We Need More Niche Car Shows


Tim Healey/TTAC

This past weekend, I braved oppressive heat and attended Radwood Chicago.

For those that don’t know, Radwood is a car show that focuses on vehicles from the ’80s and ’90s.

It also apparently has a lifestyle component, as some folks attended in period-correct dress, and a cover band belted out ’80s and ’90s tunes. When the band took a break, the music didn’t, as studio recordings of hits from the era played over the loudspeakers.

(A note on disclosures: Radwood did NOT provide me or TTAC with any considerations — I decided to attend on my own dime. I wasn’t even sure I’d write a post on it. Now that I have, maybe my bosses will let me expense my attendance…Ahem. Also, I found out that I know at least two folks who showed cars at the event.)

This won’t be your usual car-show story. It’s not a write-up of who won awards — I only remember a clean Ford Taurus SHO taking Best Domestic and a Chrysler Cordoba winning the whole thing.

Tim Healey/TTAC

No, my argument here is that we need more shows that follow in the footsteps of Radwood and tap into a niche that doesn’t get as much love.

I am not saying I don’t love car shows that include the same old muscle cars and chromed sedans the Boomers grew up with or shows that round up really old iron like a Model T. Those shows are great, too, and I hope younger generations keep those cars show-worthy.

Tim Healey/TTAC

That said, how many cars did I see at Radwood that would also show up at, say, Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals? Not many. Maybe one or two.

The range here included a Buick Riveria, several RHD Nissan Skylines, a Mitsubishi 3000GT, an old-school Toyota Supra, one or two Acura NSXs, a stock Honda Prelude, a Chevrolet Celebrity — if it was built in the 1980s or 1990s and driveable, apparently you could show it. Regardless of condition or aftermarket modifications.

Tim Healey/TTAC

That was the other cool thing about the show — the bar for entry seemed low. As far as I can tell, with one exception — a curated event upcoming in Greenwich, Connecticut (where else?) — if you have a car from the ’80s or ’90s, you can show it. I’d love to see that ease of entry at more shows, too.

But regardless of whether a show has a low bar for entry or a high one, it’s interesting to see a new niche explored.

Tim Healey/TTAC

So for Radwood, it’s all about the Eighties and Nineties — Fox bodies and Nissan Zs and Japanese sports coupes and Jeeps. Maybe the next show could revolve around cars from the Aughts? Or even mine some rare gems from the otherwise malaise 1970s?

The categories and eras don’t matter — I am just glad to see a car show that went beyond chrome and Corvettes.

The more car shows that cover more genres and/or eras, the better, I say.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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