Many of us who lived life relatively long enough would agree that the 80s could arguably be the best era in modern history. It was the link that connected the transition of the computer age from what was primitive to what we now call modern-day technology. It was also during this time when we learned that waxing classic cars can turn one into a Karate champ. Remember the birth of the video “arcade” that you can actually take home? That Atari commercial that can still be playing in our heads back in the day when video games for kids were just the alternative to playing when it’s raining outside? And speaking of outside activities, it was also the birth of the BMX and the cool movie that celebrated it – RAD.
The 80s was also the era of the greatest music. The sounds of Disco have now been overshadowed, and Rock and Roll of the 70s now evolved to the synthesizer age of music like Axle F. The 70s hippie rockers that looked so – well, hippies, all of a sudden has been replaced by preppy clothed new rock stars. Pioneer KP500s blasting out loud from speakers with more tweeters than you’d ever need now playing songs of neo-artists like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. And who will ever forget the TV series Miami Vice that redefined coolness by white suits, pastel colored shirts and sockless espadrille sneakers?
Sadly however, the automotive era of the 80s did not live up to the decade’s radical vibe. Still recovering from the oil embargo of the 70s, it was the time when performance cars were not in many people’s vocabulary. Of course, there were a few cool cars that represented the 80s culture. The Countaches and Testarossas were its flagship vehicles and almost every other teenage boy one way or the other have had a poster of it in their bedrooms. But these super cars were more of the exceptions rather than the rule. Many of the 80s cars that were once fuel-efficient daily drivers were simply forgotten and just died the natural death.
But of course, cars get old. While the baby boomers, out of nostalgia would buy and restore muscle cars, the younger generation who were not alive yet to actually experience them, obviously cannot identify with it, therefore there is no sense of sentimental attachment. Cars of the 60s or 70s were not what they remember seeing at their high school or college parking lots. All of a sudden, a new generation of car guys and gals are starting to notice once again the vehicles they use to own when they were younger. As old used cars now transition to classic cars, law of supply and demand starts to kick in, and now there is a big market for the first time on cars of the 80s era. And because the 80s is undeniably a radical decade in so many aspects, the 80s vehicles are now called the Rad Era cars – yes, a moniker that can be traced back to that 80s BMX movie.
Enter Radwood. It started as a small gathering of 80s cars that nobody really cared about and still out of radar among the car aficionados. It was sort of like a parody to the famous Goodwood Festival of Speed, a celebration of the classic cars held annually in the United Kingdom. However, the little known Radwood Festival became a phenomenon. It created a big fan base of enthusiasts that own cars of the 80s (and 90s). With the skyrocketing prices of older classics, it is no longer realistic for an average incomed people to afford the cars that they cannot even identify with because they were “too old” for their generation anyway. And since many cars of the 80s are still very much affordable, (with the exceptions of the super cars of its day) younger car enthusiasts now could acquire the cars they once love so that they can reconnect back to their not so distant past, and be proud of owning them.
This year’s Radwood Festival held at the parking lot of Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, California went all out. Many came dressed up in the 80s colors, wearing Casio digital watches while carrying their big and cocky auto-reverse boom boxes playing Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule The World… while others prefer to listen to Phil Collins in their brand spankin’ new Sony Walkman. It was indeed a big 80s party.
The cars that showed up did not disappoint. Not 1, but 3 Lamborghini Countaches showed up, along with its contemporary Testarossas and Porsche 911s, and not so common cars like the ugly but super fast IMSA homologation Consuliers. There was a Bugatti EB110, as well as an American Vector, but the bulk of what drove in are the cars of the average folks that once dominated the streets back in the day. Toyotas and Volkswagens, lowrider pickups and neon graphic-laden mini-SUVs are all there. Out of nowhere, unmolested cars of the 80s that seem to have just rolled off from the showroom came in, along with a bunch of restored ones and those with clean period correct modifications. There were 80s woody cars with the infamous fake woods that nobody wants to own back then, and perhaps nobody still wants to own it now – well at least they are termite free. And where else will you find a car show where mortal enemies K.I.T.T. and K.A.R.R. sat side by side.
At the end of the day, it was a fun experience for everyone. And when a big man dressed up like Hulk Hogan is walking around with a Magnum P.I. look alike guy wearing short shorts, with Sonny Crocket and Rico Tubbs in their full Miami Vice gear strolling along with girls wearing aerobics “Let’s Get Physical” outfit, all of a sudden, it’s the 80s all over again. And after seeing a De Lorean with some cool futuristic Nikes and Hoverboard inside, you gotta slap yourself to be reminded that it’s just a dream that you were taken back in time. You are safe and sound in good old 1985. So, save the Clock Tower, and enjoy some photos Lumang Oto took at Radwood …. Happy Lumang Oto motoring!