I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want
So tell me what you want, what you really really want
I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna,
I wanna really, really really wanna zigazig-ahh
Released in 1996, the Spice Girls’ hit song “Wannabe” became one of the best-selling singles of the entire decade and today remains one of the most recognizable dance-pop songs in history. This musical soundtrack was one of many period-correct songs that became part of an event celebrating the cars and culture of the 1980s and 1990s.
Building on the established success of prior shows, the RADwood leadership team again made a big splash in southern California on Saturday, November 11. Here are write-ups from the California-based shows in 2022 and 2021. RADwood also made it to Arizona recently, as discussed here. This time around, the venue was changed to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. New additions included an expanded show area, a beer garden, and additional awards. Continuing the tradition, a “Raddest Dressed” award was a core part of the concluding festivities.
According to data released earlier this month from Hagerty in the form of a “RADindex,” some makes and models from the 1980s and 1990s have appreciated as much as 70% in value over the last five years. The index is comprised of 18 cars, two motorcycles, and one sport-utility vehicle. The range of genres is diverse, but it includes iconic cars that defined the era like the DMC DeLorean DMC-12, the Nissan 300ZX, the Fox Body Ford Mustang, and the Buick Regal GNX. While the majority of people acquiring these types of vehicles are millennials, Hagerty points out that they appeal to a much broader audience.
Conveniently, one of the vehicles included on the RADindex was the first-generation Acura NSX. For this year’s show, I made the 800-mile round-trip journey in mine. The car admittedly “needed” some miles. After all, it really only got used this year for the No Fly Zone racing event and a few around-town trips.
The venue had a lot to offer, and I liked the inside/outside setup. About 80 vehicles were parked inside a warehouse along the waterfront, and the remainder – several hundred, although I did not take a tally – were parked around the perimeter. Included in the arrangement were spots for the DJ, some food trucks, the beer garden, a “swag” tent, and some lounge areas. Mobil 1 was a major sponsor at this year’s event, distributing posters and commemorative pins from a booth near the front of the venue.
There was far too much eye-candy to highlight all of my favorite vehicles on display, but I thought I would at least mention seven in particular that stood out for different reasons. Here they are in order by year:
1985 Toyota SR5 Pickup
Earlier this year, I wrote a story about some of the detail-oriented restorations of 1980s Toyota pickups. In particular, a number of these are being dressed up in “Back to the Future” themes. This one was exceptional. It even had a Statler Toyota banner hanging on the side and a period-correct JVC camcorder sitting inside the cab. Biff’s wax job looked particularly stunning.
1986 Subaru XT
The unmistakable wedge shape of this car was very characteristic of the 1980s, but this car was really “out there.” The owner had placed an AutoWeek magazine on the dashboard that read “Greetings, Earthlings.” Among the car’s unique attributes were an asymmetric steering wheel and a single windshield wiper. This car was neglected for over 20 years before being restored recently.
1987 Buick Riviera
The Riviera was a technological marvel for its time. The most impressive piece of engineering for me was its CRT touch-screen display in the center stack. This onboard computer houses functionality for the climate control, diagnostics, audio system, and many other vehicle features. The car had only 80,000 miles on the odometer and was outfitted in rare “T-Type” trim.
1989 Ford Bronco II
The baby Bronco has always been a little bit overlooked, but I thought this two-tone XLT deserved some recognition. The Bronco II was classified as a compact SUV and it shared underpinnings with the Ford Ranger pickup. Production lasted from 1984 through 1990. It was offered as a three-door until being succeeded by the Ford Explorer in the 1990s. This one was in remarkable shape!
1991 Nissan 300ZX
Nissan “Z32” chassis 300ZX is a popular platform among enthusiasts, and this Platinum Mist car was a one-owner with all sorts of documentation and literature. The odometer showed over 130,000 miles, but the car looked showroom-worthy. This car was marketed as the Fairlady Z in overseas markets and was sold in the United States from 1990 through 1996. Finding one that isn’t modified is getting really difficult!
1997 Acura Integra Type R
Speaking of survivor cars, there were only 320 units of Acura’s hopped-up compact hatchback made for its first model year in 1997. All of them were painted Championship White. This car was unit 40 in the production sequence and showed only 45,000 original miles. The owner, John, bought it brand new at Tustin Acura over 25 years ago and has kept it in primo condition throughout.
1998 Jeep Cherokee Limited
This boxy sport-utility vehicle had a long production span, all the way from 1983 through 2001. Although some exterior and interior design elements changed, the overall look was consistent. I spoke with the owner of this well-kept red Limited and he told me it had over 180,000 miles on the odometer and still gets used off-road from time to time. The 4.0-liter inline-six was notoriously robust.
Back In Time
Did you or someone you know own one of these rad cars from the 1980s and 1990s? Chances are, you have memories of either owning one or at least seeing them on the road back in the day! Stay tuned to ClassicCars.com for recaps on additional automotive events celebrating some of your favorite classic cars like these.