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Living in the Nineties: Getting down at Radwood NorCal

Radwood, undoubtedly the world’s best 80’s and 90’s car show, returned to it’s ancestral home in South San Francisco. Just a stone’s throw from the show’s very first location at the Brisbane Marina, this time cars filled up a much larger space at the Oyster Point Marina.

 Waiting to enter the show, the Germans came out in force.

Waiting to enter the show, the Germans came out in force.

From humble beginnings into a show with an estimated 500 or more cars (and with spectators estimated to be in the thousands), Radwood has surged in popularity and given fans of the era a place to show off their cars. Aptly referred to as the “Rad” era, the show is open to all cars from 1980 to 1999, plus a little leeway for “continuation” vehicles that were built in the early 00’s but carried forward a 90’s design.

 One of the newer cars at the show, a 1998 Lexus GS400. This generation of GS was built until 2005.

One of the newer cars at the show, a 1998 Lexus GS400. This generation of GS was built until 2005.

Of course, Rad-era cars are renowned as being some of the best driver’s cars. Cars that still have throttle cables, no traction control systems, manual gearboxes and relatively minimal driver amenities all contribute towards an experience that’s visceral, honest and raw. As such, these cars have maintained immense popularity within the automotive community. Not just in the context of Radwood, where the style of the era is celebrated, but also at Autocross events, track days and rally courses around the world.

 One of the world's most famous rally fighters, a Lancia Delta HF Integrale. There were four(!) such Deltas at the show, much to my own personal satisfaction.

One of the world's most famous rally fighters, a Lancia Delta HF Integrale. There were four(!) such Deltas at the show, much to my own personal satisfaction.

That said, there is an undoubted aspect of style when it comes to these cars as well. Low beltlines, thin pillars, pop-up headlights and chunky tires help to define an unmistakable look that has fallen out of vogue in the years since, or worse -- been legislated into the history books.

 This FB Mazda RX-7 exemplifies styling of a bygone era with pop-up headlights, thin pillars, small wheels and a period-correct livery.

This FB Mazda RX-7 exemplifies styling of a bygone era with pop-up headlights, thin pillars, small wheels and a period-correct livery.

Of course, the cars weren’t the only thing exuding style from the rad era. Much like Goodwood, from which Radwood draws it’s name, period correct dress is encouraged. Attendees take this to heart, showing up in neon colors, ripped denim jeans, graphic tees and even roller skates.

 Neon shorts, roller skates and a line of rad, red BMWs. As with pretty much any NorCal car show, the BMWs were out in droves.

Neon shorts, roller skates and a line of rad, red BMWs. As with pretty much any NorCal car show, the BMWs were out in droves.

Even though I’ve only been to two events thus far -- Radwood NorCal and Radwood at Hooptie-Con (You can find that album by clicking here) -- it’s quickly become one of my favorite events. With how many car shows out there celebrate old school hot-rods or modern day supercars, Radwood is an ecto-cooler flavored splash of refreshment. From the cars, to the music, and the clothes, Radwood is going to keep me coming back for more, hopefully blasting neon rays and pumping out Huey Lewis and the News for years to come.

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Radwood will be coming to the East Coast for the first time! Be sure to check out the Radwood show at Gridlife South, Road Atlanta on Saturday, August 25th. Radwood returns to the West Coast in December, with details to follow. Be sure to keep track of the action (and see some rad cars) over on their Facebook group by clicking here.

Michael BakerComment