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Iola Old Car Show & Swap Meet: The Calm Before the Storm

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Iola, Wis.'It all started in the 70's with a couple of cars, a few spare parts, a group of friends and a whole lot of grilled chicken in a park in little ol' Iola, Wis.

Swap Meet vendors began lining up early under blue skys Wednesday before the Iola Car Show Grounds opened for set up at 3 p.m.


While the size of the Iola Old Car Show & Swap Meet has grown by leaps-and-bounds over the past 35 years, as thousands of trucks and trailers poured through the gates at the stroke of three Wednesday afternoon it was clear that while the size of the show may have changed, the basic elements: cars, parts, and old friends remains the same.

As the Swap Meet vendors flooded the grounds in a procession that reached as far as the eye could see (even farther if you became ensnarled in the melee trying to get through Iola throughout the afternoon and evening), the area around the F+W Publications building quickly took on the appearance of a modern-day "Hooverville."

Just moments after the gates opened, vendors from across the country began pouring onto the Iola Old Car Show and Swap Meet grounds.


Every available patch of grass was soon lined with homemade trailers, makeshift campers, Model A's, Model T's and cars spanning the entire alphabet.

Jumbled among the tables, trailers, and tents, car enthusiasts will find one of the largest collections of unusual pieces of petroliana, early brass-era car lamps, bumpers and assorted pieces and parts of cars spanning nearly a century.

Cars in all shapes sizes and states of restoration flooded the show grounds as vendors began setting up their stalls Wednesday afternoon.


On top of it all, only a couple of hours after the gates opened, you could even catch a hint of grilled chicken (or maybe it was pork burgers) wafting through the air harkening back to the show's humble beginnings.

The 2007 Iola Old Car Show, which runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday before winding down on Sunday, is off to a good start with 4,425 swap spaces, nearly a thousand cars offered for sale in the Car Corral and more show cars than you can even begin to count, all heaped together in the heart of dairyland.

Trailers piled high with parts and pieces of cars began lining up outside the car show grounds early Wednesday morning.


Holding true to this year's theme "Coming Up Sevens," the theme tent was nearly full by the end of the day Wednesday with cars built in model years ending in seven, including '57 Chevys, '57 T-birds, a '37 Packard, and even an unrestored 1907 Brush.

Throughout the day Wednesday, collector cars rolled through Iola in advance of the Old Car Show including this '57 T-Bird which is on display in the show's theme tent.


As you cruise across the show grounds, don't forget to check out the spectacular car collection of the late Jesse Ruffalo. This may be the last time you get to see this amazing collection before it heads to the auction block.

Don't forget, if you aren't fortunate enough to stumble across your very own "dream car" in the Car Corral, Saturday's International Classic Auction may just have what you are looking for. And, if Wednesday's near-perfect weather holds through the weekend, vendors and spectators alike are in for a great time.

From whole cars to a wide selection of vintage gas pumps, the Iola Old Car Show & Swap Meet has a wide selection to choose from.


However, if you aren't able to take part in the amazing automotive circus that can only happen in Iola, then be sure to check back often as we will be posting stories, podcasts, and photos through out the event right here on

Where to Bid


Henderson Auctions' October 30th Collector Motor Series Auction

Henderson Auctions' October 2021 Collector Motor Series Auction to offer over 100+ vehicles including the complete Mike Drury collection on October 30th.