Car hunting in London

DSC_0485In the oil age we live in, it’s a common belief that most of the world’s supercar stock sits somewhere between Dubai and about Kuwait. But much to my surprise, certain districts in the city of London actually contain more exotic metal in a small radius as I’ve seen anywhere else.

DSC_0416This is an odd phenomenon because there is more against car ownership in central London than for it, let alone supercar ownership. For one, you’ll pay over ten pound in congestion charge as soon as you move anywhere. Assuming money is no issue, despite the charge the city is still in gridlock for as many hours as the sun is up. It’s an old city too which means almost nobody has a garage because cars didn’t exist when the houses were built, even the swanky ones, so on-street parking is the norm. And unlike in Australia, London has an excellent public transport system. With all the good roads so far away, why would you even bother taking a car into the city?

DSC_0390And yet here we are. In the Knightsbridge area there literally isn’t a street without some form of exotica lining its sides. In these parts V8 Vantage’s and Bentley’s are commonplace, and it takes something special to grab your attention.

DSC_0395Like, say, a Bristol Blenheim?

DSC_0433Or an original, non footballer-spec Bentley Continental?

DSC_0397The car that held my attention for the longest did so for all the wrong reasons. I’ve long been hoping to see one of these in the flesh for I have long labeled them the stupidest and most hilarious car ever built, however I’m not aware of any Australian’s daft enough to have made the purchase. In London I saw three, all within a block of each other.

DSC_0414Let’s start from the start. This is a Toyota iQ, a fantastic, smartly packaged inner city runabout. In England it works out to AUD$18,300 and comes fitted with a 1.3 and a CVT auto. A little pricey I think, but a good package nonetheless.

DSC_0432This is an Aston Martin Cygnet. It has the identical 1.3 CVT mechanical package but for bespoke Aston Martin wheels (in the same size as the iQ’s). It has slightly revised cosmetic bodywork, a higher quality paint job and a retrimmed interior, with “as much leather as you’ll find in a DB9”.  Oh, and it costs AUD$51,700. Given used car prices in the UK, for that money you could buy a new iQ and a used DB9.

DSC_0460It didn’t exactly take the skills of Bond to execute, but while the guards weren’t watching I found a way into an underground carpark in Knightsbridge. It was like stumbling into Narnia.

DSC_0446And it wasn’t just new machinery, either.

DSC_0448Yea, that’s a Diablo SV under there.

DSC_0450Argh! They’re breeding!

DSC_0459This was the picture that got me kicked out, but I still think it was worth it given the lighting and wet ground. Unfortunately I didn’t have a witty Bond one liner to say to the guard, so I just pretended not to speak English and left without a fuss.

DSC_0421England is famed for its poor weather, and you could see the marked difference in the condition of the street parked cars.

DSC_0423This 430 Spider looked a little unloved and had been out under the trees for a while in its tenants only parking space.

DSC_0468This 458 Italia had Dubai registration and wore its two-tone satin grey well, I thought.

DSC_0469Until I saw the bat sticker on the bonnet – I guess money doesn’t buy taste. And while I’m whining about a car I can’t afford (what’s new, right?), I think that red interior clashes with the body tone.

DSC_0492And just as I was becoming despondent about all these fantastic drivers cars parked on the street and stuck in traffic…

DSC_0491… I heard one owner exercising his V12 on an open toll road the way it was designed, and all was right with the world once more.

Words and photos by Andrew Coles

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  1. Robert June 26, 2013 Reply

    How good is London??!!!
    I appreciate what you're saying about the luxury cars all aligned in the fresh air, blew my mind - But on the weekends is where they come alive!
    "What are you doing on the weekend"?
    "Driving to Italy"!!
    Saw my first and last Veyron parked on Park Lane followed by a F430 up on the curb awaiting a tow!!
    Similar to your Dubai post, the dealerships are amazing... Corvette, BMW - They're all there!

    • Andrew Coles June 30, 2013 Reply

      I know... coming from Adelaide it's a different world.

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