From the moment co-organizer Art Cervantes told us the name of the event, we knew it would be incredible. Radwood. It was a car show exclusively for 80s and 90s machines. Like Goodwood but, you know, rad.
The Goodwood Revival is a British event that celebrates 1950s and 1960s motoring, the heyday of English cars. Not to be confused with the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Revival is more than just a car show. Showgoers dress to the nines in vintage clothing, with costumes ranging from extras on an Austin Powers set to a faithful replica of the Lotus F1 pits from 1962.
For Radwood, the idea was to create a car show that did the same for the Nintendo generation. Since most of the JNC staff are children of the 80s, it spoke to us in a way tweed caps and string-backed driving gloves never could. No, we want Members Only jackets and Adidas shell-toes.
It’s important to note that Radwood wasn’t limited to Japanese cars. Everything from Vanilla Ice Mustang 5.0s and Matt Tracker IROC-Z Camaros to Miami Vice Ferrari Testarossas and Kelly Taylor BMW 325i Cabriolets filled the field at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim, California. It’s as if our Matchbox collection from 1989 had suddenly come to life.
Of course, Nihon steel was a huge part of the automotive landscape. With the Bubble Economy in full swing, Japan was pumping out loads of technologically advanced cars, back when “technology” still meant features that improved the driving experience and not how connected to your phone it was.
Japanese cars ranged from MR2s to NSXes and everything in between. All the 90s rap video stars were there, too — Lexus LSes, Infiniti Q45s, and Acura Legends. And then there were the tuner favorites. Hi Eclipses, Integras, and AE86s.
As much as it was a car show, however, Radwood was also about the clothes and music that defined the Reagan and Clinton decades. Look in the background of some of these photos and you’ll see attendees dressed in Michael Jackson jackets, as Garth, or in shirts straight out of the Chess King fall line.
The 80s and 90s were defined by pop culture, so famous movie cars (or replicas of them) made a strong showing. There were Back to the Future DeLoreans, yellow and green Jurassic Park Ford Explorers, and Magnum P.I. Ferrari 308s. On the J-tin tip, an R34 Skyline GT-R faced off with the lime green Eclipse from The Fast and the Furious, while Winston Wolf’s silver NSX lay in wait.
And since the automotive blogosphere is absolutely filthy with Gen-Xers right now, several journalist cars showed up: Peter Monshizadeh‘s 300ZX and Honda CBR900RR, Matt Farah‘s million-mile Lexus LS, and world’s luckiest bastard Andrew P. Collins‘s $100 Z31.
The gang from Mazda North America showed up too with several cars from their collection, including a white-on-white 10th Anniversary FC3S RX-7, a three-rotor Eunos Cosmo, a 929 sedan, an FD3S RX-7, and the Miata Coupe concept.
They even made custom pastel pink polo shirts with the classic blue Mazda logo. The tagline underneath says “It Just Feels Rad,” a spin on the old slogan, “It Just Feels Right.”
It was probably the only show where you could see a first-gen Legend Coupe next to a Peugeot 405 next to a Taurus SHO, all in the champagne golds and hunter greens that were oh-so-popular in the 90s.
If there was ever a slab of J-tin that truly stood out among a sea of 930 Turbos and Ferrari 348s, however, it would be the Acura NSX. With its sloping hood, jet-fighter canopy and cheese slicer spoiler, it was the pinnacle supercar of the era. The later, exposed-headlights ones pack more power and performance, but the purity of the early examples is simply heart-stopping. The only thing missing from this scene is Cindy Crawford walking up to the Pepsi machine in slow motion.
On the other end of the spectrum were oddballs like the Motocompo paired with not a City, but the cleanest barely-making-the-cutoff 1999 Honda CR-V we’ve ever seen.
In fact, Honda owners defied stereotype with a selection of cars cleaner than Patrick Bateman‘s pre-murder rampage apartment.
Vendors kept true to the spirit of the show, too. Our friends at Model Citizen had a proper selection of high-end 1:43 and 1:18 scale models that fit the theme. Clarion brought out a stunning Type II Legend Coupe with 6-speed manual.
As for us, we reprised our FJ60 Land Cruiser, which was parked in good company between a Saab 900 and a Ferrari Testarossa.
Throughout the day, the DJ mixed a constant stream of Hall and Oates, Human League, Phil Collins, 90s hip-hop and the occasional hair metal anthem. A constant flow of yuppies, rockers, B-boys and flashdancers paraded their outfits beneath the always sunny skies of LA.
For decades tailfins, wire-spoke wheels, and muscly V8s have been held up by the old guard as the paragon of classic-dom. Now, it felt like a generational shift was happening. The post-Malaise cars are finally getting their due, as the MTV generation reaches its nostalgia sweet spot. This is our time.