Volkswagen Newsroom

Tips for getting your holiday tree home securely without damaging your vehicle

December 4, 2019

A time-honored tradition in millions of households this time of year is holiday tree buying. However, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, an estimated 20 million Americans who purchased a live holiday tree in the last three years failed to properly secure it to their vehicle.

Damage resulting from improperly loaded trees can lead to serious vehicle damage, including scratched paint, torn door seals and warped window frames, and dangerous road debris.

Whether you’re at a cut-your-own tree farm or a local tree lot, we want to make sure you are transporting your perfect holiday tree home securely without damaging your car. To help, follow our handy tips and tricks below.

  • Take measurements. Write down the measurements of the space where you plan to display your holiday tree at home, as well as the size of the roof area or back seat of the car you plan to transport it in. Keep in mind that holiday trees can be deceptively wide, and “you may underestimate how much room you actually have,” says Robert Gal, a Senior Manager of Performance and Accessories at Volkswagen. “You don’t want to get too ambitious with what your home allows.”
  • Dress appropriately. Handling a holiday tree can be difficult, uncomfortable and sticky, thanks to the tree’s scratchy and sappy pine needles. To protect your hands, it’s best to pack a pair of utility gloves. Also, be sure to check the weather before you leave to your neighborhood tree lot, especially if you are planning to transport on the roof of your vehicle.
  • Bring the right supplies. Regardless of whether you plan to haul the tree inside or outside of the vehicle, you should come prepared with the right equipment, including some dedicated ratcheting straps to secure the tree and prevent it from shifting in transit. If you plan to mount the tree to the roof of your car, you should ensure that you have crossbars or roof rails installed prior to your trip to help keep the tree in place. Bars can help protect your painted roof and sunroof from potential damage and rails will add additional support. Lightweight twine, often provided for free by tree lots, should not be used to secure the tree to the roof as twine wrapped through door jams or open windows can cause damage to the car’s window frames and water seals, and could obstruct the performance of the car’s side airbags.
  • Securely load your tree. Before you load the tree into or onto your vehicle, ask the tree lot to wrap the tree in netting as tightly as possible. If netting is unavailable, contain loose branches by wrapping the tree in an old blanket or tarp. Using ratcheting straps, tie the bundled tree to the crossbars or roof rails. “People will often secure the tree, but forget to secure the tarp, and when they drive off it flies off,” says Roger Chung, Manager, Accessories Development at Volkswagen. Always travel with the bottom of the tree trunk facing the front of the vehicle while transporting on the roof and within the cabin. Taking these precautions will keep features like the Panoramic Sunroof in the Volkswagen Atlas from becoming damaged and in working shape.
  • Adjust the interior to fit smaller trees. Large SUVs like the Atlas allow for its second and third row to be folded down to allow a smaller tree to sit flat, which should be holstered with straps tied to anchor points in the trunk to keep it securely in place. Before you leave the lot, give the tree a firm tug from various directions to make sure it is properly secured. If the tree budges, pull the ratcheting straps tighter.
  • Drive carefully and cautiously. Stay on local roads and avoid driving at high speeds. Watch out for large potholes and bumps in the road. Higher speeds can create significant airflow that can damage your holiday tree and challenge even the best tie-down methods. Avoid sudden and abrupt maneuvers, such as hard braking, and accelerating quickly.
  • Spot-check the vehicle. Check for tree sap and residue in and outside the car, and, if found, clean immediately. If found on the exterior, use bug and tar remover with a clean cloth to wash.

Volkswagen teams with The Conservation Fund to increase the Cherokee National Forest

November 26, 2019

From fresh drinking water and wildlife habitats, to helping fight climate change and providing natural resources, American forests play an essential role in our daily lives. To help protect forests in the United States from development and fragmentation, Volkswagen, through a sponsorship of The Conservation Fund, will donate $1.2 million to help increase the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee by roughly 1,500 acres and support other woodlands projects.

“We are excited about our partnership with Volkswagen and the opportunity to help advance their commitment to corporate leadership around sustainability,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “Volkswagen is taking real, measurable steps forward to help protect the environment, embrace sustainable business practices and support the communities in which they work.”

The goal is for the additional public lands, located near the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant, to be open to the public for recreational use and used to help protect the habitats of local animal populations, including the black bear and the endangered Indiana bat. The Conservation Fund is currently negotiating with private landowners to acquire the properties, which will be held until they can be transferred to the USDA Forest Service for long-term stewardship over the next few years.

“Our support of The Conservation Fund will help strengthen the environment and help us give back to a community where more than 3,800 of our colleagues live,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “This collaboration in our own backyard underscores our ‘Drive Bigger’ goal of pursuing ideas bigger than ourselves and then taking action. We feel a responsibility to show how a major automaker can credibly contribute to the greater good.”

Located on the outer edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, the Cherokee National Forest stretches the length of eastern Tennessee’s border. The forest’s acreage includes the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, several whitewater rivers and 12 designated wildernesses.

In addition to supporting land conservation, Volkswagen’s donation will go toward helping to preserve and protect natural resources in Tennessee, with The Conservation Fund developing a grant program of $200,000 to support the state’s environmental objectives and goals.  The Conservation Fund, will solicit grant requests of up to $50,000 from qualified nonprofits, schools and public agencies working in eastern Tennessee to help improve water quality, increase access to outdoor recreation and advance environmental education.

For more information and an application, visit to conservationfund.org.

70 years after first landing in America, Volkswagen holds a family reunion

November 22, 2019
Ben Pon and the first Beetle in America, 1949

The first time a Volkswagen Beetle came to America was nearly the last. A private importer, Ben Pon, thought the small, odd-looking cars that were popular in Europe in 1949 could find the same audience here. Early that year, Pon shipped two Beetles to the United States and tried to recruit dealers. By all accounts, the reception was a cold one; Pon sold both with no fanfare, and lore has it one had to cover his hotel bill.

But Pon had the right idea. The Beetle did catch on, as did the Bus, the Jetta, and on through the decades. To mark 70 years on American soil, Volkswagen held something of a family reunion for its models in Los Angeles this week – a rare gathering of classics from Volkswagen of America’s collection and the best of the modern era. Although seven decades of engineering and design advances have transformed the lineup, certain important traits shone through.

1949 Beetle / 1979 Super Beetle / 1998 New Beetle / 2019 Beetle Final Edition

While the Beetle evolved from the ones Ben Pon sold to the last 1979 Super Beetle, they were mostly remarkable for how little didn’t change. Power more than doubled – from 25 hp to 48 hp – and the later Beetle had more creature comforts, but the basics remained the same: an air-cooled engine driving the rear wheels, all designed for simplicity.

The revival of the New Beetle in 1998 was a huge historical moment, which brought the Beetle into the 21st century with modern safety features, engines and interiors. The 2019 Final Edition offered much of the original’s spirit in a package with 174 hp and up-to-date technology.

1967 Type 2 21-window Bus / 2019 Volkswagen Atlas

Volkswagen has always built stylish people movers; the first Type 2 Bus came to America in 1950, kicking off a five-decade run of Volkswagen vans. The rarest and most expensive variant of the classic Bus was the 21-Window “Samba” version, which has now become a sought-after collector’s item. The Volkswagen-owned copy in two-tone white-on-orange paint makes all of 53 hp.

Today, the Volkswagen Atlas people mover is available with 4Motion all-wheel-drive, the ability to tow up to 5,000 lbs. when properly equipped,2 and up to 17 cupholders. There’s even an available panoramic sunroof that gives modern families a taste of that 21-window feeling.

1984 Mk1 Rabbit GTI / 2019 Golf GTI

With 90 hp and a five-speed manual, the original Rabbit GTI created the “hot hatch” segment and offered affordable performance with everyday usability. That formula has been honed over 35 years into the current GTI – a compact, 228-hp (achieved with premium fuel) expression of driving enthusiasm that can still haul four people and their stuff in comfort.

1982 Mk1 Jetta / 2020 Jetta

Offered as a sedan alternative to the Golf/Rabbit, the first-generation Jetta mixed European design and engineering with fuel-efficient packaging. A 76-hp four-cylinder engine was linked to either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. The 2020 Jetta demonstrates just how far compact sedans have come – growing some 15 inches in length compared to its ancestor, with far greater performance and creature comforts, like an available 10-color interior LED lighting system.

1973 Squareback / 2019 Golf Alltrack / 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan

The Squareback wagons used components of the Beetle in a more family friendly shape, complete with storage under the hood and above the engine in back. The 65-hp version was among the first vehicles worldwide to have fuel injection. The 2019 Golf Alltrack was its direct modern descendant, offering the kind of wagon packaging that thousands of families over the decades embraced, along with 4Motion all-wheel drive. The 2020 Volkswagen Tiguan has proven itself a different kind of successor; with an optional third row1 and one of the largest interiors in its class, it too has been embraced as a Volkswagen that can transport multiple generations in style.

 

With Atlas Cross Sport R concept, Volkswagen races to the 2020 Baja 1000

November 21, 2019

More than 50 years ago, a loose band of hot-rodders decided to run their motorcycles – and eventually the first Volkswagen-based dune buggies — through hundreds of miles of Mexican desert, practically inventing the field of Baja desert racing. Today, Volkswagen revealed its homage to that history – the Atlas Cross Sport R – and its plan to go racing in the 2020 SCORE Baja 1000.

Built from a variety of Volkswagen and custom racing components, including a 480-hp, 2-liter turbo four-cylinder, the mid-engine Atlas Cross Sport R concept will be the first four-wheel-drive vehicle to compete in Baja’s Class 7 Open Production Unlimited.

Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale.

“Racing as a sport has historically been limited to a very privileged group,” said Saad Chehab, senior vice president of VW Brand Marketing. “However, Volkswagen virtually invented the people’s sport of Baja racing, and we’re excited to help keep the fun, youthful spirit of the competition alive by way of our Atlas Cross Sport R.”

Founded in 1967, the SCORE Baja 1000 ranks among the most dangerous races in the world. Designed for adventure seekers, the race stretches across 1,000 miles of sun-drenched, rock-strewn mountain roads, from Tijuana to La Paz, Mexico.

The long and dusty competition is open to any off-road enthusiasts who can pay the race entry fee and use an eligible car (trucks, motorbikes, and Beetles are all welcomed). The race has historically attracted a wide range of thrill-seekers, from everyday racers to Hollywood petrolheads.

Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt.

With a long history of Baja success, Volkswagen hopes to continue its run next year with recent U.S. rallycross champion and Volkswagen R brand ambassador Tanner Foust at the helm.

“I know what this combination of engine and drivetrain is capable of,” Foust said. “I’m really excited to see this bit of Beetle DNA live on in the Atlas Cross Sport R and am itching to get behind the wheel.”

Built with the assistance of Rhys Miller Racing, a detuned version of the Rallycross 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder will be used to power the race truck. Atlas Cross Sport R concept will feature an all-wheel-drive system and braking system similar to the Beetle R and Polo WRC cars.

The four-wheel independent suspension offers 24 inches of wheel travel, with Fox bypass and coil-over dampers to absorb the worst thumps the desert has to offer. The turbo truck’s body will take its cues from the Cross Sport with an added twist: designers from schools and colleges nationwide to participate in the design of the Atlas Cross Sport R concept’s race livery.

Stay tuned for more details on the 2020 competition and the Atlas Cross Sport R concept in early 2020.

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The Volkswagen ID. SPACE VIZZION concept previews a sleek electric crossover for America

November 20, 2019

For more than a decade, Volkswagen vehicles have been known worldwide for a variety of timeless designs built from a single common chassis. The MQB platform that forms the basic pieces of the Golf compact hatchback also underpins the seven-seat Volkswagen Atlas, and almost every other Volkswagen in between.

At the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, Volkswagen revealed another example of how it will take that same approach with electric vehicles, with the ID. SPACE VIZZION — a sleek concept crossover that previews a production electric vehicle coming to America.

Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Specifications may vary.

Almost exactly as long as the new Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, but about 10 inches lower at the roofline, the ID. SPACE VIZZION concept has a long, luxury-like visual profile while still looking rugged. While the design draws from all previous ID. concepts, the ID. SPACE VIZZION evolves the look while adding a few new features. The new light-up VW logo sits proudly at the front tip of the hood, flanked by slim white LED strips. All of the lights on the car switch on when the driver approaches; the headlights can be animated to look as if they’re opening and closing like eyes.

Overall, the ID. SPACE VIZZION has been designed to maximize its aerodynamics. Several new surfaces keep air moving smoothly, such as a horizontal slot between the headlights and an integrated spoiler-type panel above the tailgate. The 22-inch wheels have special designs to minimize airflow disruption. The doors have no handles; instead, touch-sensitive haptic pads illuminate as soon as the car’s driver approaches. The result: a 0.24 coefficient of drag, making it sleeker than most production vehicles.

Volkswagen ID. SPACE VIZZION concept EV
Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Specifications may vary.

Inside, the ID. SPACE VIZZION seats four in limousine-like comfort with a sizable center console; the production version will likely offer a more traditional back seat. Most of the driving information is shown on a head-up display rather than a traditional instrument panel, and next to the driver sits a 15.6-inch touchscreen. All seating surfaces and some trim use a new material known as AppleSkin™ — which uses the byproduct of apple-juice making to create a fabric that feels like leather without any animal content.

Behind the seats the concept has a 20.7 cubic feet luggage compartment, like many SUVs, with two electric skateboards stowed underneath the storage floor that can be used to get you to the destination a car can’t take you, like the beach at Venice, California.

While the ID. SPACE VIZZION looks laid back, it can hustle when needed. Power comes from a 275-hp electric motor driving the rear wheels, drawing from an 82-kWh battery. An additional 101-hp motor on the front axle can provide all-wheel-drive capability and a combined peak output of 335 hp. This 4MOTION version of the ID. SPACE VIZZION can hit 60 mph in 5 seconds, with a projected range under U.S. testing standards of up to 300 miles.

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Underneath all the design and technology, the ID. SPACE VIZZION relies on the same set of basic components as all other ID. concepts. Known as the modular electric toolkit, or MEB in its German acronym, Volkswagen expects the chassis to underpin about 20 million vehicles worldwide by 2029. That includes the upcoming production version of the ID. CROZZ concept and the production version of the ID. BUZZ concept revival of the Volkswagen Bus. After those two arrive, Americans may get a chance to sample a more spacious vision of an electric future.

Mentoring the next generation of auto workers

November 18, 2019

The United States faces a serious skills gap, especially in manufacturing and information technology, which has pushed employers to find new ways of recruiting, training and retaining highly skilled talent.

One solution: Paid apprenticeships, which combine classroom instruction with hands-on learning for skilled workers. Since 2010, the Volkswagen Group Academy’s Apprenticeship Program at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant has mentored, coached and trained nearly 100 apprentices. The Academy currently has more than 40 apprentices in three cohorts in the program and recently welcomed 16 new students.

Apprentices are paid during their apprenticeship, guided by mentors, earn an associate’s degree and are offered a conditional job offer at Volkswagen upon successful completion of the program. Through the program, they have access to skills-based classroom learning, hands-on instruction and on-the-job training on mechanical systems, electronics, automated systems, big data, and emerging technologies, such as programming and robotics.

In honor of National Apprenticeship Week, we asked Mikala Hughes, a current apprentice, and William Serne, a recent graduate of the program, to share about their experiences in the Academy’s apprenticeship program.

 

Mikala Hughes, a current apprentice who joined Volkswagen’s apprenticeship program in August 2019:

What made you want to join Volkswagen’s apprenticeship program?

Before I started the program, I was working in a job but didn’t see myself advancing any further, so I started looking for local opportunities in the Chattanooga area and stumbled across this apprenticeship. I’m from Flat Rock, Ala., so I moved to Chattanooga for the program.

With robotics growing as quickly as it is, I thought it would be a good field to go into because it can be in demand with jobs. I believe Robotics is going up from here and that working with robots can mean job security.

What are you hoping to gain through the apprenticeship?

Hands-on experience. I did not have any technical training or related experience prior to this program; I didn’t even take a shop class in high school. I’m currently in a machining class, and we’re working on a vise project, which is a required project for every class of apprentices. We work in groups of three and use each type of machine in the shop to construct a piece of steel into a vise that’s usable.

What are you looking forward to learning or experiencing the most?

I’m really looking forward to the on-the-job training when we get to go into the plant to work with and shadow the employees on the shop floor. I feel like that’s something special this program offers and can further enhance the classroom learning. There are some things that are hard to comprehend if you can’t see, touch or build it. I’m also looking forward to working with robots!

 

William Serne, a former apprentice and current equipment operator at Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant: 

What made you want to join Volkswagen’s apprenticeship program?

After earning my bachelor’s degree, I couldn’t find a job that I really enjoyed. I lived in Florida at the time and while visiting family in Chattanooga one weekend, they mentioned the Volkswagen apprenticeship program. It was a really good opportunity to learn technical skills in an industry that I could turn into a lasting career.

What were the most valuable skills and lessons you learned through the apprenticeship?

I would say robotics and programmable logic controllers. I use those at work every day.

I love working with robots the most. I was able to really invest in that and learn a lot during my time in the program. In my last semester, I worked on a project to replace a motor and a robot RV, a mechanical joint that allows the robot’s arm to bend. We took apart a robot, diagnosed the problem, replaced the faulty parts with new ones, and tested it to ensure it was good to be out on the production line.

Do you feel like the apprenticeship helped prepare you for your role after graduation?

Yes, what helped me the most was on-the-job training. Half of the program is on-the-job training, where you go to the plant and work side-by-side with people on the job. You spend all day learning and asking questions. That’s the biggest thing that prepared me for the job – experiencing what a day is like on the plant floor through guided immersion.

 

Volkswagen launches plant expansion to assemble electric vehicles in America

November 13, 2019

It’s been less than nine years since the first Passat rolled out of the then-new Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, Tenn. Since then, the factory has assembled hundreds of thousands of Passat vehicles and Atlas SUVs, and just last month began assembling its third model, the Atlas Cross Sport five-seater SUV.

Today, Volkswagen and government officials marked the start of the process that will end with the fourth new vehicle rolling out of Chattanooga – and the first long-range electric vehicle assembled by Volkswagen in North America.

Thanks to a factory expansion of about $800 million that’s expected to add about 1,000 jobs, Volkswagen plans to begin assembling the production version of the ID. CROZZ at the plant in 2022, based on its flexible modular electric toolkit platform also known as MEB.

ID. CROZZ

“This is a big, big moment for this company,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “Expanding local production sets the foundation for our sustainable growth in the U.S. Electric vehicles are the future of mobility and Volkswagen will build them for millions, not just millionaires.”

The expansion includes a 564,000-square-foot addition to the body shop. At completion, Volkswagen will produce internal combustion engines and battery-electric vehicles on the same assembly line, an efficient and unusual combination. In addition, Volkswagen will add a new 198,000-sq. ft. facility to assemble battery packs for electric vehicles.

This investment in Chattanooga is part of Volkswagen’s larger, global commitment to EVs. Earlier this year, the Volkswagen Group announced its plan to pledge approximately $33 billion through 2023 toward the development and production of EVs worldwide. Beyond a production version of the ID. CROZZ, Volkswagen has pledged to bring the ID. BUZZ to market in the United States, with plans for more electric models to come in the future. The initial version of the ID. CROZZ production car will be made in Germany before production moves to the United States.

“With Volkswagen’s expansion, Tennessee is on the cutting edge of the move to electric vehicles and our workforce is up to the challenge,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. “We look forward to a continued partnership with VW and the growth of advanced manufacturing in Chattanooga and beyond.”

For #ByeByeBeetle, a 700-hp tribute at SEMA

November 8, 2019
HPA’s custom-built HPA FTX700 Volkswagen Beetle at the 2019 SEMA show. Disclaimers: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety and other standards. Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Specifications may change.

A skeleton-head shifter, seven-speed DSG transmission and a matte Army green finish are hardly the features you’d associate with a beloved Volkswagen Beetle. But for Marcel Horn, the founder and president of a Canadian custom auto shop HPA Motorsports, it’s the perfect sinister flavor for his custom Beetle build.

“The Beetle can be a little cheeky, devilish critter,” said Horn, who debuted a custom Beetle at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in 1999. “That Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde, white angel-red devil on your shoulder personality—the Beetle has both qualities, and that’s what we wanted to convey with this tribute build.”

Introduced to America as the Type 1, Volkswagen has sold nearly five million Beetles in the United States, and a worldwide total of approximately 21.5 million cars. After roughly seven decades of production and three generations of designs, the company retired the iconic vehicle this past June.

When Horn and his team heard that the Beetle was coming to the end of its lifecycle, they knew they wanted to say goodbye in the best way they knew how: revealing a custom-built HPA FTX700 Volkswagen Beetle at the 2019 SEMA show.

“The entire essence of the SEMA show is personalization for the look of aesthetics and performance, and the Beetle is by far one of the most personalize-able vehicles on the planet,” said Horn.

Horn’s love for the Beetle dates to his parents: he was brought home from the hospital in a Volkswagen Type 3, and his daily commute to and from elementary school was in a 1976 Rabbit, which later became his first car.

“There isn’t a person we could walk up to in a restaurant or venue who hasn’t had a Beetle touch their life in some way,” said Horn. Instead of a normal college trajectory, Horn got his degree in mechanical engineering and business and took night classes while running HPA fulltime out of his garage. HPA has now been in business for nearly 30 years and prides themselves off their creative takes on classic cars, like the Beetle.

“In a day and age before the internet and smartphones, Volkswagen offered this inherent interchangeability,” Horn said. “The fact that you could change the attitude and styling because of the cross-platform interchangeability”

With a willing customer on deck, over the course of two years, the team worked on almost every part of a 2016 Beetle Dune. Swapping the car’s original engine for a fully built 3.2L 6-cylinder engine, HPA fitted a seven-speed transmission, mated to an all-wheel-drive drivetrain. The combination delivers 700 hp and 800 lb.-ft. of torque to this Beetle Dune’s custom 19” HRE RS105M monoblock wheels.

HPA’s custom-built HPA FTX700 Volkswagen Beetle at the 2019 SEMA show. Disclaimers: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety and other standards. Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Specifications may change.

“As you do anything with infatuated circumstances, you take a basic idea, and the complexity and the detail level in front of you grows,” said Horn. “With the exception of the bumpers, there is not a bolt, a nut, a shifted cable, a widget, an electronic control module, a wiring harness, a floorboard panel, tub suspension segment that has not been engineered, designed or built.”

Heading into SEMA this week, Horn is counting on two things to capture attendees’ attention with the vehicle: that those who understand the technicalities of the design will pause and indulge in the details, and that more general SEMA visitors will be lured over to the Beetle by its sinister stance. That combination has already landed this tuned Beetle on the shortlist of cars vying in SEMA’s Battle of the Builders award.

“It feels surreal for me as the owner and someone who has been such a passionate fan of the Beetle to have the opportunity at SEMA,” Horn said. “To be part of this is more than dreams are made of…I just hope we aid in leaving a memorable mark for the Beetle in everyone’s minds that walk through the show.”

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Four Volkswagen Chattanooga employees share spotlight in new campaign

November 7, 2019

Assembling the Atlas, Passat and upcoming Atlas Cross Sport in Chattanooga, Tenn., takes thousands of people working closely together. For the next several weeks, Volkswagen will highlight four of these employees in a new advertising campaign that demonstrates their passion for their work.

From engineering and paint to assembly and final inspection, each worker introduced in the series shares insight into their life and how dedicated they are to their role in the assembly process. “I take so much pride in what I do,” says Brittany, one of the Paint Finesse team members who give final inspections to vehicle finishes. “I’ve been trained to notice things that most human eyes don’t see.”

Take a look at how Ben, a mechanical engineer, uses his passion as an amateur racer to bring quality to life every day at Chattanooga, and stay tuned for more stories over the next few weeks.

Radical rides of the ‘80s and ‘90s get their own moment at Radwood

November 4, 2019
Radwood Detroit 2019.

It may be 2019, but the ‘90s are slowly returning to the spotlight. Choker necklaces, fanny packs and neon jackets are now ubiquitous at shopping malls. Similarly, 90s cars are getting another chance in the limelight, thanks in large part to Radwood.

Radwood, a car-centric festival that highlights the good, bad and rad cars, clothes and culture from the ’80s and ‘90s offers a wholly different feel than a traditional vintage car show. Attendees forego the blazer and button-down look for multicolor track jackets and flannel.

Co-founder Bradley Brownell in his “rad” period attire. (Photo provided by Bradley Brownell)

Launched in 2017, the event highlights an often ignored and underappreciated period of cars – and its popularity has struck a chord, especially Generation X enthusiasts.

“We decided that the cars that we grew up with – the cars that we were familiar with – were the ones we were most interested in because they were, frankly, what we owned. There was really nowhere for them to exist in the car show sphere,” says Bradley Brownell, one of the show’s co-founders. “They were excluded from general car culture.”

The scene at Radwood LA 2018. (Photo by Matt Brown)

Brownell and four other co-founders – all self-proclaimed enthusiasts and automotive podcast creators – began laying the groundwork for the first Radwood event in 2016. After minimal promotion on social media and through word of mouth, the first event was held in June 2017.

Inspired by a popular three-day motor racing event in the United Kingdom, Brownell and company embraced the music and culture of the era, encouraged spectators to show up in “rad” period attire and awarded prizes to best-dressed attendees. “Back then, we held the show for ourselves and our friends at a local park in San Francisco,” he said. “As luck would have it, 250 cars showed up. That’s when we knew we had something on our plate.”

Radwood Detroit 2019.

The co-founders host on average one car show a month in different cities across the country, including Austin, Boston and Detroit, with an average of 300 cars appearing per show. They held their first international show in the UK this past year.

So why did Brownell and his comrades want to spotlight these overlooked models? “The reason we love these cars,” Brownell explained, is that “they are advanced enough to be reliable and easy to drive, but simple enough that you can still work on them in your own garage.”

Radwood Detroit 2019.

 

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