‘Carparazzi’ love Arab hotwheels

A convoy of luxury motors from the GCC has arrived for London’s post-Ramadan ‘supercar season’, with the high-octane roar of Ferrari and Lamborghini motors heard echoing through the streets of upmarket areas like Knightsbridge.
A luxury vehicle in London’s Knightsbridge area. Stephen Lock for the National
A luxury vehicle in London’s Knightsbridge area. Stephen Lock for the National

Ben Flanagan

LONDON // Camera-toting supercar fans are flocking to London to catch a glimpse of their dream high-octane vehicle – many with GCC licence plates.

Crowds of car enthusiasts, calling themselves the “carparazzi”, can be seen photographing vehicles such as a Pagani Huayra, worth at least US$1.5 million (Dh5.7m), and a Porsche 918 Spyder, with UAE, Qatar or Saudi Arabian plates.

A convoy of high-end cars has arrived for the British capital’s post-Ramadan supercar season, with the roar of Ferraris and Lamborghinis echoing through the streets of upmarket areas such as Knightsbridge.

Gurpreet Mann, 21, from south-east London, was seen photographing a Pagani Huayra parked outside the Park Tower Knightsbridge hotel. Mr Mann, who helps to run an Instagram page dedicated to supercars, said the vehicles were a big attraction.

“Even people who aren’t interested in cars go, ‘oh wow’,” he said.

Fellow car-spotter Laurens Den Butter, 42, had flown to London for the day as a birthday treat for his 15-year-old son, specifically to spot supercars.

Mr Den Butter, visiting from the Netherlands, said the loud noise the cars make, a major gripe with residents, was not an issue for him. “The louder the better.”

Another issue for people living in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea – home to the swanky Knightsbridge district and the Harrods department store – is illegal parking by the car owners, who often seem to ignore fines.

Mr Mann said he had seen high-end cars with GCC plates with parking tickets stuck on them but did not “think it’s such a big issue”. “But I’m sort of biased, because I’m a fan,” he said.

Many supercar owners do, of course, respect the law. The 30-year-old driver of a bright yellow Ferrari with Saudi number plates, said he always parked legally and stuck to the speed limit, except when he takes his car to the race track. “It’s each to their own if someone wants to follow the law,” the driver said.

As a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG with Qatari plates pulled up near to where Mr Den Butter and his son were taking pictures, drawing further crowds of car aficionados, only one person seemed to notice that the car was stopped on double yellow lines, where parking is prohibited.

“You might get a ticket if you park there,” the doorman of a nearby building warned the driver.

Some residents have renewed complaints to the local authority about the influx of supercars.

“Racing around Knightsbridge until 3am has again become a feature of daily life,” said a resident, who did not wish to be named. “The night-time racing and noise is a real problem.”

Phil Smith, 53, a taxi driver from Wimbledon in south-west London, said he had seen many Lamborghinis and Ferraris in the area this year.

“The noise is awful. I would feel embarrassed driving one of those – they are too ostentatious,” he said.

But Simon Rodgers, 37, who was admiring a Dubai-registered white-and-silver Rolls-Royce with his son Evan, 8, said the drivers of high-end cars often splashed their cash while in the city. “I dare say [the drivers] are putting a fair bit of money into the economy,” Mr Rodgers said. “That car costs £330,000.”


Published: July 24, 2015 04:00 AM


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