Project London: The Black Cabs

Have you ever wondered why do the legendary taxis still occupy the streets of London?


The city of London is busy preparing for the international sports extravaganza, the 2012 Olympics. Athelets, sportsmen, media reporters, fans, and others will flock towards the riverine city from every pockets of the world. Whatever grabs their attention and brings a mouth-watering smile on their face or not, the legendary Black Cabs will certainly. And everyone, for sure, be interested in going for a ride. They are recognised to the best taxis in the world. Beware.. The old-fashioned styling of the car may decieve you. It has more space than the Daimler’s biggest Maybach model! After all, the taxi assures a ride fit for the kingdom’s Her Majesty the Queen!!

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Popularly known as London Black Cabs or Hackney carriages, these taxis (current model is TX4) are currently manufactured by London Taxi Company in China ( like everything else in the world ) with a joint venture with the Shanghai LTI. The car’s design is loosely an evolution of the outmoded Austin FX4 (Fairway – 82 Series) and the styling remains marginally changed. The first generation TX was made in 1997 and the current model TX4 is the third update.

The most interesting fact about this taxi would be its 7.62-metre turning radius. There is a story behind it. Have you heard of a hotel influencing a car’s turning radius? The famous Savoy Hotel in London had small roundabouts and its parking areas required that the cars have a smaller turning radius to manoeuvre easily. This eventually became the standard for all London cabs. Literally speaking, it is capable of taking a 360-degree turn on a single-lane road without having to reverse much. Special, extra wide tires make it easier to mount curbs, making the taxi perfect for the antique city.

The London Black Cabs
Super-spacious backseats are remarkable. The front passenger space is used for storing luggage.

As a vehicle meant for tourists, the cab’s large glass area makes it really easy to get a good view of the sights. The super-spacious cabin is as good as a limo and inside there’s enough space for even a person in a wheelchair to ride comfortably. Modern cabs comes equipped with intercom systems to communicate with the driver, as there exists a glass divide so that passengers can have private conversations at the back. The TX4 employs a 2.5-litre turbo diesel automatic, which comes with independent double-wishbone front suspension and coil spring and telescopic dampers. ABS comes standard and also meets the latest Euro IV emission and safety norms. The solid frame chassis and the bolt-on/bolt-off panels keep the maintanance costs low and are built to last. It is quite reliable for the Britons to own and its track record for reliability all over the world justifies that.

Driving a Taxi in the UK is not just a matter of picking up
your keys and jumping in your cab. You have to pass a herculian teststo prove that you have an intimate knowledge on the city’s geography, including streets, historical monuments, landmarks, etc. So, like the cabs, their drivers are also special and smart, bringing out the world’s best taxi service. These cabs can be spotted in many cities all over the world, even in India. Some of the posh hotels here own few London cabs – a novel way of making their guests from abroad feel at home! So, when is gonna be our turn for a ride??

Photos Credit: Businessweek, Telegraph UK, CarAdvice

Dhiyanesh Ravichandran

Editorial consultant (Automotive and Technology), academic, and blogger based in India. He can be reached at

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1 Response

  1. Raghupathy says:

    London cabs add beauty to city.. I enjoyed it when I visited

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