One of my favourite scenes in Beverly Hills Cop, is when Axel Foley rolls up at the Harrow Club in his battered Chevy Nova. You know, when he interrupts Victor Maitland’s lunch.
“Can you put this in a good spot,” Foley requests, as he’s greeted by the valet parking driver, “All this s–t happened the last time I parked here.”
The subject of driving a PetrolBloggy car to something fancy came up in Jonny Smith’s interview with Chris Harris. “I quite like turning up to fancy places in cars like this,” said Harris, referring to his BMW 525i with an M5 engine.
Jonny Smith agreed, and recalled the time he arrived at the Harrods Aviation terminal in his multicoloured W123 T. He tried unsuccessfully to describe the Merc’s various idiosyncrasies to the valet parking driver. Jonny parked it himself. Brilliant.
It’s one of life’s pleasures. The posher the place, the more battered the car needs to be. I recall rolling up at a car launch in the Cotswolds. I was spending the night in Elle Macpherson’s house. She wasn’t there. I guess she heard I was coming. Elle, if you’re reading this, call me.
I was greeted at the gate by a man who looked suspiciously like the valet parking driver in Beverly Hills Cop. Is there a farm where they breed valet parking drivers?
The proper motoring journos arrived in press cars. I rolled up in my Mk2 Honda Accord like Axel Foley in a Chevy Nova. “Is that a banana in your tailpipe, or are you just pleased to see me?” is something Elle would have asked. Probably.
Anyway, although mechanically good and with an interior as fresh as the day it was built, the bodywork was turning Japanese. Rust on the roof, doors, boot lid, rear arches – just about everywhere. Oh, and the sunroof leaked. Aside from that, it was mint.
The valet parking guy took the keys from my hand like he was holding a dead rat by its tail. He stopped short of directing me to the tradesman’s entrance. I doubt anyone in this posh part of the Cotswolds had ever seen such a tired and weather-beaten old relic. And as for the Accord…
It’s one of things I miss out about my time doing car launches. Parking in the executive car park at Farnborough Airport in my Citroën ZX 16v. Using the Audi A4 for a launch at posh country club. Arriving at a five-star hotel in my £420 Saab 9000i. God, I miss that car. One to file under ‘I’m an idiot’.
That said, I don’t miss the time I drove to Stratford, East London in the ZX. Eight hours in the car for an hour behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Adam. The things you do when you’re an aspiring motoring writer.
Valet parking in what the Americans would call a beater car is something you need to do in 2021. The car should cost you no more than £500, which is probably less than the price of a lunch at the Harrow Club. Still want that Lobster Thermidor?