It’s totally RADwood as the ’80s and ’90s take over Bicester Heritage

by Nik Berg
4 September 2023 2 min read
It’s totally RADwood as the ’80s and ’90s take over Bicester Heritage
Nick Chivers

As the late summer sun reflected off its stainless steel bodywork a power-suited professional strolled past the DMC-12 talking loudly into his giant brick of a portable phone. A youthful-in-spirit Elliott lookalike rode by on his BMX with ET on the handlebars, while all around the pastel hues of Miami Vice could be seen alongside slogan T-shirts, dayglo spandex, side strakes and spoilers. 

For on this one special day you didn’t need actually need a DeLorean to travel through time as RADwood arrived at Bicester Heritage near Oxford.

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This celebration of the automotive Eighties and Nineties is now in its second year in the UK, having originally been founded by American podcasters Art Cervantes and Warren Madsen to champion cars from 1980-1999. 

More than 600 cars of the RAD years and thousands of fans took over the former RAF base, most of them suitably attired for the time. A soundtrack by Absolute Radio DJ Andy Bush ensured that the tunes were just as topical.

Every kind of classic from the Eighties and Nineties was represented, with 50 cars entered into a Show & Shine judged by Charlotte Vowden and Hannah Gordon from TV’s Repair Lot, and YouTuber Chris Pollitt. Their picks included a Mercedes W124 Estate, an Audi UR Quattro and a Nissan 300ZX, with the Raddest in Show award going to the brilliantly-white VW Scirocco of mechanic Katie Bushell.


Over in the main hanger there was even more at stake as the 2023 Hot Wheels Legends Tour saw ten of the country’s most imaginatively-modified cars compete for the chance to be turned into an actual Hot Wheels car. 

The line-up was indeed legendary, including such amazing machines as a Jaguar XJ with two straight-six engines bolted together to create a unique V12, an 800bp Transit with a DRS system, a former airport van turned dragster and Skoda Octavia Estate inspired by Japanese touring cars of the Nineties.

The judging panel of Paul Cowland, TV host Abigail Andre, motorcycle racer Steve Parrish, podcaster Richard Porter and Hot Wheel’s Design Manager Craig Callum were spoilt for choice.

After talking in depth to each of the contestants and examining their incredibly creative cars it was Michael Wallhead and his MG B-EAST that the judges all agreed should go forward to the next round.

“Choosing a winner was no mean feat and each finalist has what it takes to represent the UK in the global finale,” explained Callum. “That said, Michael Wallhead’s MG perfectly encapsulates the three core elements we were looking for in our winner – authenticity, creativity and garage spirit. We loved the reuse of materials in new and exciting ways, such as the denim seat covers and temporary tattoos for graphics.”


Check back for an in-depth look at the MG B-EAST soon. And, if you’ve got an Eighties or Nineties car yourself then save a slot in your diary for RADwood 2024.

Mark Roper, Managing Director of Hagerty International, added, “Hagerty welcomes all car enthusiasts and RADwood UK looks set to follow our own Festival of the Unexceptional in becoming a must-attend show for UK enthusiasts. RADwood and FOTU will be back, bigger and better than ever, in 2024 and I can’t wait to see you there.”

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  • Martin Wright says:

    I attended Radwood, and whilst it was a great car show, I feel there were a lot of missed opportunities with vendors. I don’t understand why a Howheels Legend’s tour didn’t attract any Hotwheels vendors, especially as its sponsored by Smyths toys! They’d have made a killing! The selection of vendors in general was disappointing, I’d have thought there would have been many there, not just the few food sites and one selling (arguably very nice!) t-shirts, and another selling art. I went to Brands Hatch the following day and saw more stuff for sale there than at your venue. For the money I paid to get in, I do feel a little let down by what was there.

  • John says:

    I’m afraid at £27 entry for my car, I won’t be making a return visit. There wasn’t enough on to justify such a charge. FOTU is better value.

  • Richard says:

    RADWOOD 2023 was enjoyable as a car show, great selection of cars from the decades, nice relaxed atmosphere, nice addition with the Hot Wheels Legends
    However, I do feel there was so many missed opportunities for it to have been so much better. I really expected to find a large number of stalls offering a variety of period correct memorabilia & was shocked to discover that we couldn’t buy any Hot Wheels models, the latter was very disappointing. Would’ve been good to see more of the Hot Wheels Legends entrants cars spread out wider, felt like they were squashed in. Photo opportunity for yourself with a real life Hot Wheels car or even your own car photographed against a real life Hot Wheels back card. Maybe a live action area with BMX riders doing tricks
    Bring the decades to life with displays of of items from both decades, there’s been an 80’s exhibition touring the UK the past couple of years, great possible tie in
    To tie in with my normal school reports during these years…”good effort but could do better”

  • Cornish Rider says:

    Booked our tickets at the start of the year and were looking forward to our first visit. Coming from Cornwall we had to book an overnight stay. We arrived at 12:30, after having lunch there by 2:30pm we’d seen everything and left. Unless I was displaying a car there I don’t know what there would have been to do until 8:30pm. Disappointing that only a section of the airfield was open as it would have been great to see the other buildings and businesses. We’d excepted far more cars given the central location of the venue and the promotion of last years event. £27 entry was just about acceptable given there were two of us. Good job we combined it with a visit to the Gaydon else it would have been a very expensive trip for 2 hours. Maybe invite car clubs to exhibit eligible cars at a discounted rate? Will we visit next year, unlikely I’m afraid.

  • Greg Barton says:

    Attended and enjoyed Radwood, The atmosphere was nice and chilled with really good quality food and drink options.

    Like a few of the other comments, I was surprised that there were no merch or vendor stalls and although it says 600 cars – it has to be said the event felt a bit half full and having driven down from North Yorkshire we were filling the time in a bit from 2pm.

    The concept is fantastic, perhaps there could be a tie in with a local motorclub to run an autotest somewhere on the grass, get an autojumble and some clothing / merch stalls in and the event could really kick on.

  • mark smith says:

    My first visit and i expected to be able to have a look around the heritage part of the whole complex .As a ‘national event’ there could have been more cars to look over and I would not have been so happy if I had travelled many 100s of miles in an old car . weather helped for sure.
    I guess there’s so many local shows on the competition is very high . Please keep up the hard work

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