The Little Luxuries of Life

Anyone who flies a lot knows what a treat it is to be picked up or dropped off at the airport. You don’t have to park your car and lug your bags to the terminal – nor, on return, lug them back. It’s even better when the car that comes to fetch you is a classic you’ve always dreamed of taking for a ride.

As grand as it is to be met at the airport or train station, there’s something that can make it even better: being picked up in a great car. The other night I was standing on the curb at the West Palm Beach, Florida airport when I saw a young woman pull up in a recent Maserati, thinking how great that would be as I awaited the person meeting me in his 20-year-old Mercedes diesel wagon.  I heard an unexpected growl of many cylinders and caught a glimpse of a dark red Ferrari 250 GTE and headed for the curb.

I’d only seen the car once before, but I knew it belonged to my host. There it was, in faded and cracked original paint and beautiful original leather.  Traffic was light and it was a great excuse to give the old girl a bit of a run.

So, I climbed on in, with my small bag on my lap and reached for the seat belt. I’d been in several other Ferraris, but never at night, so it was a treat to see the glow of the Veglia instruments and listen to the distinctive sound of the three-liter V-12, which was remarkably quiet.

What surprised me even more was that we drove into town, looking for a parking spot on the street, before finally settling on a public parking garage—with a 54-year-old Ferrari!

In the late 1990s I had a similar experienced when an Italian friend picked me up in Milan to take me to the airport. Imagine my surprise when he appeared in his Lancia Aurelia B24S Aurelia Spider. You know, those are the ones that recently accelerated from nowhere to well-over a million dollars.  Anyway, I was a bit shocked that Francesco would drive his beautiful Lancia through the center of chaotic Milan and deposit me at teaming Malpensa Airport. I was also caught off guard by the size of  a luggage compartment that simply swallowed my large bag. Try doing that in just about any other European sports car dating from 1955.

Of course, there was plenty of room in a Jaguar Mk II, in which I was once dropped off to catch a train. It was a right-hand-drive UK Market 2.4 liter car in a lovely period pale green color. It attracted quite a bit of attention in front of the small city train station. But I didn’t mind as it made the travel experience all the more interesting.

Being picked up in a great car isn’t something I’ll ever get used to, but with long lines, crowded flights and delays, sometimes it’s wonderful to get an unexpected treat.  It can really make your day.

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