1980s and 1990s car culture is big right now, and if you want proof, then just witness the kind of cars that turned up at Bicester Heritage this past weekend for the UK return of the RADwood show.
RADwood celebrates all that’s great and good about both ‘80s and ‘90s cars, and the music and culture that surrounds them – and just as the Goodwood Revival invites visitors to return to the golden age of motor racing, RADwood is an opportunity to indulge in the era of fizzy cassette tapes, shell suits, shoulder pads, big hair and perhaps most importantly of all… splash graphics.
And while he didn’t have the big hair and his car wasn’t plastered in teal and hot pink swooshes, it was Eddie Rattley who came away with the prize for “Raddest car” in the show and shine competition thanks to his spectacularly period-correct 1985 Nissan EXA Convertible.
If you were there, you’ll have spotted it almost immediately, with its wedge-nosed front, pop-up headlights, diamond-cut three-spoke wheels and glorious maroon cloth interior. Despite some stiff competition – as indicated by the quality of the entrants that won in other categories – the EXA was an obvious choice.
“I was elated when it was announced that Radwood was happening, as although cars from the 80s and 90s are clearly growing in popularity at an incredible rate, there hasn’t really been an event specifically for them until now” said Rattley. “I’m stoked that other people think the EXA is as rad as I do, although I never expected it to be taking home any awards, let along a Raddest in Show one!”
Rattley’s EXA – believed the only one in the UK – also won the award for overall best 1980s car – and if you recognise the name, Rattley was the many who just a few weeks back had brought along a brilliant little Daihatsu Fellow Max kei car to Festival of the Unexceptional. Clearly, this is a collection we need to investigate in more detail…
Other category winners included a truly stunning Mk2 Honda Civic as the best 1980s hatch, a 911 Targa in 1980s sports, and a spectacularly clean Audi 90 as the top 1980s saloon/estate.
Of the 1990s cars, the best hatch was Alex Grant’s daily-driven Volkswagen Polo G40 – a car he’s used his entire driving life – while a stunning BMW 840Ci won the sports category, a Volvo 940 Estate the best saloon/estate, and an ST205 Celica GT-Four as best overall in the 1990s category.
Worth mentioning two other victors too: The first, a Vauxhall Nova that looked straight from the pages of Max Power circa-1997 (albeit a lot more tasteful than most), which ended up as the Juniors’ choice. The other, Edward Wilson, who won the prize for best-dressed – impressive, given how many people had turned up like a kind of ‘80s or ‘90s fever dream.
It wasn’t all about the show and shine though, as more than 500 cars (and a great deal more people) turned up to enjoy the show. As is the case at the Festival of the Unexceptional, some of the best metal is to be found outside those seeking prizes, and there was plenty to see out on the airfield at Bicester too.
Lots going on in one of the hangars as well, as Hagerty had laid on arcade machines, food, DJ Andy Bush playing a selection of period-correct tunes, and some BMX and skating pros on a half-pipe for entertainment – while outside, a graffiti artist painted an amazing Outrun-style mural.
If there’s one thing we learned though, it’s just how much people love 1980s and 1990s cars – and how obsession for the “rad” era is only going to get bigger. Keep your eyes open then, because RADwood UK will definitely be back.