Great parallel parking

Parallel parking, when done by a skilled driver, can be a thing of beauty. Some time ago, I reproduced some instructions that I found on the internet that guarantees perfect parking every single time. I have followed those instructions and found that my success rate is much higher than it used to be, though not 100% since sometimes I have to pull out and start again.

But I have to humbly bow before the expert in the video below who squeezes into a space that I would not have even dreamt of trying to get into.

This took place in France. I think the old cities of Europe tend to have narrow streets and very limited parking so people have to learn this skill whereas in the US I know several drivers who cannot do it and still get by.

But for those who like to do it with spectacular flair, see the person who set the world parallel parking record. (Yes, there apparently is such a thing.) Kids, don’t try to copy this!

The other extreme can be seen with this person trying and failing to park in a space large enough to fit an aircraft carrier. It is excruciating to watch.


  1. Ridana says

    I pulled off a parking job like the first video once, when I lived where parking was at a premium and I didn’t feel like walking the extra blocks to find an easier space. I think I had about 3″ clearance front and back, if that. Took about 10 min. Some people watching me from their porch applauded when I was done and offered me a beer.

    The method I was taught was:
    Line up your back wheels with the front car’s back wheels
    Turn the steering wheel to the right and angle in until your front wheels line up with the front car’s rear wheel
    Turn the steering wheel to the left to align with the space
    Pull straight forward to give equal space between all the cars (or to center your car within any marked lines).
    It’s always worked for me, though I suppose if the front car or your car had a super long trunk, you’d have to adjust a bit. I’ve never run into that though.

    I really have to wonder what the person in the black car was thinking. Even when they seemed to be on the right track, they lined up at least two meters out from the other car, which sabotaged them from the start. I thought the gray area was a wall until they drove over it, and even without that limiter they couldn’t figure it out. Had I been a passerby, I could not have refrained from kibbitzing. 🙂

  2. xohjoh2n says

    I was once told that in Paris you always leave the handbrake off, in case someone needs to nudge you out of the way while parking.

  3. says

    I parked a Suburban with a 4 horse stock trailer in 10″ of extra space. To be fair, the Sub was rigged to tow and the front wheels could turn nearly perpendicular. That was when I was in practice. Now, I’d probably obliterate everything within 30 feet.

  4. Bruce H says

    I’m a pretty good driver. I can, and have in my youth, pull off sideways parallel parking like in the second video, albeit with much greater clearances. This was in the days before ubiquitous video and a less developed sense of personal responsibility. The trick is having a car with a good hand brake. I would never try something like that now without some kind of legal indemnity. But I bet I can still do it. It would be fun.

  5. blf says

    I was once told that in Paris you always leave the handbrake off, in case someone needs to nudge you out of the way while parking.

    That is correct, albeit it’s not only in Paris. I’ve seen cars trying to park nudge other parked cars (obviously with the handbrake off) in Grenoble. Locally, I’ve never seen this (I live in a Mediterranean seaside village in S.France), but have seen lines of parked cars with very little space in-between the cars — even when the marked parking bays are larger / longer (five cars parked in a row marked out for four cars sort of thing).

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