I’ve seen all the Vintage Prep jokes and statuses online. Everyone working up to the last minute to get their classic BMWs ready for the trek down south. I honestly believe the same thing must happen for Radwood – at least it worked that way for us.
Radwood is a car event dedicated to highlighting the pure 80’s and 90’s automotive and fashion styling that has yet to be seen in modern day. There are different categories of tickets for the event: spectator, show car, and royalty – reserved for those extra special cars. The Radwood show is held across the country at various locations and times. We were lucky enough to go to the one scheduled with Hooptiecon in nearby New Jersey.
Originally planning to go to the Radwood Pennsylvania event scheduled for October, we figured we had enough time to leisurely prep the Volvo and get it in top notch shape. If you recall from a previous article, we imported the Volvo from Sweden via the Netherlands and had just gotten it home and parked. Keeping with our normal procedures (normal since the mishap of acquiring the unseen Mercedes), we gave the vehicle a once over and began our Google Keep list of projects to get it where it needed to be.
We slowly began working through them, tracking down parts to have shipped from the Netherlands, looking for compatible parts here in the States, and as parts began to arrive life got busy. Then last month we heard the Radwood Pennsylvania event, originally scheduled for October, got replaced with one in New Jersey. Our prep date got moved up by a few months – crunch time!
What was supposed to be a typical suspension refresh and upgrade turned into a much larger project than planned. Our first indication of this should have been when we removed the front springs and the driver’s side spring was about four coils taller than the stock spring on the passenger side. Someone had clearly been in there before mucking around. We chugged along and had everything replaced when our test drive revealed a bad knocking, squeal, and strong pull from the drivers side. We put the Volvo back on the stands and began to look at the issue.
The inner CV joint had a loud knock and play. We pulled the inner CV joint and in the process discovered that the boot is actually responsible for holding all the transmission fluid in the Renault-made gearbox! After catching all the transmission fluid that poured out, we discovered one of the bearings on the spider tripod joint had come off and was bouncing around inside the boot along with some needle bearings. The cap and c-clip which should have held the bearing in place was all still attached. We cannot explain how this could have happened and likely coincided with the “spring lift-kit” previously discovered. With two weeks until Radwood it didnt look like we would make it (not to mention the door cards project that was not going well). Shockingly we were able to find a replacement part on Amazon, since the Volvo shares the gearbox and axles with many 90’s Renaults like the Clio and Megane. The parts were installed, transmission fluid flushed, and filled. The test drive revealed we had fixed the problem, and aside from needing a driveway toe alignment we celebrated success.
Once the car was deemed roadworthy we refinished the door cards, cleaned and swapped out the entire interior, and fixed up everything on our “must do” list. All the minor nit pick issues would have to wait as we were running out the clock. We worked up until the late hours of Friday night before Radwood finishing up the Volvo, cleaned and polished the car, and then immediately hit the road tires still wet with shine just before 11pm for a two and half hour drive to our hotel near the show.
Royalty arrival was scheduled for 8am so we were up early in our 90’s finest – Hubby wore his Ace of Base shirt in honor of the Swedish roots of the Volvo, step-son in his Africa by Toto shirt, and I in my London grunge. Grabbed some ice for the beer cooler and made our way to the New Jersey Motorsports Park.
As we rolled up to the gate, the looks and ogling started. We were in a car most people had never seen but only heard of in whispers. Some didn’t even know it existed. The mythical Unicorn of the 80’s and 90’s car scene. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being the one with the car that everyone loves unless you’ve been there before. It’s like the neon glow of a secret club in an alley, hard to see in the daylight, but all the cool kids know its there.
The cars we passed and parked next to were of equal, enviable style. Pure classics of the 80’s and 90’s. Bedroom wall poster material in the flesh – BMWs, Audis, Lancia Delta Integrales, Mercedes, and Porsches; even some rare and interesting domestics like a Dodge Shelby Turbo.
We were directed by Art, CEO of Radwood, to a perfectly positioned spot amongst the other Radwood Royalty. Royalty was definitely the right word for it. Some of the most gorgeous cars of the era, and other unicorns as well were around us. We got out, wiped down the car, repacked a few things under the roller cover to give the Volvo a finished look. We popped the headlights (disconnecting the battery so the lights wouldn’t be on all day and we could drive it home) and took a look around
Then it started. The roar of engines in the distance, the crash bang of rapid gear shifts, and then the squealing of lemons rounded the curve. 24 Hours of Lemons had begun. We walked to the fence and watched the Lemons cars pass us by. Some very strange cars, some clearly sketchy cars, and some that just looked at home on the track. I’ve never been to a race and what initially started as worry for my poor ear drums turned to delight as I realized the roar and hum was somewhat hypnotic and soothing to my soul – later mixing with the 80s and 90’s hits from the DJ booth and blending into a perfect soundtrack for Radwood
Throughout the day the Volvo basked in the sun and all the attention it received. We were greeted by swaths of enthusiasts. “What kind of car is it?” “I’ve never seen one!” “It’s so rad.” “Is that what I think it is?”
Hubby was approached by Mike Spinelli to be interviewed for /Drive. Super flattered and trying hard to not to nerd out about all the YouTube videos he’s seen, he of course said “Yes, absolutely”. He handed me his beer and we walked over to get him mic’d and start the interview. I stood there, two beers in hand, grinning stupidly but super excited and proud for my husband (also equally nerding out). The interview went well, after the inital awkwardness of random questions and giggling, they shook hands and we returned to wander the show grounds and check out the other cars.
Around noon a breakdance competition began. In true era fashion, cardboard and checkered mats were laid down to give the b-boys the room and floor they needed to show off. And show off they did.
We walked over to HooptieCon, and wandered around to check out the pit lane, paddocks, and cars in various states of repair including a rare Volvo 262C Bertone getting something mig welded back together.
At 3pm the Radwood awards were announced. Not a ton of awards to be handed out but the winners of each were definitely my picks to win. We both felt the winners of each were well picked and perfectly suited to the awards they received. The crazy Citroen BX 4TC won the Raddest in Show and the Porsche Koenig won the Raddest Import. Each recipient was invited up to provide a brief story about their car
The Volvo was not a recipient of an official award, but it did receive special recognition during the award ceremony as the people’s choice (I’ll call it “Righteous Ride” to stick with the theme) as a special car worth the attention and buzz. Once the awards were over, we made the decision to head home, instead of staying for the parade laps around the track, as both we and the car were worn out from suffering the full blast of sun and attention all day. For the full album to include video of the Lemons Race and Breakdance Competition check it out here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/wL3FxoB2a5cC6ewH7