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.
RADwood Philly 2022
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.
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.
Thanks to the SiriusXM station “80’s on 8,” I had the right soundtrack for my drive to the show!
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.
Arriving at Subaru Park, I checked the temperature gauge in my car… hot. Very, very hot.
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!”
Bodacious! Following a two year absence, it felt great to enter RADwood once again.
It was awesome to see some of the attendees dressed for the occasion!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
This Honda Accord was providing some additional 80s tunes from a boombox on its roof. Now that’s the spirit!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
RADwood Philly 2022, summed up in one photo.
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.
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?
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!
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
As always, thanks for coming along on this totally tubular journey down the open road ahead.
‘Til next time.