Opinion: We Need More Niche Car Shows

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
opinion we need more niche car shows

This past weekend, I braved the 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.

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.

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.

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.

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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  • Oldskooltoy Oldskooltoy on Sep 04, 2021

    Caffeine and Octane show is this weekend here in Jacksonville FL Last month, they featured British made vehicles. This month vehicle highlight- Toyota Supra & Chevy SS ( Super Sport ) Sounds like an interesting combo! I own a few MR2s and I usually drive one to this monthly show. It warms my heart when the car gets attention from the younger crowd. ( I usually stand away from the car, but close enough to hear comments)

  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Sep 06, 2021

    I too get a bigger kicke out of seeing survivors. Sedans, station wagons, base models of 'unloved' our 'unappreciated' vehicles. The 'classic' muscle cars and exotics are not representative of what we drove, rode in our saw. Type III and Type IV, VW's are vehicles rarely seen or mentioned. The big brown Ford sedans that dominated suburbs in the late 60's to mid 70's. Country Squires. Mid-range Chevs, without v8 engines. Mid and late 1960 Pontiac sedans. Cordobas. Those are among the vehicles that I fee nostalgia for, yet rarely see or hear about.

  • Wolfwagen I would rather have an annual inspection that may catch something early or at least the driver can be informed of an impending issue. Government vs private is another issue and unscrupulous mechanics is another.On a slightly different topic is the inspection of salvage or rebuilt cars. In NYS it is strictly to ensure that stolen parts were not used to rebuild the vehicle. I would rather see an inspection to ensure that the vehicle has been properly put back together.
  • PeterPuck For years, Ford has simply reworked existing designs originating from Europe and Japanese manufacturers, not being capable of designing a decent car in the USA.What’s the last clean sheet design from the USA? The 1986 Taurus?And they still can’t manage to get things right.why is this? Are they putting all of the competent engineers and designers on the F150? Is woke diversification affecting them, as some rumours suggest? Are they rewarding incompetence?
  • Brandon What is a "city crossover"?
  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).