The ‘80s and ’90s were a unique time in the automotive industry—manufacturers weren’t afraid to push the envelope when it came to designing vehicles that were bold, stylish, and technologically advanced, even by today’s standards. With iconic machines like the Lamborghini Countach and the Bugatti EB110 coming to life during the time when cell phones, social media, and the internet didn’t exist, automotive enthusiasts look back affectionately at this period.
The RADwood world tour show celebrated the closing of 2018 by hosting their final show in Los Angeles, with over 300 cars in attendance. RADwood LA was held at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard, smack dab in the middle of the City of Angels.
Vintage-costumed onlookers celebrated the history of these automobiles, which thrust those who attended into a time capsule and transported them back to the most amazing ’80s and ’90s car show.
Catching a glimpse of a Vector W8 Twin Turbo in the public domain was a sight to see, as only 22 of these vehicles were produced.
As wild as its exterior appears, each of the scoops and vents are fully functional. The entire vehicle is made of a mixture of carbon fiber and Kevlar, making it both super light and incredibly rigid.
The W8 produced an impressive 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, courtesy of a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V8 sourced from General Motors.
The eccentric exterior was nothing in comparison to the interior and its overkill switch panel display.
Bisi Ezerioha of Bisimoto Racing brought out his ’88 Civic Wagon to the show with a completely new setup. The new turbocharged K-powered AWD platform uses a modified differential from a 2007 CRV diff and replaces the Civic’s SOHC D16Z6 engine that was pushing over 700 horsepower.
The 2.4-liter K24Z3 block and K24Z7 cylinder head package features 10.3:1 Traum pistons and receives boost from a 72mm Turbonetics billet turbo to deliver a four-digit horsepower number.
We caught a glimpse of this super-clean Saleen Spyder #304 with its all-original and mint-condition FloFit black and gray Recaro interior. This car is relatively rare, as there were only 708 Saleen Mustangs built in 1988, and out of those, 137 were convertibles and only 43 were sold in white.
Acura provided a collection of cars from its local private collection, including this 2001 Integra Type R. Sitting beside it was the original clay modeling of the design pulled from their design studio.
Rarely seen in public, this CL-X concept car was a radical sports coupe that the company never put into production.
The Integra Type R was recorded as the most successful car model in the history of the World Challenge Touring Car category, scoring numerous wins, poles, and championships. From 1993 to the current day, RealTime Racing has amassed 92 race victories (59 in Touring Car, 18 in GT, 12 in GTS, and 3 in TCR) on 26 different tracks (16 Permanent, 10 Temporary circuits) in nine different car models with these 14 drivers.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I geeked out a bit when I came face to face with the RealTime Racing Integra that took home the World Challenge championship in 1997 with Pierre Kleinubing behind the wheel. To this day, I still have the original Realtime Racing Comptech poster hanging on my office wall.
Years back, RealTime Racing owner Peter Cunningham mentioned his race-prepped vehicles started out as $25,000 street cars. The team went through a series of modifications including dropping $10,000 into R&D for the engine, with the final costs for their World Challenge vehicle calculated north of $75,000.
Here’s a funny story. Back in 2007—when I was still involved in the magazine industry working for Import Tuner—we collaborated with Skunk2 Racing to build an RSX for Acura North America. Long story short, we developed a 700-horsepower turbocharged road-race vehicle that was competing with other publications. We found loopholes in the competition rules and commissioned Pierre Kleinubing to drive our vehicle. Needless to say, our fellow competitors were pretty upset and a protest ensued. Ultimately, Kleinubing wasn’t allowed to drive, but the looks on their face when we suited up was a sight that I shall never forget!
Cue the Miami Vice soundtrack!
If I had to give away an award for the sleeper at this year’s event, this Ford LTD Crown Victoria definitely deserved it.
From the exterior, it might look like nothing more than a well maintained LTD LX but under the hood was where all the magic takes place. The original engine was replaced with a pushrod 5.0-liter engine sporting the GT40 heads and intake from the 1993 Cobra.
The factory suspension also received some love as this car is actually beat on as a competitor in various SCCA autocross events. Check out the Cobra brake rotors and calipers peeking out from under the wheels.
An obvious fan of Nissan and Liam Neeson decided to transform this Sentra into a tribute car to campaign in the 24 Hours of Lemons.
Was this a JDM-inspired Mustang? All indications say yes, with a set of fender flares and the Mishimoto oil cooler hanging off the front bumper.
We loved this tribute car as a homage to the original 1992 M3 E30 piloted by Armin Hahne and sponsored by Jägermeister Linder Motorsport DTM.
Remember when United Colors of Benetton used to be a thing?
I caught myself laughing out loud when I read a sign affixed to this ’84 Audi Coupe GT that read: “It’s not a Sirocco, not a DeLorean and not a Quattro”.
The owner invested a number of modifications including Euro bumpers, Kamei air dam, and 15×8-inch 949racing 6UL wheels. Engine modifications consist of a 2553cc VW Eurovan five-cylinder block with 10.0:1-compression pistons, a ported Audi 5000 head, 034-1C engine management, and E85 fuel.
CMS Motorsports and Restorations, of Northridge CA, specializes in high performance and exotic automotive repairs and restorations. This year, they brought out a number of high-end rides to the show.
Back in the ’80s, if you owned a Mercedes, you were stereotyped as a movie star, business mogul or a successful drug dealer. As a paying tribute, CMS decided to accessorize their ride with a classic “brick” cell phone and suitcase filled with stacks of cash.
Diggin’ this Mercedes Benz 560 SEC AMG Wide Body with 90s-era correct two-tone interior? Did you know that the original AMG 6.0 Hammer widebody LHD is recorded as 1 of 50 ever produced worldwide and can still fetch upwards of $250,000?
Gullwing doors were the hot ticket back in the ’80s. This CMS Motorsports Mercedes 500 SEC was modified by Styling Garage SGS, known back in Germany for transforming factory doors into custom Gullwings. The conversion was said to cost as much as the vehicle and so heavily involved modifications that only 75 of these Mercedes were ever converted.
The Consulier GTP mid-engine sports cars were dominant in the IMSA circuit over a span of six years, before being banned in 1991.
With a curb weight of 2,200 pounds, and powered by various engines including a 2.2-liter turbocharged platform, 5.7-liter LT1 V8, or a race-prepped 6.3-liter Lingenfelter V8, you can see why these rocket ships were so popular.
Wild wouldn’t even come close to describing this ’85 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale (road version). Between 1985 and 1986 Lancia built 200 street versions of the Delta S4, with less than 100 currently remaining in private collections.
The midship layout houses a 1.8-liter engine equipped with a twin-turbocharged configuration and two intercoolers, and developed 247 horsepower through a three-differential, four-wheel-drive system.
The Bugatti EB110 was manufactured in the early 1990s and used a 60-valve quad-turbocharged V12 engine that delivered over 560 horsepower and a top speed of 213mph.
Hot Dogs anyone?
We’re throwing a Hail Mary out there, and staking the claim that this 24 Hours of Lemons vehicle was originally a BMW.
If you remove the foil-wrapped bumpers, Hilborn-style hood scoop, faux Bentley grill, and swimming pool ladder, it kinda resembles a BMW 325….err… right?
What ’80s and ’90s car show would be complete without a DeLorean DMC-12 sighting? This one’s complete with a replica of Marty McFly’s tie-dye hat and hoverboard from the movie Back to the Future.
Barrett-Jackson brought out this unusual gullwing JDM Toyota Sera to the event. Limited to less than 16,000 production cars manufactured overseas, this Sera was one of the first vehicles to be produced and imported to the US.
We found out that the gullwing doors were an inspiration to McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray, who used the concept to design the F1’s door arrangement.
Another cool ’80s-era car was this ’85 Renault R5 Turbo 2 hatchback. This California car was purchased new by the prior owner out of Germany and has been garage-kept ever since. Keep an eye out for this ride selling at no reserve at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction in 2019.
How many times have you heard someone use the cliché “they just don’t build ’em like they used to”? Coming in at just under 18 feet long, this ’88 Cadillac Brougham named “Betty” was an original one-owner car that was kept in a climate-controlled garage.
Another rare vehicle that popped up at the event was this Ford Escort RS Cosworth. If you’re a fan of World Rally Championship, this “whale tail” German-bred machine needs no formal introduction.
Art Deco-era wood grain—otherwise known as Woody kits—were a big thing for Chrysler on their Town and Country vehicles. This ’83 Turbocharged Chrysler LeBaron convertible definitely brings back memories of my childhood!
Thumbs up to the owner of this Buick Grand National for keeping it in immaculate condition! On December 11, 1987, Buick built the final GN and shipped it off to Louisiana.
What do you do when you love your Dodge Daytona Shelby, but hate the lack of horsepower your factory 2.2-liter engine produces?
Naturally, you yank it out and squeeze a 6.1-liter Hemi engine under the hood!
Nothing screams the ’80s quite like this Dodge truck with street-style graphics.
We captured the owner of this Nissan Stanza in these ultra-tight jeans shorts. Yes, it’s embarrassing, but it used to be a thing! He mentioned his ride was cobbled together using a custom lift kit alongside a set of all-terrain tires.
You’d have to be a product of the ’80s and early ’90s to truly understand how popular mini trucks were back in the day.
Nissan, Toyota, Mazda, and Chevy Luvs were all the craze back then. This pickup was the perfect time capsule which encompassed the scissor hood, hydraulic bed, and velour interior, with a pager on the steering wheel for good measure.
Check out that collection of tapes. Definitely old school!
Although this particular Mercury Capri RS Turbo was in showroom condition, enthusiasts never gave the Capri respect and considered this model as the weirdest Fox-body Mustang. Do you agree?
Another unusual late ’80s to early ’90s model car was this BMW Z1. Unique to this model were the vertical sliding doors that dropped into the door sills.
Factor in that the doors, trunk, and hood were all made from plastic and painted with a flexible lacquer paint to resist chipping, and you can figure out why this was one of the oddball vehicles that never caught on. Only 8,000 were sold through its entire production cycle.
For a listing of upcoming tour schedules across the US and vehicle registration for future shows, go to RADwood.co and check out more details!