Opinion: We Need More Niche Car Shows

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.

  • 285exp I am quite sure that it is a complete coincidence that they have announced a $7k price increase the same week that the current administration has passed legislation extending the $7k tax credit that was set to expire. Yep, not at all related.
  • Syke Is it possible to switch the pure EV drive on and off? Given the wonderful throttle response of an EV, I could see the desirability of this for a serious off-roader. Run straight ICE to get to your off-roading site, switch over the EV drive during the off-road section, then back to ICE for the road trip back home.
  • ToolGuy Historical Perspective Moment:• First-gen Bronco debuted in MY1966• OJ Simpson Bronco chase was in 1994• 1966 to 1994 = 28 years• 1994 to now = 28 yearsFeel old yet?
  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/PowerSearch.do?action=noform&path=1&year1=2022&year2=2022&make=Jeep&baseModel=Wrangler&srchtyp=ymm&pageno=1&rowLimit=50Annual fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.
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