11 Raddest Rides of Radwood SoCal
Of all the eras and decades to come and go within the last hundred years, nostalgia for the ‘80s and ‘90s is at an all time high. It seems like half of what is on TV or in the movies are reboots or continuations of franchises from that time, and having a car from that period is a decidedly cool, or shall we say, rad. But why is this?
There’s something undeniably unique about that time. The cars were boxy, colors loud and designs unique. It’s easy to forget in today’s common-chassis, crossover-filled world that not that long ago, cars were allowed to be strange. Rolldown doors? Let’s try it. Race cars on the road? Why not?
It was the last gasp of a time when form came before function and fun came before sense and profits. That’s why shows like Radwood exist and why we love them so much. We recently went to the SoCal edition of the show and have for you our eleven favorites. Enjoy our picks of a time when boxy was beautiful.
1. One Special Koenig-Specials C62
In a show made to celebrate the once-mundane in the automotive world, something this wild, valuable and unique sticks out. One of only three in existence, the Koenig Specials C62 is a road-legal version of the Porsche 962 Group C race car. While it looks similar to and sits on the same chassis as its racing siblings, the entire body was remade to allow for it to drive with the rest of us.
It was also detuned a bit, to a mere 800hp, but that’s not really important. What matters is that this was the first race car of its type to be modified to drive on the road. Others have come after, like the Mercedes CLK GTR and McLaren F1, but this was the car that paved the way. It was something special to see it in person.
2. Period-Correct Suzuki Samurai
Radwood SoCal featured far more street cars than off-road vehicles, but the off-roaders that came went all out. This lowered Samurai perfectly encapsulates the ‘80s aesthetic, even down the license plate.
When you look inside, it gets even cooler, with speakers in the back and a period-correct Igloo cooler in the passenger seat (you can see it peeking through in the photo). Perfect down to the tiny details, like the 76 ball on the antenna, this car is exactly what makes Radwood such a fun show to see.
3. Doors-Rolled-Down BMW Z1
What everyone remembers, and immediately notices, about this car is its retractable doors. It’s an eye-catching feature, but it wasn’t the only innovation the Z1 valiantly attempted to bring to the mainstream. It also had removable body panels, so owners could essentially own two versions of the same car by taking off and putting on different colors.
Neither of these features worked as well as BMW had hoped, but at a car show, that doesn’t matter. Doors that roll down are cool. That’s that.
4. Five DeLoreans
If you’re having an ‘80s car show, having a DeLorean feels like a requirement, but five parked side-by-side? That’s a little more special. Obviously, the movie Back to the Future made it famous, but there is so much about this car that makes it a perfect encapsulation of ‘80s originality.
Gull-wing doors on a boxy sports car that came standard with louvers on the back? No wonder the filmmakers picked it as their futuristic time machine.
5. Off-Road Lexus
When they don’t make the car you want, make it yourself. Prior to 1996, Lexus didn’t make an SUV, so if you wanted to take your Lexus off-road, it needed to be a sedan. This rig oozes cool, and the classic TRD Off-Road livery is a nice touch.
6. Ferrari Testarossa That Will Be Home for Christmas
As the show took place in early December, there were a few cars sporting Christmas wreaths and other holiday paraphernalia, but this Ferrari was our favorite. The wreath fits the back above the engine perfectly.
It also helps that the Testarossa is one of the most iconic ‘80s cars out there. The owner even showed up wearing a Santa hat. If there is once car we could choose to come home for Christmas in, it might be this.
7. Wood-Sided Buick Regal Estate Wagon
Wood paneling: It’s gone, and it’s likely never coming back. That doesn’t keep us from admiring a classic example of the wood-sided family hauler. This one doesn’t have a third row seat for the kids, but there’s still plenty of room in the back for a mattress.
Also, hood ornaments are cool.
8. Banned Consulier GTP-LX
Much less known, but no less sporty, than the Testarossa is the Consulier GTP. This car was so successful as a racecar in IMSA during the ‘80s that it was eventually banned from competing in 1991.
This particular example is one of the LX luxury versions. It came with a host of upgrades for the everyday driver, including Recaro seats, leather upholstery, air conditioning, power windows and even a car phone. You may not have heard of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. There’s a reason this one is a registered historical vehicle.
9. Knight Rider Pontiac Firebird
The DeLorean didn’t have the ‘80s pop culture limelight all to itself at Radwood. It had to share space with a nearly-as-iconic car from TV: KITT from Knight Rider. The light across the front moved back and forth and it even made noises like in the show.
The owner wasn’t on hand to say whether or not this was an actual car from the show (you never know, being in Southern California), but either way, it made Radwood feel a whole lot more ‘80s by being there.
10. US Ski Team Subaru 4WD Wagon
During the ‘80s, the US Ski team was sponsored by the Subaru 4WD Wagon, and this example went the extra mile in sending us back to that time. Not only does it have the original livery, but it has skis on top and the owners even showed up in classic ‘80s ski gear. Well done.
11. Rare Renault 5 Turbo 2
While having an import in America isn’t that unique, having a French one is. There is a whole world of cars, from Citroen to Renault and Peugeot, that we never see here in the States. So to see an ‘80s mid-engine French hot hatch was something special, and we aren’t sure when we’ll next have the chance to experience a car like this on this side of the Atlantic.
Want more radness? There was an equally cool assortment of cars at Radwood SoCal last year.