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HomeCar CultureArizona “RADwood” Show Features 1980s and 1990s Vehicles

Arizona “RADwood” Show Features 1980s and 1990s Vehicles

Break out your Walkman and stone-washed jeans

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The RAD automotive movement has finally made it to Arizona: “RADwood” is a car show that focuses on the era between model years 1980 and 1999 (with some exceptions for carry-over body styles). “The premiere automotive lifestyle event celebrating the 80 and 90s,” its website proclaims.

The late-1990s neo-classic generation of vehicles were among the last to deliver a truly analog experience – right down to mechanical odometers – before technology became a primary engineering influence in automotive design. Hagerty assumed operations for RADwood in early 2022 and has taken it to new levels of notoriety and recognition over the past year and a half. Here are some stories from RADwood shows in California from 2021 and from 2022 to bring you up to speed on the backstory.

Organizer Art Cervantes saw an opportunity to build on some of the established success in the Southern California shows and see what would happen with a Phoenix-based program. The event took place on Saturday evening, October 14th, at Radford Racing School in Chandler (how fitting, right? Rad meets RAD). The DJ started spinning music when the gates opened at 5:00 p.m. for spectators, and for the next several hours, the top sound of 1980s and 1990s pop music filled the air. Totally righteous.

This show marked the first “official” show debut for my recently-restored 1995 Acura Legend LS coupe, although the car was on display for a short time at my local Acura dealership showroom. Parked alongside it were two other cars from my personal collection: my 1992 NSX and my 1992 Integra GS-R (with thanks to my friends Derek and James for being my co-drivers for the occasion).

In all, about 250 vehicles gathered on site for the occasion, with established parking areas for spectators, regular participants, and a “Royalty” section with primo visibility. While the RAD-era automobiles were the main attraction, the event highlighted other aspects of 1980s and 1990s pop-culture. The fashion, music, and awards were all themed in period-correct attributes. Mobil 1 partnered with RADwood on this event’s retro-looking commemorative poster and pin.

I took the opportunity wander the grounds as the sun was setting, and the attendee diversity was impressive. I noticed a brilliant Dakar Yellow BMW E36 M3, a DMC DeLorean, a Chevrolet Silverado “pace truck,” and many other significant vehicles. One of the unique attractions this year was a “tandem drift” event taking place on the adjacent racetrack. The crowd rushed to the sidelines to spectate when the sound of revving engines and screeching tires erupted. The driver skill level on display was top-notch to say the least.

Tim Eull’s Mazda RX-7

At the conclusion of the evening, a few standout vehicles were recognized at the awards ceremony. One of them was a blue sub-60,000-mile 1979 Mazda RX-7 which reportedly wears its original paint. The car, which belongs to Tim Eull, was stunning from every angle and took home the “Raddest Import” award. Another winner was Jason Pawela from El Paso, Texas who displayed his well-preserved 1998 Ford SVT Contour in brilliant Toreador Red paint. You might remember Jason from a feature on The Journal about his ongoing 1987 Ford F-250 restoration. Since we’re talking about Fords, check out the incredible red 1982 5.0 Mustang that won “Raddest Domestic.”

Raddest Domestic winner

Organizers did not overlook the two-wheeled vehicle variety of classic vehicles and presented an award for the best motorcycle which went to Greg Davis and his 1987 Kawasaki. Finally, the “Raddest Dressed” award was presented to a participant who was dressed as a “1980s dad,” complete with hiked up jeans and a vintage camcorder. By the way, this award was crowd-determined according to the volume of the applause. Top contenders were asked to strut their stuff to the tune of “I’m Too Sexy,” by Right Said Fred.

Without a doubt, the colorful culture of the 1980s was alive and well at the RADwood program in Chandler, and we hope event organizers will continue to bring future events to the region. The next RAD event will take place on Saturday, November 11, 2023 in the Los Angeles area. Tickets and information are available here.

As always, stay tuned to the ClassicCars.com Journal for more news on all your favorite collector car events from every era!

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Tyson Hugie
Tyson Hugie
Tyson Hugie is a Phoenix-based automotive enthusiast who has been writing for The Journal since 2016. His favorite automotive niche is 1980s and 1990s Japanese cars, and he is a self-diagnosed “Acura addict” since he owns a collection of Honda and Acura cars from that era. Tyson can usually be found on weekends tinkering on restoration projects, attending car shows, or enjoying the open road. He publishes videos each week to his YouTube channel and is also a contributing author to Arizona Driver Magazine, KSLCars.com, NSX Driver Magazine, and other automotive publications. His pride and joy is a 1994 Acura Legend LS coupe with nearly 600,000 miles on the odometer, but he loves anything on four wheels and would someday like to own a 1950 Buick Special like his late grandfather’s.

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