Car Show Classics : RADwood LA 2018

80’s and 90’s retro is definitely the “in-thing” right now.  Just look at some of the popular shows on TV right now.  From new creations like “Stranger Things” and “GLOW”, to revivals of sitcoms like “Will and Grace”, “Murphy Brown”, and “Roseanne/The Connors”.  It’s also true in car culture, and a new car show called RADwood.

If you haven’t heard about RADwood, this is from the RADwood website:

RADwood is a celebration of ’80s and ’90s automotive lifestyle. The car show that blends period correct dress with automotive awesomeness. A period correct event for cars, trucks, and bikes from 1980-1999 that captures the essence of a bodacious era.

The very first RADwood took place in June of 2017 in the San Francisco Bay Area.  In the past year, the event has expanded to include cities such as Philadelphia, Austin, and Los Angeles.  For 2019, RADwood currently has 9 dates and locations.  I highly encourage you to go.  I attended RADwood LA, which was hosted at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Forbidden Fruit (in the U.S.)

There were so many interesting cars that were never sold in the U.S.  Thanks to the efforts of Mercedes Benz in the mid 1980s, you can import any of these “not for sale in the U.S.” cars here after they are 25 years old.  As I get older, more and more of the cars I read about as a teenager are starting to show up on the roads here.

Oooh-la-la, check out these two French hotties.  The Renault R5 Turbo started out as the car we know stateside as the Renault LeCar.  The LeCar was a front engine, FWD car.  To homologate for rally racing, Renault turned it into this mid-engine, RWD, wide-body rally beast!  The Peugeot 205 GTI behind it was the French answer to the very popular Golf GTI.

The show had all sorts of cars with unconventional doors.  Here is a BMW Z1, with doors that drop down into the lower sill area.

How about a Toyota Sera?  This was based on the Tercel platform, and had the wonderful “butterfly” doors.  The US got a similar looking Paseo, but it was not nearly as wild.

Finally there was a tiny Autozam AZ-1 with gull-wing doors.  Lots of scoops and spoilers, but the intakes on the side behind the rear door show that this was a rear engined car.

Is this a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth?  The LHD configuration and the turbo 2.3L OHC engine shows that it is just a very well done clone.  It is based off of the Merkur XR4Ti, the U.S. version of the Ford Sierra.


There were lots of pony cars at the show.  Starting out with Mustangs, here is a Fox body Saleen convertible.  Given the #340, this would have to be either a 1988 or a 1989.

A nicely customized bubble-back Capri RS Turbo.

What appears to be a bone stock LX 5.0.

There was even a fully restored SSP 5.0L Mustang notchback representing the California Highway Patrol.  Check out the 80’s-tastic outfit she is wearing.

3rd generation F-bodies were also well represented, primarily by a particular TV Show.  Here is one K.I.T.T. replica, with the red scanner in motion.

Just down the row was another K.I.T.T. replica…

…parked next to a K.A.R.R. repilca.  K.A.R.R. was K.I.T.T.’s evil twin.

This was one of two C4 ZR1s at the show.

I’m pretty sure that this is Scott’s LTD LX that I also saw at the Malaise Daze Car show.  It is sporting some new wheels since the last time I saw it, and I’m really liking them.

“The Homer” also made an appearance at RADwood.  This is actually a race car, raced in the 24 Hours of LeMons series.  It is based off of an E30 BMW, but since it’s “The Homer” it belongs in the American category.

A very clean looking Thunderbird SuperCoupe.


If there was one make that dominated the show, it was Porsche.  There were a lot of air-cooled 911s around.


There was a quintet of 80’s customized Mercedes Benzes.  There were very period correct with their modifications except for the wheels.  The style is right for the era, but the size is too big for the era.  However I like the size on them.  Here is a W124 convertible and a W126 SEL sedan with a body kit.

My favorite of the bunch is the cocaine-white over cocaine-white gull-wing W126 SEC coupe.  The briefcase full of (presumably) drug money with the Motorola brick phone, as well as the owner’s attire, were the icing on this cake.  Behind it is another white SEC convertible.

The final custom Benz was the most colorful.  Another SEC convertible conversion, this one also being a widebody.  The red and gold color scheme was over the top outrageous.

A little more subdued were these Volvo wagons.  Here is an 850 R wagon (with a cameo by a Toyota Previa minivan)….

…and a nicely modified 240 wagon.


Acura was a partial sponsor of the event.  They brought out a very nice yellow Integra Type R, and behind it was the final scale mockup of the car when it was being designed.

Acura also pulled out the 1995 CL-X concept car.  This previewed the upcoming Acura CL back in the day.

This IMSA-style widebody Datsun 280ZX looked ready to race.

This Toyota Corolla SR5 was another with modifications straight out of the mid-80’s.

This 50th Anniversary Z31 Nissan 300ZX was in pristine condition, and still sported a California Sunset license plate.

This was one of two Subaru SVXs at the show.

Could this be Japan’s Buick?  A very clean Infiniti M30, looked like it had been driven by a lil’ ol’ lady.

This Toyota Tercel 4WD wagon has to be the model for today’s crossovers?  Car platform, both with a couple of extra inches in height, green house a couple extra inches taller, 5-door hatchback utility, and an AWD system.  You can find that same formula on any new car lot, in sizes S/M/L.

There were two, yes two, Daihatsu Charades at the show.  This gray one, and the white one behind it.


There were quite a number of trucks at the show as well.  Dodge was well represented by this crew-cab dually, with a very 70’s colorful stripe job.  Although with that grille, I think that this is a little older than the 1980 cutoff.

This 1983 Dodge Ram van represented the tail end of the custom van craze from the 70’s.

These two brutes represented the last of the line for the first generation Dodge Ram pickup.  The white single cab dually and the two tone extended cab both featured the 5.9L Cummins Turbo Diesel engine.

A trio of Toyotas; mid-90s J80 series Land Cruiser, mid-80’s pickup truck, and a “Wonder Wagon” Van.

Another Toyota pickup, modified as a “desert runner” truck.  Behind it is one of two Bronco IIs that were at the show.

And another Toyota pickup, a modified mini-truck.  Hydraulics and a dancing bed represented the Mini-Truckin era very well.

GM Performance trucks were out for the show.  Here is a 1991 GMC Syclone.  1 of 2,995 produced.

Not too far from the Syclone was the follow up, a 1992 GMC Typhoon.  This one had several modifications, my favorite of which was the license plate “POS 92TY”.  If the colors are still factory, this is 1 of 1292 built.

What???  Another Typhoon?  Yup.  This red over gray 1992 Typhoon is 1 of 345 built that year.  The Oldsmobile Custom cruiser behind it sported an LS engine swap.


A couple of Lamborghini Countaches were at the show.  The red one belongs to Matt Farah, of The Smoking Tire Youtube channel.

This was the first time I had ever laid my eyes on a Bugatti EB-110 in the flesh.

This was also the first time I have seen a Consulier GTP in the flesh.  But I didn’t get to see just one, but two parked side by side.  These were originally powered by Chrysler Turbo-4 cylinder engines.  Read more on

The first of two Ferarri Testarossas, this one in gray metallic over red.

The second in the typical Ferrari color scheme, red over tan.  The second SVX makes an appearance, matching the Ferrari’s colors.

A beautiful black 308 GTS was on the top deck of the parking garage.

After seeing the Bugatti EB 110, and two Consulier GTPs, I wasn’t expected to have another first sighting.  This one being a Vector W8!!

My Top 3!!

After all of that, I’ve saved my favorite three cars of the show until the last.  First up is this MkII Toyota Supra.  This thing had the best 80’s paint job.  The neon stripes, “squiggle” graphics, and the geometric pattern all scream out from the 80s.

Next up is this very clean looking 1991 Dodge Shelby Daytona.  I’ve always loved turbo Dodge’s from the 80s.  My first car was a non-turbo Plymouth Turismo.  I’m drawn to these when I see them, especially in such good condition.  You’ve probably noticed that isn’t the transverse turbocharged 4-cylinder it should have.

This bad boy has been converted to RWD, and sports a modified 5.7L HEMI V8 from a later model Dodge Charger.  On top is the 6.1L intake from the SRT8 models.  Out back, a narrowed LX Charger rear cradle supports the rear end and independent rear suspension.

The interior is clean and perfect.  Yes, that is a manual transmission shifter.  This sports a 6-speed manual out of a late model Dodge Challenger.  According to the owner, all of the gauges work correctly after some modifications.

I saved my favorite for last.  I geeked out over this beautiful Bonneville SSE.  I loved the color, the color matched wheels and the period-correct front end mask (or “bra” as we called them).


Inside it had the sport bucket seats, and all those glorious Pontiac buttons.  12 on the steering wheel, and 9 for the power seat controls.  The Motorola Star Tac phone and the 1996 Thomas Guide map book really complete the time travel back to the 1990s.

Thanks for reading and I hope that you enjoyed all the photos.  Again, if you have a chance to attend a RADwood event, I highly suggest you do.  Such a wide variety of cars in one show is an amazing treat.