Home » Time To Play Parking Lot Challenge!: Choose One Car From These Parking Lots To Drive Forever

Time To Play Parking Lot Challenge!: Choose One Car From These Parking Lots To Drive Forever


You know what’s a great way to spend the tail end of a Friday afternoon when most of your work-brain has already checked out and is sobbing in the break room of your mind, but you still have to sit in front of a computer, looking productive? Playing Parking Lot Challenge on The Autopian, of course, with all your fellow Autopians! It’s the best, so let’s get to it.

You know how to play, right? It’s easy: we have a picture of a parking lot, and from that lot you must choose one (1) car, and that car will be the only car you ever own, forever. High stakes stuff, motherjumpers. So choose wisely, and tell us in the comments, along with your justification and reasoning, because you will have to defend your choices.

This time we’re going to do three (III) parking lots, two from a Sainsbury’s location in the United Kingdom, because they have a fantastic photo archive of “car parks” (that’s crazy Brit for “parking lot”; in America, a “car park” is where you take your car to frolic off-leash with other cars) from Sainsbury’s stores of the years.

The third one will be a picture of a parking lot from the Los Angeles International Airport, just to mix it up a bit.

Okay, ready for the first one? Let’s do it – Here’s Number 1:

Some good stuff there! A Mini, some Fiats, Opels, holy crap, an NSU Prinz! What’s it gonna be from all these little fuel-sipping wonders?

Okay, Number 2:


How about this one? From the early ’90s, and we have a good mix of Volkswagens and Fords and Rovers and other stuff. Lots of options!

Okay last one, Number 3:

Okay, now let’s head to America, specifically, sun-baked LAX:

Some good stuff there, too! And, likely rust-free! Look at that Eclipse up there, and…is that a mud-spattered Volvo? What’s the story there?

Pick, explain, talk, argue, and so on. Let’s have some fun here.


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104 Responses

  1. Some caveman part of my brain always desires a bigass Dodge Ram dually with the Cummins. If you’re going to get a pickup, why not get the biggest one out there? I would like to think that one of them in photo 3 is a Cummins, 4×4, 6MT.

  2. Well, if you are going to have only one car, forever, you need to maximize utility and durability. It has to be able to do *everything* you need a car to do, and it needs to keep doing it forever without wearing out.
    With those criteria in mind, I choose the red Dodge dually pickup in the LAX picture. I’m crossing my fingers it is a diesel, but that’s a pretty good bet with those trucks. Maybe it is one of the small handful that has the G56 six speed manual? That would be sweet…

  3. Already have the Tahoe version, but I’d go with the tan/silver GMT-800 Suburban. Might not be as interesting as many other choices, but with a family of 6 that likes to tent camp, it makes sense. And it is cheap/easy to maintain, parts will be available forever too.

  4. I’d take the Benz wagons in the first two, because wagon. I guess give me the Tundra in the 3rd, it’s four doors and a shell to keep the bed dry. Probably wouldn’t sleep as good as my Disco does in the woods, but I’d learn to live with it.

  5. A Sainsbury’s car park in 1991 is pretty much the sweet spot in the centre of my car knowledge Venn diagram. I wanted to see how many of the cars in that photo so I annotated:

    1. Ford Escort Mk3
    2. Not sure, maybe a Triumph 2.5 PI Mk2?
    3. Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3
    4. Rover 800 (I think those wheels make it a Vanden Plas)
    5. Volvo 340
    6. VW Polo Mk2
    7. Renault 21
    8. Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2
    9. Austin Rover Metro
    10. Suzuki Swift
    11. Ford Granada Mk2 Estate
    12. Maybe a Ford Fiesta Mk2
    13. Vauxhall Astra Estate
    14. Metro (blue one)
    15. Mini
    16. Looks like it’s probably another Metro
    17. Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2 Hatchback
    18. Another Metro
    19. Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2 Saloon
    20. Bit of a guess, but I think it’s another Granada Mk2
    21. Mini
    22. Renault 9
    23. Ford Fiesta Mk1
    24. Hard to say with the shopping trolley in the way, but I reckon it’s another Swift
    25. Ford Fiesta Mk1?
    26. Ford Granada Mk3
    27. Ford Escort (maybe an XR3!)
    28. VW Golf Mk2 (white)
    29. Mini
    30. VW Golf Mk2
    31. I originally wrote down Nissan Sunny, but now I’m not convinced
    32. Mercedes E-Class Estate (the legendary W123)
    33. Another Metro – how the hell did they sell so many of those awful cars?
    34. Citroen AX
    35. Reliant Regal
    36. Peugeot 205
    37. Another Golf Mk2
    38. Another Mini
    39. Citroen BX
    40. I’m starting to clutch at pixels, but I think it’s a Ford Cortina
    41. Rover SD1

    Annotated photo: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mgxW2yfCEf2ILdlLtumoVy8a3ZrvsDnI/view

  6. 1977: Mk1 Golf, the Mini is tempting, but the Golf is a far more modern car and likely isn’t that much less good to drive, especially considering neither Mini is a particularly high trim and “sporty” model for the time. Avoid the HC Viva like the plague, and park as far away from it as possible lest it catch fire.

    1991: There’s a good few 1980s/early 90s executive cars, must have been taken in the late afternoon just as the middle management classes were getting out of work. I’d be tempted by the Rover P6, but it’s Honda-derived descendent, the 800, would be the much more livable car on a day-to-day basis. Not dealing with Leyland build quality when it’s my only car. Honourable mentions to the barely visible Ford Granada (maybe even a Granada Scorpio?), Vauxhall Senator/Carlton (basically a Holden), EF Civic, and the Renault 21. Interesting that all besides the Senator/Carlton were also sold stateside under various names, and all failed miserably besides the Honda and the P6.

    LAX: This picture bores me to death, maybe it’s familiarity kicking in. Tossup between the dirty Volvo 850, the extremely brown Nissan Cube, simply for the quirk factor, the Lexus CT on the third upper row next to the Jeep, or maybe the Aura XR, a surprisingly underrated warm sedan. I might punish myself with the Toerag, if it’s the V10, which it definitely isn’t, or either the Mk2 or Mk3 Discos, but I think I have too much self respect.

  7. 1977: Reddish BMW 2002, middle of the left row. Not a lot of power, but I got to drive my friend’s Dad’s 2002 lo these many years ago and I still remember how cool it was.

    1991: Gotta go with that silver Jetta (or whatever it was called in the UK) in the front. I always admired those angular V-dubs while at the dealer buying parts for my Super Beetle. I probably could have bought one with what I spent at the parts counter.

    LAX: Meh, but if forced to choose I’d go with the orange CrossTrek (controversial choice, I know) or the early-mid 2000s Outback. What can I say, I like Scoobies. My DD is one of the very last manual trans Foresters.

  8. 1977: Cadet blue Triumph Herald on the right. One of my many Triumphs was a Herald. I hated a lot about it, but I know how to take it apart and keep it running so that’s a plus.

    1991: Meh.

    LAX: I am shocked by: the lack of diversity in that lot; the total number of Subarus, the almost complete absence of Priuii; zero rust-free pre-1980 vintage machines that make up what seems to be at least 10% of cars on any given SoCal highway at any give time. So, I’m gonna go with the Cube … because as somebody mentioned … the quirk factor.

  9. I love the concept but frankly if you’re using your phone most cars not out front look like paint samples. I can’t pick out what most of these cars are because as I zoom in all visibility is lost. Is that an Austin Healey 3000 or Tyne Daly in a pantsuit? Ooh is that a vintage Range Rover or Bea Arthur? For the Brits is that a Mazda Miata or a 90 year old Emma Peal?

  10. Pic 1: Well this is the hardest one to choose from. I’m not sure that *is* a W123 Mercedes wagon at top right, but if it were that’d be my pick. Failing that, I see what looks like a black on tan MkIII Cortina toward the back of the middle row. Depending on spec, that’d be the duck’s nuts. Failing that the Mk1 Golf has timeless appeal. Most of everything else rusted to flakes years ago, though I’m given to understand that little Mini was recently fitted with an ST150 drivetrain somewhere out in t’countryside.

    Pic 2: I’m very tempted to say “Rover 3500” as it’s already has a classic air to it by that stage, but having sat in one before I know the charm of it’d be short-lived. I’m on team W123 Estate again here.

    Pic 3: Well, assuming I have to drive it forever but my children eventually get to capitalize on it as part of my estate? 996 911, baby.

  11. Picture 1) The Triumph Dolomite is the easy choice, but I am morbidly attracted to the red Lancia Beta Berlina next to the Gold MK1. According to this, there were only 15 left in the UK in 2018, as they all vanished in a gentle puff of iron oxide: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/classic/uks-rarest-cars-1978-lancia-beta-2000-berlina-one-fewer-15-left/
    Therefore, if you are going to drive it forever, you may have to move to the Atacama desert, the driest place on Earth, and bring a few tonnes of anti-rust along with you.

    Picture 2) Has to be the Rover P6 and its Buick-derived 3.5L V8 on the middle-left. Those were serious getaway cars in its day if you could not steal a Jaguar Mk II, or you might get chased down by the police in one. Would need a British Racing Green paint job if I’m driving it forever, though…

    Picture 3) Torn between the Acura TL and the Porsche 996 in the top-middle-right, next to the Saturn LS. Love the TL and its paint job, but the tinted windows probably mean it’s been modified and likely ruined in some way. Betting the Porsche is in better shape, and praying the seals on the water-cooled engine have been replaced by now…

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