Everything was awesome. The music was fresh, the movies were dope and the hair was big. The cars? Rad, then and now. Maybe especially now.
In the 1980s and ’90s, cars were boxy and far-out, futuristic and often a bit funky. Then came a new millennium and the internet era, and the previous two decades quickly felt dated. Eventually, all those “Back to the Future” angles gave way to cars with more timeless, sloping silhouettes. The coolest cars of the ’80s and ’90s — the DeLoreans and Countachs, Audi’s Quattro and Nissan’s 300ZX — faded away like a photo of Marty McFly.
But with time comes nostalgia, and Gen Xers and millennials are moving forward in their lives and careers, with greater ability to spend on a hobby like collecting cars. And so the forgotten-about cars they grew up with are gaining new respect, and pushing up prices.
A group called RADwood has tapped into this vein, putting on auto shows with a dash of cosplay dress-up throughout the year and across the country. The aim is to capture “the essence of a bodacious era,” as its website puts it. The shows, it says, are “a celebration of ’80s and ’90s lifestyle, blending period correct dress with automotive awesomeness.”
Art Cervantes, a founder and the chief executive of RADwood, said he had set out to celebrate all cars of this era. “Things began with an announcement on the ‘Driving While Awesome’ podcast (whose hosts form three of the five founding members of RADwood) back in the spring of 2017,” he said via email. The name and concept are a play on the Goodwood Revival, an annual festival outside London that highlights a different era, the mid-1940s to 1966, and a different slice of the automotive world: British racing.
The RADwood team’s plan at the start was simple: “Bring your ’80s and ’90s cars to a park on the San Francisco Bay and dress the part,” Mr. Cervantes said. (Think acid-washed jeans, rolled at the ankle; neon makeup; and huge hair.)
“To everyone’s surprise,” he said, “150 cars and 500 people showed up.”
That first RADwood in 2017 struck a nerve. However, Mr. Cervantes didn’t know then that they had helped spearhead “a major generational shift in automotive culture,” he said.
RADwood has expanded to many U.S. metro areas, along with one show in Britain, and its average attendance is about 3,500, Mr. Cervantes said. The group has plans for 10 U.S. shows next year, and smaller events pop up at other big automotive festivals.
Its biggest event was held just before the pandemic struck, in February 2020 in Austin, Texas: over 700 cars and 7,000 people. The pandemic clipped the momentum, and events this year were scaled back. The company also curbed its growth plans, including expanding its auction site for cars and memorabilia, which it intends …….