The thrill of spotting street-parked classics


Author: Graeme HurstPublished:

Most of us have some nearby us and many of us deliberately go out of our way to see them whenever we're in the neighbourhood: street-parked classics.

And London's a great place for spotting them; ones that appear at random and others that are always in the same place, come rain or shine, acting as both a landmark and a treat for classic petrolheads to savour whenever they pass by.

A favourite of mine - mainly because there's something just cool about such a prestigious badge being left bumper to bumper in a string of moderns - is an Oscar India Aston V8 that lives in my ’hood.

I probably shouldn't say exactly where out of respect for the owner’s privacy, but let's just say 'Clapham area' (that's certainly what a well-known posh estate agent would call it).

Never mind the location: you certainly won't miss it if you pass through, the Aston's bright 'retail red' paintwork certainly makes it stand out against the brickwork of the Victorian semis and the blurr of some-sort-of-shade-of-silver grey moderns.

It's a car that I've seen parked there for the past nine years pretty much day in and day out. Of course, I've always meant to stop to try and find the owner and ask him about it. You know the obvious things: how long he's had it, why he likes it and - most importantly - why he's been brave enough to leave it street parked for so long.

But somehow that doesn't seem right. If I know all that then I can't enjoy imagining its history and where it's been etc. Quite simply, it would end the mystique of it all. Especially if the owner turns out to be some banker twit who only bought it to impress his mates.

Whatever the Aston's past, this aluminium-bodied beauty has stood up to nearly a decade of being parked outside remarkably well. The fact that it has a discreet 'Works Service' sticker in the corner of the windscreen may have a lot to do with it, of course. If not then whoever did the work should've come up with their own sticker to shout out their contact details: it was a quality job.

Another prestige regular on my commute - and an office favourite - is a copper-coloured rubber bumper Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow (below) parked close to C&SC Towers. Yup, a street-parked Roller. And one that gets used, too, because it's often on the other side of the road.

Again it’s always outside, whatever the weather, but by far the coolest time to see it was during last winter's big freeze when its Spirt of Ecstasy poked majestically through three inches of snow for a couple of weeks.

There's another (occasional) Crewe treat just half a mile away too: a rare Bentley T1 (below) in a shade of BRG. Strictly speaking it's not street parked but it's pretty close to being as its nose is often just off the kerb when it’s parked up at the local MoT station.

Not sure if it belongs to to the guv'nor or if it's a customer's car that's often in need of fettling (another case of mystique!) but it looks seriously classy against the period look of the somewhat scruffy MoT station's premises (below - spot the sign on the left!).

Somewhat more humble - and infinitely more farcical - is a Ford Cortina convertible (below) that's a regular on my cycle route through Southfields. I say farcical because it's a conversion of a poverty spec 1.6L which just begs the question why the owner couldn't stretch to a 2-litre or one of the range-topper V6s? Possibly the cost of the conversion wrecked his wallet, poor guy…

Then there's a dark blue Mk2 that's often outside our local GP surgery - hopefully it's regular presence means that it belongs to a classic-loving doctor and not some local Jag enthusiast who's at death's door.

Not everything I spot is as shiny as the one's I've mentioned as this slightly jaded, but wonderfully-period-in-Grampian Grey  MGB (below) attests.

It's an occasional feature in upmarket Chelsea and a treat among all the footballers' wives Bentleys and Range Rovers, but it's far from the scruffiest Abingdon product out there, mind: this seriously down-at-heel (but taxed) Midget close to work has to take that accolade.

Do you know of street-parked classics that you spot on a regular basis? Or just have a stack of pics of classics in the traffic on your mobile phone that you've racked up? Then let us know by contributing to the Spotted: classic cars on the road thread on the Classic & Sports Car forum.



Just beyond the park where I walk the dogs a very early 1960s Corvette used to park and the sight of it would draw me down to look ever time. I had plenty of time to analyse my interest: it was not a car I wanted to own but it was attractive because it was like my Corgi childhood toy brought to life. It really made me happy without exciting any desire to own it.



Excellent and nothing better than walking around London on a Sunday morning spotting classics.

D Curtis


I agree. There is nothing more inspring in the morning on the way to work that the treat of spotting a cheeky classic. Stationary or otherwise...


I liked the picture of the 15/6 - Must have been the BMW M5 of its day. My neighbour had a V6 SM which I admired, but have to admit I declined the request when he asked me to help him work on it!


There are quite a few blogs on this subject to find three favourites

Google 'San Francisco Street Sighting' or 'Mineapolis Street Sighting' where Jay and Colin find some remarkable classics, well beyond run of the mill 'stangs, Camaro's and Challengers, parked kerb side in the USA.

'psycho on tyres' is as happy in the car park, pit lane and trackside as kerbside in the UK so is a little less reliable on the subject of kerbside classics but he certainly has his moments.


Spotting cars arounds street used to be my past time favourite
especially in the school summer holidays,I still have my "Spotters
Guide" pocket books,those were the days when you could write down where what make of car and it`s registration number,I very
much doubt a similar spotters guide could be published in our modern age of Privacy Laws !


Spotting cars arounds street used to be my past time favourite
especially in the school summer holidays,I still have my "Spotters
Guide" pocket books,those were the days when you could write down where what make of car and it`s registration number,I very
much doubt a similar spotters guide could be published in our modern age of Privacy Laws !


I too love to see if there are any classics lurking around but I have found the best place to see them is not on the road but in London's myriad of underground car parks.

Owners rent spaces for their cherished cars mostly modern classics like the Maserati Quattroporte or Porsche 911 but occasionally you find a true classic tucked away in some dark corner of a dank garage.

On a recent trip I stayed with a well known hotel chain and the underground car park was full of classics, an AC Cobra, MGB GT, Aston Martin DB9 and finally what I think was a Fiat 500C in concourse condition.

it's become great sport to guess I am going to see parked in the underground car park at my next hotel.



I agree totally agree with this. I mean classic cars are different. There are lot of new cars today with a lot of new gadgets, new engine with awesome speed and a lot of new features and auto parts but none of these stuff can actually compare to the feeling when you see a classic car. For me, it is because I see these cars as history and high level of class. The feeling that can never be gained by this new cars.


Look at these cars, I could live in one of these, they are so mighty! You're right, there's a real thrill in spotting such cars on the road. I wonder if they don't have classic vehicles at Winnebago Motorhomes, I've been saving for a new RV acquisition, I know they didn't have RVs back in the past, but I'm a dreamer, maybe something comes up my way.

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