An Auto Show for the Hottest Cars of the ’80s and ’90s

Everything was great. The music was fresh, the movies were dope, and the hair was coarse. Cars? Rad, then and now. Maybe especially now.

Cars in the 1980s and ’90s were boxy and remote, futuristic and often a bit funky. Then came a new millennium and the age of the internet, and the previous two decades quickly seemed outdated. Eventually, all those “Back to the Future” angles gave way to cars with more timeless, curved silhouettes. The coolest cars of the ’80s and ’90s – DeLoreans and Countachs, Audi’s Quattro and Nissan’s 300ZX – disappeared like a photograph of Marty McFly.

But with time, nostalgia comes and Generation X and Generation Y are moving forward with greater talent in their lives and careers. spend on a hobby like collecting cars. So the forgotten cars they grew up with gain new respect and drive up prices.

a group called RADwood has capitalized on this vein by holding a number of cosplay dress-up and auto shows throughout the year and across the country. The aim is to capture the “essence of a bodacious age,” as the website says. She says the shows are “a celebration of the ’80s and ’90s lifestyle, blending period-correct dress with automotive glory.”

Art Cervantes, founder and CEO of RADwood, said he set out to celebrate all the cars of this era. It started with an announcement on ‘The Jobs’.Driving While Great‘ podcast (host makes up three of RADwood’s five founding members) back in spring 2017,” he said via email. The name and concept is a game. Goodwood Revival, an annual festival highlighting a different period outside of London, mid 1940’s to 1966, and a different slice of the automotive world: British racing.

The RADwood team’s initial plan was simple: “Bring the cars of the ’80s and ’90s to a park in San Francisco Bay and put on the part,” said Mr. Cervantes. (Think acid-washed, ankle-tuck jeans, neon makeup, and huge hair.)

“To everyone’s surprise,” he said, “150 cars and 500 people showed up.”

The first RADwood in 2017 was frustrating. But Mr. Cervantes didn’t know at the time that they were helping to spearhead “a major generational shift in automotive culture.”

Mr Cervantes said RADwood has spread to many US metro areas with a show in the UK, with an average attendance of around 3,500. The group has plans for 10 US shows next year, and smaller events are popping up at other major automotive festivals.

Its biggest event took place in Austin, Texas, in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit: more than 700 cars and 7,000 people. The pandemic has stalled, and this year’s events have shrunk. The company has also curtailed its growth plans, including expanding the auction space for cars and memorabilia, which it plans to focus more on by the end of the year.

With all this attention, in certain circles “RADwood” is a catchphrase that symbolizes the most outstanding rides of this era.

Colin Pan was at a RADwood show near Seattle in September. “When I was in school for automotive design, major auto shows were either big-budget product launch events or featured high-end classic cars with a high entry level,” he said. Any show that focused on RADwood’s era was “small gatherings of a particular group or brand,” he added.

Credit…Colin Pan

But at the September show and elsewhere, “Most people who own these cars are my age, people in their 20s and 40s,” said Mr Pan, a 32-year-old industrial designer from Gig Harbor, Wash.

“Many buy cars for nostalgic reasons,” he said. “But cars of this era are just beginning to be considered classics, yet still understandable and modern enough to work on.”

Mr. Pan, his current laureate 1992 Toyota Starlet GT Turbo Sold to the Japanese market. Bought it for $3,000 in stock condition in 2020. Starlet was Mr. Pan’s pandemic lockdown project and tricked him into making it race-ready.

The cars that stand out at RADwood aren’t everyone’s New Coke cups. Cody Redfern’s 1986 Subaru XT Turbo coupe affectionately “great wedge“It has more angles than the high school geometry test.

Credit… Tuan Huynh

“The first time I saw this car, it took me into nostalgia,” said Mr. Redfern, a 33-year-old auto parts store employee and movie buff from Everett, Wash.

For the Japanese domestic market, “I honestly love everything about cars of the ’80s and ’90s,” he said, “especially the JDM community. He said his premiere was the movie “Fast and the Furious” in 2001, which inspired him to pick up a wrench.

Mr. Redfern loves the eccentric mix of rad-era cars; he is part of a younger community of car enthusiasts who are passionate about these vehicles for their quirks and unique features.

“You’ll see cars driven daily, from exotics to supercars,” he said. “Everybody out there is a little bit about showing off the cars we grew up with,” he told RADwood.

Kyle Saito’s favorite car generation is aligned with RADwood’s mission. “He owns a 1980 Datsun 720 pickup project vehicle and a 1995 Isuzu Trooper,” said Mr. Saito, 36, who lives in Seattle. It also has a customized 1991 right-hand drive. Nissan Patrol SUV all-terrain vehicle.

He started working on cars at the auto shop in high school and has been an enthusiast ever since.

“The 1980s gave birth to the era of high-horsepower turbocharged fuel-injected race cars,” said Mr. Saito, who spent ten years working on cars. He’s now an engineer in Amazon’s drone delivery program and works on a start-up that manufactures firearm accessories.

RADwood added that “not only does it help preserve the tools of those eras, but it also helps preserve, train and feel time.”

While many cars for the ’80s and ’90s can be bought for a song, Mr. Saito’s shift-shift, all-wheel drive Nissan Patrol set it back for $21,000 two years ago – in fair condition. Prices are starting to rise as these cars become collectibles rather than just “used”. And he did significant work to bring it up to modern standards. It cleaned and repaired its hull, added performance and suspension upgrades, and even outfitted its interior for overnight stays.

“RADwood tools,” he said, “not only make me feel nostalgic, but also make me proud and respected to have been a part of decades of tool development and design.”

Casey Rhodes, an aviation technician from Portland, Ore., had planned to attend the Seattle-area show, but failed. He said he supports RADwood’s entire vibe.

“I’ve always loved cars made in the ’80s and ’90s,” said Mr. Rhodes, passing by. thekrustykaddy on Instagram. “The ’80s attracted me with their looks and sounds, not to mention the bulky aspect of those years.”

The RADwood era brought with it enduring classics like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Nike’s Air Jordans. “It was a classic decade for cars too,” said Mr Rhodes, who came to his nostalgia at 26 from a different age group.

“My first two cars,” he said, “was a 1986 Chevrolet C10 Silverado and a few years later a 1996 Lexus SC.” Vehicles are 10 years and worlds apart.

But soon the Volkswagen beetle would bite the family. His father would share stories about the Volkswagen Golf Mk1 from the ’80s era. His older brother bought a Rabbit GTI in 1983. So in March 2019, Mr. Rhodes bought a barely working 1981 VW Rabbit pickup truck for $2,700 from a field where he was left to die.

Credit…Casey Rhodes

“I was so excited after the purchase that I went to a local meetup,” she said. But forgot to check oil, coolant and other related items.

It turned out that the oil was low and there was no coolant in the chamber. In addition, only two lug nuts are retained on each wheel. The exhaust system suddenly crashed on the way home.

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