The Iola Car Show: Everything It's Cracked Up to Be and More
If you've never been to the Iola Car Show in Iola, Wisconsin, it is certainly an automotive bucket list item you must check off. So tighten those shoe strings and hold on to your hats, because we're about to take you through one of the coolest shows this country has to offer.
One of the oldest car shows in the country as well as one of the largest in the region, the Iola Car Show offers thousands of show cars, over 4,000 swap meet booths, exceptional industry-leading vendors and personalities, a Special Exhibit area featuring vehicles that fit the show's yearly theme, and so much more. Just the expanse of the Iola Show Grounds is staggering (the show owns their own 300+ acre show grounds in the small town of Iola, WI), but once you catch wind of all the show has to offer, hiking from one end of the event to the other will no longer be in question.
This year, the 45th Annual Iola Car Show kicked off on Thursday, July 6, and ran through Saturday, July 8, with the special theme of the year, “Firebirds, Camaros and Pony Cars,” in celebration of the F-body's 50th birthday. Going along with the theme, those wishing to display their show cars were encouraged to bring out their F-bodies and similarly-aged pony cars for a special exhibit.
Friday at the Iola Car Show Grounds was by far the busiest of the three days. By 8:30 a.m., most of the show car areas were packed full with vehicles still arriving in droves at every gate throughout the morning. Fortunately, the show grounds are plenty big enough to house a couple thousand show vehicles — and the staff used every available space to make sure everyone who wanted to show off their ride had the opportunity to do so. In the afternoon, the special arrival of the National T-Bucket Alliance was a crowd favorite, which ended the organization's week of cruising and club activities with a cruise to the Iola show from Greenbay.
From factory-correct to significantly modified, the muscle car era was well represented, spanning all of the major manufacturers. Fittingly, there were more F-bodies on the show grounds, both in the Special Exhibit area and mixed in with the other show vehicles on display. If you're an F-body aficionado, this was certainly the place to see about every variety, trim level, factory-option and pro-touring style you could think of.
While hundreds of people came specifically to see all of the amazing show cars on display, others came to find the perfect deal in the swap meet and car corral areas. Whether you were looking for OEM parts to complete your classic, new tires to plant 'er on the ground, or any number of performance parts to get 'er running in tip-top fashion, there was a vendor or booth there for it. They say there are over 4,000 vendor and swap meet spots filled at the Iola Car Show, and let us tell you, that is no exaggeration — we walked just about every row!
The car corral area gave those looking for a project vehicle just about every choice under the sun, from low-mileage stock to wildly built. While there were certainly a fair share of classics and hot rods, there were also dozens of muscle cars and vehicles with some serious pro-touring potential on hand.
On Saturday, the show was again in full swing, just with slightly fewer people in attendance. Classic cars and trucks still covered the Iola Car Show Grounds as far as the eye could see with the main “post-war” vehicle section hosting the majority of the vehicles.
There were so many cool aspects of the Iola Car Show that we could just go on and on about, but it's certainly more fun to experience for yourself. So, if you're looking for a mid-summer trip in the future, be sure to have the Iola Car Show on your radar. You won't be disappointed.
Show dates have been released for the Iola Car Show all the way through 2022. For more information on upcoming shows, visit IolaOldCarShow.com.