Wednesday January 10, 2018
‘Are you sure you can spare it, guvnor?’ ‘I don’t go south of the river at this time of night’. Or in other words five of the most memorable taxi cabs from around the world…
5) AUSTIN FX3
It was the FX3 that came to be known as the archetypal “London Taxi”; a 2.2 litre OHV petrol engine, integral “Jackall” hydraulic jacks, rod operated brakes and, naturally, an open luggage platform alongside the driver. The chassis was supplied by Longbridge, the coachwork was by Carbodies of Coventry and the FX3 could be seen on the streets of London as recently as 1968; ten years after production ceased. There was also a four-door “Hire Car “option while all later models were fitted with the distinctive “pig’s ear” roof-mounted flashing indicators. An Austin diesel power plant was available from 1956 and, above all, for some reason this is a cab that I will always associate with Sid James - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ktu-wW6XtmM
4) PEUGEOT 403
I could have equally mentioned the 404, the 504 or the 505 but it was the 403 that arguably was the first “world car” to bear the Peugeot badge – including as a taxi. Every aspect of this understatedly great motor car was over-engineered, meaning that a cabbie in Paris, Brussels or Nairobi could clock up a six-figure mileage without fear of breakdowns. N.B Such 403s were usually maintained to a rather better condition than the Cabriolet used by Lt. Columbo.
3) MERCEDES-BENZ W115
In 1981, Mr Gregorios Sachinidis decided to purchase a five-year old Mercedes Benz 240D. The car had already amassed 220,000 miles but in all other respects it seemed to be ideal for his taxi business in Greece. In 2004, this same model was donated to the Mercedes-Benz Museum and over the past 23 years the Sachinidis 240D had used four engines in rotation and had clocked up 2,858,307 miles. It is little wonder that throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the diesel engine W115 became the cab of choice for thousands of drivers in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.
2) FIAT 600 MULTIPLA
No matter how many times you encounter a 600 Multipla at a car show, at the Goodwood Revival or in those early black and white episodes of The Saint with Warren Mitchell as a not overly plausible Italian cabbie – they are still utterly incredible. And while the driver of a Rome taxi would have to be quite short in order to able to sit comfortably the packaging was quite ingenious. The front passenger seat could double as a luggage platform, the headroom for the occupants of the rear bench was remarkable and the middle row of “cricket seats” were serviceable for short journeys. The Fiat was also used in London as a pioneer minicab, a move that did not meet with universal approval from black cab drivers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuevMW33yss
1) CHECKER AEROBUS
For those times when you needed to convey 11 passengers, plus their suitcases in style, Checker of Kalamazoo had the perfect vehicle – the Aerobus Station Wagon. Eight doors (nine if you include the tailgate), four rows of bench seats and a turning circle of over 56 feet; at least power assisted steering was standard equipment. Parking in a car that was 19 ½ feet long could be entertaining but although there were the alternatives of a short-wheel-base nine-seater, only the full-scale Aerobus would suffice.