Slap bracelets, Walkman radios, and Reebok Pump sneakers were a few of the many memorable symbols of the 1980s and 1990s. It was a time of rich culture, bright colors, and distinct automobiles.
RADwood – an event that first launched in 2017 – has the era cornered when it comes to celebrating the culture of the 1980s and 1990s. The term “classic car” typically evokes mental images of Chevy Bel Airs and Plymouth Furys. But as time moves on, the definition of “classic” moves with it. Some people – myself included – find it a little shocking to realize that a car from 1982 is now 40 years old.
While RADwood has gone on to span various parts of the country in its five-year history, one of its signature annual events is held in Southern California. This year, for the second time in a row, the American Honda headquarters in Torrance hosted the event. I registered my 1994 Acura Legend GS six-speed sedan as part of the “Royalty” contingent because its higher $100 entry fee meant more prominent parking and earlier roll-in.
The journey began on the western outskirts of Phoenix, where I met up with fellow RAD road-trippers in a 1987 Honda Civic Si, a 1989 Mazda MPV, a 1989 Mazda MX-6, a 1993 Honda Accord coupe, a 1989 Acura Integra LS, and a 1998 Ford Contour SVT. Fellow motorists and bystanders enjoyed seeing us along Interstate 10 for the 400-mile trek, I’m sure. We paused for a group photo at an abandoned gas station in Desert Center, California.
American Honda’s campus in Torrance was the perfect venue for the program. The music, fashion, and pop culture of the 1980s was alive and well, with hits from Madonna and Duran Duran setting the mood over the grounds. My friend Becky had her hair crimped for the occasion, and others dressed in leggings or track suits. Honda’s hospitality included food trucks, entertainment, and posters. I took the opportunity to wander the grounds and reconnect with many friends – many of whom I hadn’t seen since the RADwood show a year ago. Some of my favorite cars included an original and well-preserved Infiniti Q45, a 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500SL with a rare five-speed manual transmission, and very clean FJ80-series Toyota Land Cruiser.
On display during the show was Honda’s latest iteration of the venerable Civic Type R. A long-time tuner favorite, the Type R was available in Europe long before it first came to the United States in 2017. Since then, it has become a popular platform for performance upgrades and customization, akin to a modern-day muscle car. The all-new 2023 model year Type R will come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 315-horsepower engine.
RADwood leader Art Cervantes took the stage later that afternoon to help conduct an awards ceremony. In addition to distributing awards for the top cars in various categories, special recognition was also given to the “raddest dressed,” which went to a couple dressed in what looked to be period-correct prom attire. Best of show went to an incredibly rare (and very deserving) white 1998 Ford Explorer Saleen XP8 driven by Nick Roshon.
My 800-mile round-trip journey was 100% worth the effort and expense. I’m eager to see how RADwood grows and evolves in the coming years. Stay tuned to the RADwood website for a calendar of upcoming events.