The thrill of spotting street-parked classics

| 12 Jul 2011

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.