Liz Dobson meets the drivers who find parallel parking a breeze

In the end, it was one fluid move that won the competition. He reversed into a 5.6m space without hitting two polystyrene car, shifted the Ford Focus automatic transmission into drive and hit the car horn.

All done in 10.5s. And that quick and perfect parallel park won Aucklander Jon Acock the title of New Zealand Parker of the Year last weekend.

Ford New Zealand created the competition at a specially built arena on Auckland's waterfront to promote the parking assist programme, which can automatic parallel-park the Focus.

The technology is an option in other brands, such as the Range Rover Evoque, but Ford NZ was highlighting its availability in a less expensive brand.


I was one of the judges at last Saturday's event in which 20 competitors on Saturday tried to parallel parking between the two polystyrene dummy cars without hitting them or the curb.

Putting the left wheels on to a line earned extra points.

Professional driver Tim Martin was demonstrating the hands-free parking assist technology in the Focus opposite the arena.

By the end of the event, Martin's Focus could complete the manoeuvre in 17s. In a couple of the cases, the competitors were still finding reverse by the time his car had parked.

Judging Acock's manoeuvre from just 50cm away, I knew from the moment he reversed into the spot that he had taken the title in the best of three final against Jeff Li, who owned a Focus so had plenty of parallel parking experience in the car.

Before the final, Li was the front runner to win the competition after the favourite, Christine Cato, was knocked - well, outmaneuvered - out of the semifinals.

Acock put his parking skills down to living on a street in Durham, England, that had no driveways and was lined with terraced housing.

"It was a fantastic event, with some moments of nail-biting action," said Ford's New Zealand marketing manager, Chris Masterton.

"There were plenty of close calls and a few contestants were eliminated along the way because they made contact with the curb or one of the dummy cars, but all taking part gave it their best shot."

Acock won a year's free valet parking at Auckland's Britomart Car Park, valued at $6000, so he won't have to try to parallel park in the city any time soon.