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RADwood LA 2018

I know I’m exaggerating, but RADwood LA is probably the best car event that I’ve attended. I get to go to a fair amount of car shows and meet-ups around the southeast, and usually try to find something wherever I’m visiting, so I feel like I’ve seen my share of the spectrum of possibilities. RADwood gets two things very right, where it seems like most events have to choose one or the other. First, it’s a well curated event. When someone makes a point to go to a car show, there needs to be cool cars that are worth the time and effort to see. Of course, that sounds like an easy task, but it ultimately means telling people “no” that don’t meet the quality expectations or the spirit of the event. RADwood’s success on this end has probably stemmed from having an older clientele, and a well-defined niche. Any vehicle from the 80s-90s can enter, with the only exceptions being older vehicles that are modified in a period-correct (Rad era) fashion. A substantial entry fee makes sure that only the serious need apply. The result is diverse group of cars and trucks that fits within a well-defined box. Attendees get to see exactly what they hoped for.

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The second thing that RADwood did really well is making itself a genuinely fun event. In my experience, the more curated an event is, the more serious it becomes. I think the worst offenders of this are the show-car style events with organized competitive judging. You’ll always get attendees complaining that they didn’t win, or that someone else did, or that x judge didn’t appreciate his car the way that it should have been appreciated. Granted, that’s not my scene, so I won’t bash it, but seeing all of that go down sucks the fun right out of the day. From my view, RADwood was democratic. Folks were excited about the period-correct supercars, but everyone that I met or talked to had their own personal favorite average car that I had to check out. Additionally, attendees were encouraged to dress-up in 80s or 90s style for the show, and a large number brought rad-era accessories such as cameras, camcorders, phones, etc that allowed everyone to play along, even if they didn’t have a car to bring to the show.

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Ultimately, I think RADwood comes off as a Cars and Coffee style event, but with premium features. With the popularity of Bring-a-Trailer, Doug Demuro type review channels, car-spotting pages, and on a much smaller scale, us, there’s an emergent sub-section of auto enthusiasts that aren’t necessarily tied to one style of modification, or one brand, or this idea of competitive one-upmanship that has pervaded most other segments. While no less obsessive, I believe that it is more about collecting experiences and appreciating the minutiae of car culture in general. While "anyone” can buy and modify a car to their own liking with enough money, no one cannot buy their way into seeing a mint Peugot 405 with matching period-correct bike in the wild. RADwood succeeds at making a collection of “wow-moments” accessible, and a whole lot of fun.

For the entire calendar of this year’s events, please visit their website, and enjoy our entire gallery below.

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