Funky Fresh.

After a two year hiatus due to the pandemic, RADwood, the car show that is a celebration of all things 80s and 90s, returned to the Philadelphia area. I last attended the show in 2018, when I spent an afternoon visiting the cars of my childhood. Say the words “classic car show” to many, and you’ll conjure up names like Camaro, Mustang, Challenger, and Corvette. As my generation ages, though, our definition of “classic” has a different perspective. We admire vehicles with names like Prelude, Celica, M3, and Quattro. RADwood, then, is the classic car show for kids from the end of the 20th century as they age into the next generation of car collectors.

On a blisteringly hot afternoon in late May, I headed down to Subaru Park, a soccer stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania, to indulge my inner 80’s child.

Let’s begin:

RADwood Philly 2022

Map of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, with red pin in location of Subaru Park.
RADwood Philly 2022 was held on the grounds of Subaru Park in the city of Chester, a little less than 20 miles southwest of Philadelphia.
View of rural road in southern New Jersey.
It was a bright, sunny, and hot drive down to Chester. I cut through some farm-lined roads in southern NJ, where I saw several farmers planting for the year’s harvest.
Car audio display stating 80S ON 8 CH 008 ZZ TOP
Thanks to the SiriusXM station “80’s on 8,” I had the right soundtrack for my drive to the show!
View of Commodore Barry Bridge.
I used the Commodore Barry Bridge to cross the Delaware River. Fun fact – in 1978, the Wade Dump, a rubber recycling facility at the foot of the bridge on the Pennsylvania side, caught fire. The owner had turned the site into an illegal toxic waste dump. The fire, consuming chemicals like benzene and cyanide, burned for 20 hours, injuring numerous firefighters and other first responders. The owner went to prison, and the site was declared an EPA Superfund cleanup site. It’s now… part of Subaru Park (via Wikipedia). I’m glad I read this story AFTER I came back from the show.
Temperature in car dashboard saying 91 degrees.
Arriving at Subaru Park, I checked the temperature gauge in my car… hot. Very, very hot.
Entrance sign that says RADWOOD GET RAD!
After a twenty-minute wait to park my car (so long was the line of spectators arriving), I was happily on my way to the car show to “get rad!”
Cars in grass field. A Plymouth Conquest is in the foreground.
Bodacious! Following a two year absence, it felt great to enter RADwood once again.
Subaru booth on left, with man dressed in 80s attire in foreground.
It was awesome to see some of the attendees dressed for the occasion!
DeLorean DMC with gull wing door open.
What better way to begin an 80s car show than with a DMC DeLorean? From its gull-wing doors, to its stainless steel body, to its featured place in the Back to the Future film franchise, to the company’s bankruptcy and drug scandal-fueled demise, the car is the virtual embodiment of the decade.
Subaru BRAT.
As a sponsor of the event, there were numerous Subaru vehicles in attendance, including this pristine Subaru BRAT. A combination of a coupe and a four-wheel drive pickup truck, the Bi-Drive Recreational All-Terrain Transporter (BRAT) was a popular niche vehicle in the late 70s and early 80s.
2nd generation Honda CR-X Si in red.
Of course, I immediately went on a hunt to find all the Honda and Acura vehicles in attendance, such as this second generation Honda CRX Si. I learned to drive on my step-mom’s red 1989 CRX, so seeing this car brought back plenty of happy memories.
1989 Honda Prelude Si 4WS.
Deja vu? Readers will remember this Honda Prelude Si from my visit to Pandafest earlier in the month. The owner, Cheyenne, put a significant amount of blood, sweat, and tears into making the paint look absolutely pristine.
Interior of 1989 Honda Prelude Si.
As I snuck a peak inside the Prelude, I was struck by just how small the steering wheel looks without an airbag. Auto safety has dramatically changed over the last three decades.
2001 Acura Integra Type R in Phoenix Yellow on grass.
I spent more than a few moments drooling over this 2001 Acura Integra Type R. The street-legal racing version of the mighty Integra, is one of my dream cars. If you’d like to put one in your garage, plan to spend around $40-50,000 on a decent one, although a mint example sold for over $110,000 on the auto auction site Bring A Trailer earlier this year.
1994 Acura Legend GS sedan.
Thanks to an introduction by a mutual friend (Tyson Hugie of Drive to Five), I met up with Chris, the owner of this gorgeous 1994 Acura Legend GS. This is one of only a few remaining examples of the Legend sedan that shipped with a six-speed manual transmission. Chris has put countless hours into lovingly restoring this car.
Interior of 1994 Acura Legend GS.
Chris was kind enough to give me a tour of his beautiful car, including a walkthrough of a photo album that detailed the car’s restoration. As these cars age, they will continue to gain in value – a similar manual transmission example went at auction last year for over $30,000. However, if you’re willing to drive an automatic, the Legend remains a reasonable way to enter the modern classic market, with prices hovering around $10-15,000 for decent examples.
Toyota HiAce minivan.
According to Federal law, vehicles that are at least 25 years old can be imported to the United States without having to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (via NHTSA). In recent years, it has meant an increase in Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) imports, such as this Toyota HiAce minivan, a model that was never sold in the US.
White Subaru SVX.
One of my favorite non-Honda/Acura vehicles was on display – the Subaru SVX. With its design penned by noted Italian auto designer Gioretto Giugiaro, the SVX debuted in 1991 with lines that had more in common with a spacecraft from Star Trek than with the boxy, utilitarian vehicles produced by Subaru at the time. An affordable future classic, the SVX can be yours for around $10-15,000 at auction for a decent example.
Silver BMW M3 with hood up.
If a kid in the 80s was a car enthusiast, chances are he or she had at least one photo of the mythical BMW M3 on their bedroom wall. A racing spec version of the 3-series passenger car, the M3 is designed to run hard on the track one day, and then take its owner to work or the grocery store the next. Plan to spend anywhere from $50,000-100,000 at auction if you’d like to put one of these in your driveway.
Red Ferrari 308 GT.
Eat our heart out, Tom Selleck. If you’d like to channel your inner-Magnum, P.I. and roll up to your high school reunion in a Ferrari 308, expect to spend somewhere around $80,000 – $100,000 at auction.
Red Dodge Viper.
I remember, as a kid, being stunned by the audaciousness of the Dodge Viper. At a time when Chrysler was known more for boxy minivans and bland four-door sedans, the Viper was a shot of adrenaline for the manufacturer: a 400 horsepower beast with the sole purpose of going fast. No anti-lock brakes. No traction control. Keeping the vehicle in a straight line is solely the responsibility of the driver. You want around six figures in your savings account before you go bidding on one of these monsters at auction.
Scion Xa covered in Super Mario Bros themed-graphics.
At its heart, though, RADwood has a sense of play and fun that’s often missing from other car shows. It never takes itself too seriously, which is a breath of fresh air. This Super Mario Bros themed Scion xA hatchback fit right in, and was also one of my favorite cars at the show.
Interior of Scion xA, customized in Super Mario Bros themed artwork.
An homage to the retro games of Nintendo’s yesteryear, every inch of the little hatchback was devoted to honoring all things Mario-related. I had a great conversation with the owner, Russ. You can follow the progress of this rolling video-game-on-wheels at @russlyman on Instagram and YouTube.
Trunk of Scion xA, with green pipe holding bass subwoofer, brick tiling, and seat rests with miniature TVs playing Super Mario World.
Some of my favorite touches? The subwoofer speaker housed in a green pipe (green pipes being part of Mario lore since the original Super Mario Bros of 1985), the brick tiling, the plumber’s tools, and the monitors in the headrests with playable games. Well done, Russ!
AM/FM tape boombox on roof of car.
This Honda Accord was providing some additional 80s tunes from a boombox on its roof. Now that’s the spirit!
Blue BMW 325i convertible in parking lot.
Since seeing it featured in a British murder mystery TV show, my wife has fallen in love with the 1980s-era BMW 325i convertible. I immediately texted her a photo of this fantastic example. It’s a perfect car for cruising around the roads of a Mediterranean island… or Cape May.
First generation Acura Legend coupe.
The “RADwood Royalty” section was on the lawn of Subaru Park, which was warm but bearable, with a pleasant breeze blowing off the river. The rest of the show cars were parked in a paved lot. With temperatures in the 90s, and the sunlight radiating off both the metal of the cars and the asphalt of the parking lot… it was hot. Too hot, in fact. Which is a shame, because I did not spend as much time wandering through this section as I would have liked. Despite the heat, I did snap some photos of cars that caught my eye, such as this first generation Acura Legend coupe.
White Chevrolet Camaro.
Nothing screams South Jersey more than a third-generation Chevrolet Camaro. Produced from 1982-1992, no high school parking lot in the 80s and 90s was complete without at least a dozen of these, all driven by guys named Brad or girls named Melanie. (I’m kidding… sort of.)
Red Yugo hatchback.
And no 80s car show is complete without THE YUGO! It was a Yugoslav-produced copy of the Fiat 128. Based on a car that was already not exactly a hallmark of reliability, the Yugo was more of a punchline than a solid vehicle, with Tom and Ray Magliozzi of NPR’s Car Talk naming the Yugo the “Worst Car of the Millennium.” That said, it warms my heart to see that someone has put so much time, attention, and detail into keeping this one on the road.
Chevrolet Camaro parked in front of Commodore Barry Bridge.
RADwood Philly 2022, summed up in one photo.
License plate on Chrysler Conquest that says PURE RAD.
I couldn’t say it better myself! After enjoying my time at the show (and putting up with the heat for as long as I could), I headed back to the parking lot to cool off in the air conditioned comfort of my Accord.
2012 Honda Accord in parking lot.
Now there’s a sight for sore eyes…. my Accord has a fantastic A/C system, and I immediately put it to work. Give it another decade, and maybe this little coupe can start showing up at “modern classic” events as a participant… am I right?
RADWOOD T-Shirt and Redwood rainbow sticker on wooden table..
Arriving at home, I admired my souvenirs: my latest RADwood T-shirt (I’ll wear it with pride), and a sticker I received as a free gift for holding onto my 2020 ticket. When the RADwood Philly 2020 show was cancelled due to the pandemic, tickets holders were either able to get a refund or hold onto their tickets. Those of us who held onto our tickets were surprised with a choice of several cool, retro-themed stickers. The “Reading RADwood” sticker was my reward… gladly accepted!
Car odometer reading 199000 TRIP A 247.4
The next morning, my Accord crossed another milestone… the final milestone on the road to 200,000. 199,000 is now on the books… less than a thousand to go. ONWARD!!

Wrapping Up

If you can’t tell from the number of times I said it throughout this post, it felt great to get back to RADwood Philly after a two year absence. It was an afternoon of nostalgia, from the classic cars, to the DJ playing the greatest hits of the 1980s, to the people dressed in Zubaz pants and day-glo colors. If you are a fan of modern classic cars, or are a Generation Xer or a Millenial who wants to be transported to your childhood for a few hours, then RADwood is the car show for you. Four shows remain on the RADwood calendar: Northern California (July), the Pacific Northwest (July), Detroit (September), and Southern California (November), and you can get more information by visiting the RADwood website.

As always, thanks for coming along on this totally tubular journey down the open road ahead.

‘Til next time.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Funky Fresh.

  1. Tim, with some extra time this morning to read through my emails, I have to say I enjoyed finding this among them. It is always a pleasant, informative experience to read and glean from your posts. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been to one of these shows, but want to go now. That MT Legend is really interesting. I had no idea they were that rare.

    I stopped by an area Chevy dealer a few nights ago because they have a red IROC Z like I had in high school. Brought back some memories.

    I still like shows with older cars like you described, but it’s neat to see this era of cars getting attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking it out! Chris’s Legend sedan was really beautiful in person – it’s obvious he’s put a ton of TLC into that car. Next stop… 200k! (Fingers crossed).

      Like

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