Park my luxury car
“On a hot summer day, after getting in a high-end Lexus, I felt a sensation similar to peeing my pants. I looked down and noticed that the seat had little holes, blowing cool air up from below.” It was just another day for Ben Nesvig, who valet-parked cars in Minneapolis for over eight years.
Valets have probably driven more performance cars than any racing driver, and more luxury cars than any chauffeur or financier. They just don’t drive them very fast, or very far. But that’s what makes them interesting; when you take away pure performance, you’re left with the experiences that designers and marketers can actually control. If you’re in the luxe auto business, the guys at the valet stand could be your most important muses.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, they judge every car they park. Here’s a few of the things valets taught me about the way they size up the world’s flashest motors.
1. Sound is Power
Valets don’t get to experience the top speed of a Ferrari, but then again, neither do most Ferrari owners. Instead they go by the engine note. “I drive a Lexus LFA on a daily basis, ” says Allan Nuguid, head valet at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa. “It’s tuned by Yamaha and it’s got the best sound. Really mean. I also love Ferraris with custom exhausts, they’re just begging to be stepped on. It’s a little frustrating that we can’t. ”
Even the more discreet performance cars are expected to sing a special tune. “There’s a big difference between a Mercedes S550 and an AMG S63, ” explains Nuguid. “You know it’s a performance machine from the sound. Our hotel is about a mile from the main road. We can tell most of the models from the sound alone as they come up the driveway.”
Sound means theatrical performance as well. Dustin Acheson is a valet at San Diego’s Grand Del Mar, who talks fondly of parking the monstrous Bugatti Veyron. “When I started it up to drive around the fountain it was incredibly loud like a Formula One car. Everybody turned their heads. Even people sitting inside.”
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