London Taxis and Private Hire History Part 2
After the end of the war the need for new taxis has risen almost immediately. Private hire; london taxiSomehow Nuffield almost foreseen this and they were prepared because in all the years that the industry was dead they tested a prototype. And so in 1947 the Oxford cab sold by Beardmore was introduced. In 1948 the new Austin FX3 started to rule the industry and the private hire business was up and running again.
In 1954 Austin started producing a four-door chauffeur driven car called FL1 and consolidated its position on the market. Meanwhile Beardmore launched MKVII but with little success because the sales were very low. This move lead to the decline of Beardmore and by 1967 the company wasn’t selling cabs anymore. By 1958 Austin created and refined their new big hit the FX4. Almost certainly the most popular of all London cabs, the FX4 stayed in constant manufacturing, with several adjustments and five distinct motors, for 39 years and this is not because it was an outstanding car, on the contrary it had many issues, but simply because none of the big players from the taxi manufacturing industry did not find the finances to replace it.
In 1963 The Winchester cab appeared. It was the first taxi that used a full body made of fiberglass and it stayed in production for 9 years.
Basically the private hire business was in need and demanded a new taxi. To the rescue came Metro-Cammell-Weymann who in 1987 released the Metrocab. In 20 years of manufacturing the model had four ‘masters’. The last one Kamkorp, halted the manufacturing in 2006 but had plans to keep on improving the taxi. From 2008 we have no new news about the Metrocab.
In 1994 equipped with a diesel engine by Ford, The Asquith came out, but because the price was extremely high only about a dozen were sold in London and the company dissolved in a couple of years. Another failure was the TXII, who replaced the popular FX4 and was equipped with a Ford engine.
The most recent cab allowed to be used in London relies on the Mercedes-Benz Vito MPV. It has caused lots of controversies in the private hire business because it doesn’t resemble with a standard London taxi but it compensates through its space and comfort. The original vehicle can’t make the well-known full turn in 7.6 meters but by using the rear wheel steering technology this isn’t an issue anymore.
It is certain that the history of the London taxi can’t be told in a few pages because it is like a whole universe, taking into consideration that the laws that govern the trade have almost 400 years and the story has its own twists and turns like for example in 1654 The Fellowship of Hackney Coachmen was established, but in no more than 3 years Oliver Cromwell disbanded them because they grew too strong. Who knows? Maybe if this wouldn’t happened, today London would be governed by The Fellowship.