Limited version does have heated rear sits, which could be important based on where you live, but the lack of rear air vents sours any added technology. You do get more USB type-C chargers, and the seats can be folded down when needed. There are more Easter eggs inside the interior phrased as hashtags with the first being #wirelesscharger, which is visible looking in, followed by the #glovebox, #consolebox, but the most fun is the tab in front of the shifter which shows you the #hiddencompartment.
Power comes from a hybrid 2.0 liter inline-four, which changes performance figures based on the drivetrain preference FWD of AWD. The FWD model does 194 horsepower, 139 lb-ft of torque and achieves 0-60 in 7.2 seconds, while the on-demand AWD model does 196 horsepower with the same 139 lb-ft of torque and achieves 0-60 in 7 seconds flat. Whichever option you choose uses an ECVT transmission. While it’s not a racecar, it is a considerable improvement over the previous generation knocking off two seconds in 0-60 and boasting a 70-horsepower increase.
Fuel economy is the main reason anyone looks into purchasing a Prius. The EPA ratings are 52 mpg city and highway, but Toyota says up to 57 mpg. Either way, it’s impressive. With the 11.3-gallon tank in the Prius, that gives you an estimated range of 587.6 miles which is awesome. Driving the car in the normal drive mode here in Phoenix, the car averaged 40 mpg-43 mpg in mixed driving with the ventilated seats and AC on full blast (to survive the 110-degree days). It’s important to point out that we do not have the lightest foot or the best hybrid driving habits, and having the climate control on full blast puts a strain on the system as well, so if you use the Eco drive mode you may notice the car throttle climate control back. It’s best to say your experience may vary, but the EPA ratings are certainly impressive especially considering the horsepower increases.
Driving the 2023 Toyota Prius feels just like the previous generations. The power steering is highly boosted, and you could easily turn the wheel with one finger in a parking lot, the brakes are touchy, and hard to come to a smooth stop as is typical with most hybrids and regenerative braking so no dig on the Prius. There is also some CVT rubber banding with the gas pedal that is to be expected. What this all means is the driving is simple and requires little effort, especially when effectively using the driver assists, making this an appliance for getting from A to B. The seats certainly feel more comfortable than previous models, making long drives easier. If you’re familiar with the Prius or other hybrid models, you will feel right at home here.
The Toyota Prius is not a luxury car, it is a fuel-efficient commuter first and foremost. However, Toyota has added more personality in an attempt to shake the Prius image. We have new styling and more power, yet the car is still as efficient as it ever was. There are cheaper hybrids in the Toyota lineup, like the Corolla, but you won’t find as many features. On the other hand, there are more luxurious hybrids that trade fuel economy for luxury. In a hyper-competitive space, the Prius is still one of the best in the game for fuel economy and saving money.
Classic car impresarioDon Williams is being honored by those he impacted in the hobby by the creation of a program that trains underserved and at-risk youth to be restorers and mechanics.
Don passed away this past March, creating a ripple effect that was felt from coast to coast by collectors and restorers and everyone in-between. He was involved in founding Barrett-Jackson, the Blackhawk Museum, and even the hallowed Dawn Patrol procession at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. In fact, as he approached his 50th year at Pebble Beach, Don expressed the sentiment, “The cars are significant, but the memories of all the wonderful people we have met and the lasting friendships that have been forged by participating in this great event over the last five decades are priceless.”
The idea of paying tribute to Don’s love for cars and people came during a conversation between Pebble Beach Concours Chairwoman Sandra Button and her husband, Barrett-Jackson Chairman and CEO Craig Jackson, and his wife, Chief Philanthropy Officer Carolyn Jackson.
“Don was a beloved member of our Barrett-Jackson family and the collector car community as a whole,” says Craig Jackson. “For five decades, Don was a vital part of our auctions. A trusted advisor, we shared a love for restoring cars and it’s an honor to make this donation in his memory as we fuel the growth and prosperity of this hobby that Don loved for generations to come.”
The next step was finding a charity. One of the Pebble Beach Concours charities, Rancho Cielo, garnered their attention. Rancho Cielo was founded in 2000 to provide education, workforce training, counseling, and a variety of services to youth that have not done well in traditional school systems and communities — youth often impacted by drugs or gang affiliations. Rancho Cielo has had success helping disenfranchised youth graduate from high school and find their way into higher educational programs and lifelong vocations like the culinary arts and construction.
And, now, auto repair, restoration, and mechanical/engineering.
“We hope these funds provide a brighter future for many young people as well as many cars,” adds Sandra Button.
The Buttons and the Jackson Family Foundation each have contributed substantial funds to get things going, and they invite others from the community and beyond to join them in coming together to remember Don in a lasting way. Contributions can be made in memory of Don Williams to the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, the charitable partner of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, via www.pebblebeachconcours.net/charity-giving/donate-now.