Radwood 2: A Neon-And-Denim Time Machine To The ’80s And ’90s
Photography by Zach James Todd
Do you have daydreams where you’re buying shares of the ‘86 Microsoft IPO at $20 a pop over a plastic Siemens car phone from the swaddling comfort of a big-body SEL Benz? Does your idea of vintage motoring include removable T-tops, a hi-fi system, and a bunch of plastic trim pieces vibrating to a mixtape of Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode? Does your watch have a button for multiplication on it? Does your idea of a bodacious babe involve a Poison soundtrack and a bunch of acid-washed denim flying around in the back seat of an IROC Camaro? Do you like your cars to spell out “Intercooler,” “Injected,” and “Turbo” down their flanks? Think OBDII should stick a plug up its 16-point connection port? You should have been at Radwood 2.
If you aren’t already aware, the ultimate celebration of ‘80s and ‘90s motoring and all its attendant neon colors and noisy polyester jackets just marked its second occurrence since its inception last year, and this past Saturday saw the Phoenix Club in Anaheim was overrun with nostalgia for this bygone era of automotive extravagance in all its hits and misses.
I spent the day trying not to have my ankles taken out by Honda Motocompos as I bounced between way-too-accurate Fast and the Furious homages, Testarossas, factory-fresh CRXs, flatland BMX displays, gullwinged drug lord-spec’d Mercs, pastel turbo Porsches, rally homologation specials, and everything else that can be turned into a green wire-frame CAD model.
Primary color windbreakers, Space Jam posters, and dozens of mullet wigs were trotted out in good innocuous fun, but to think this was all a big joke is a mistake. It’s not nearly as serious as the event that it derives its name from, but among the lurid displays of fanny packs and ‘80s bankster-on-vacation get-ups were some decidedly no-nonsense automobiles. Honestly, it’s the best kind of car show I can imagine: seriously cool cars, surrounded by a bunch of people who don’t take themselves seriously. I half-expected to only see people like me—grew up favoring imports, idolized the F40 instead of the 250 GTO, etc.—but the day proved otherwise, revealing not just the scale but the scope of people who find louvered rear windows beautiful. From husband and wife Hans and Ida in their very green, very OEM Audi 5000 S, to the 16-year-olds wearing their dad’s Bush-Reagan ’84 pullovers clustered around an NSX.
The fact that you could be talking to a father of five wearing a leather pants and a gold chain while looking into the back of a meticulous Range Rover sporting a picnic smorgasbord on its tailgate à la period-correct Town & Country full-page spreads? Where else can you find this moment? With all the pretense and pissing contests that surround so many car events, this was the ultimate refreshment. Second only to Zima.