Madrid — It's hard enough to find a parking place in any Spanish city. In La Linea it's becoming impossible. The Spanish town bordering the British colony of Gibraltar has suddenly been flooded with the gleaming luxury cars of rich Gibraltarians.
''They're filling up all the parking spaces in town with cars we could never afford,'' comments a La Linea businessman.
The irony of it is that there is still no open road between Gibraltar and the Spanish mainland. True, in December Spain reopened the border, closed by General Franco 13 years ago, as a humanitarian gesture to help get talks going again with Britain about the future of ''the Rock.'' But the gates were unlocked only for pedestrians, who must be resident Gibraltarians or holders of Spanish passports. No cars or commercial traffic are allowed.
Wealthy would-be drivers on the Rock - which boasts about 7,000 duty-free cars on only 2 1/2 square miles of territory with 20 miles of asphalt - couldn't wait to take a spree on the Costa Del Sol highway. So they get their fancy cars to Spain . . . via North Africa.
Every day, ferries ship deluxe Gibraltarian cars first to Tangiers in Morocco , then on to the Spanish port of Algeciras. La Linea is only a short drive away, and a parking space can be bought for a premium 6,000 pesetas a month (about $46 at the present rate).
''When they finish work on the Rock,'' explains the La Linea businessman, ''they jump into a taxi with their golf clubs or whatever, go to the border, walk across to their garage, and then they roar off up the coast.
''In spite of the Gibraltarians using the town as a parking lot, my own fleet of rent-a-cars is fully booked at every weekend. Since the border opened, the Gibraltarians couldn't wait to get out. They're spending money like mad and that's good for all of us.''
Locals eye the garages full of sports cars with Gibraltar plates. But the business boom in La Linea makes a lack of parking places for more modest cars much easier to tolerate.