Car shows are exactly what they sound like, public exhibitions of automobiles. Car shows are a great way to bring together long-time and newly minted collectors.

These shows can have themes such as displaying cars manufactured within a certain period. Other car shows may be open to a wide variety of automobiles from concept cars to out-of-production classics.

So how do car shows make money if their main function is to simply showcase cars people voluntarily bring in to display?

In this article, we will discuss the different ways car shows can make money.

How Do Car Shows Make Money?

Car shows can be a great place for gearheads and those with an appreciation for classic cars to gather and admire the hard work that has gone into each vehicle on display.

From the newest models to the classics, from sports cars to SUVs, there is always something to drool over at a car show. But how do these shows make money?

Here are 5 ways in which car shows make money:

  1. Vehicle exhibitor entrance fees
  2. Sponsorships
  3. Vendor Space
  4. Spectator Fees
  5. Product Sales

Let’s look at each of these more closely.

#1. Vehicle exhibitor entrance fees

First on our list, and maybe the most obvious, is vehicle exhibitor entrance fees. These fees are for registering show cars as well as for reserving a parking spot on the show grounds.

Logically, the larger the space, even at an average entrance fee cost, the more money a car show stands to make.

The more prominent the show or the more intimate the space, the higher the exhibitor entrance fee can be. That being said, many car exhibitors don’t mind paying this fee as they see these car shows as more of a social event for like-minded collectors.

#2. Sponsorships

Sponsorships can be a great way for car shows to make money and save money.

Utilizing sponsorships eliminates the need for car shows to pay for certain activities and prizes. In addition to the financial benefits, sponsors can add a lot of fun events and enticing prizes to a car show.

Prizes for a car show raffle don’t need to be strictly car-based either. Prizes can include dinner reservations, car washes, a weekend trip, or car detailing. A fun event could include a local school setting up a car washing station or a mechanic teaching a basic car maintenance class.

#3. Vendor space

Having booths available for vendors to rent out is another way in which car shows can make money and a great way for these vendors to market their businesses.

A car show can be the perfect place for local businesses, auto-related and non-auto-related, to expand target markets, and they are normally willing to pay a hefty price for this access.

Popular vendor booths at car shows include car dealerships, car mechanics and repair shops, home and garage construction companies, and local eateries.

#4. Spectator fees

Not every car show chooses to charge spectator admission fees, but the ones that do have opened another stream of income through the event.

There is no flat admission rate for every show, so the price of admission will depend on the type of car show. Well-known, commercial circuit shows usually can charge more due to their dedicated fan base. A new, local show might charge just enough to curb the show’s expenses.

#5. Product sales

Last on our list of how car shows make money is through product sales. Product or merchandise sales can be a highly profitable income stream for some car shows.

Product sales are a great way to make money and to give anyone in attendance the opportunity to purchase a memory of their experience. Merchandise can include clothing, key chains, and decals.

Whatever a car show decides to sell, they feel confident that people will be willing to spend some money to remember their time there.


Car shows are a great place for car enthusiasts to show off their prized possessions and for the general public to see some amazing cars up close.

But how do car shows make money?

In this article, we saw 5 revenue sources for car shows. Charing vehicle exhibitors for entrance is the most obvious. But sponsorships can also be a great way for car shows to earn money because plenty of companies would be willing to get their brand in front of the car show’s attendees.

Other revenue streams for car shows come from renting out vendor spaces and charging spectators an admission fee and product sales.