Two weeks ago the City of Brotherly Love took a jump to the left, step to the right, and then fell right through a time warp. Just a stone’s throw away from Gritty’s icy lair in the Wells Fargo Center, the Philadelphia Navy Yard was the site for the inaugural East Coast Radwood car show, an event teeming with the sights and sounds of the 80s and 90s.
Radwood started in LA and is a celebration of all things from 1980-1999 with a little more focus on how people got around in those days. It could be said that this era laid the groundwork for all the things we can’t seem to live without now. From the internet, cell phones, video games, and, on a more personal note, metal music, it was a true coming of age in terms of technology. While we did see a large growth in safety, economical, and performance technology in those decades, the auto industry was still in the era before complex sensors and electronics. These days, it feels like you’re driving the ECU rather than the car itself. Radwood brings us back to a time of connecting florescently clad man and boxy machine.
The diversity of this event was unparalleled. The 80s and 90s saw a boom in imported cars here in the States. The typical American muscle presence was still obvious, but we saw much more. Think about it, when was the last time you’ve been to a show that within twenty feet you were able to see a turbo Dodge Caravan, a pre-production prototype DeLorean, and a conspicuously teal Porsche 911? Not many other places come to mind other than Radwood. We saw the best, and in some cases the worst, of what 1980-1999 had to offer, from Ferrari’s poster boy of the 80s, the Testarossa, to the Yugo bumping elbows with a homologated Audi Quattro rally car.
It isn’t just how varied the event is and how many people attend that makes Radwood unique. It’s each owner’s take on their car. My first realization of this came after making my way into the show, when I was first greeted by a pack of MK.II and MK.III Volkswagens that were mostly slammed and VR6 swapped. Opposing them was a flock of mostly untouched third generation Supras. Bone stock or completely built, each car had some personal flair from their owner to help it stand out against the test of time. From a pair of SW20s that were #cooledbymishimoto to the 300ZX putting on its best Mad Max impersonation, each machine had their own way of making a statement in 2018.
As the day winded down the sound of the Beastie Boys was overtaken by the burble and pop of the still air-cooled and early fuel-injected engines. As much as it was a treat to be in the presence of these time capsules, the true delight was to see these old-timers in motion on their way home. I think it’s safe to say that the East coast is already looking forward to falling through that time warp again next year.
Words can only do so much when it comes to these cars. Make sure to check out our full photo gallery of Radwood Philly.
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