The History of the London Taxi

The London Taxi is a sight considered to be synonymous with British culture, just as much as tea, crumpets, the monarchy and the London bus. They have come a long way to get to the point where they can be booked so easily on the internet. Since their conception there have been a number of different stages in the history of the London Taxi, with many different models of car being used.

Originally a two-wheeled carriage

The first of the London Taxis was considered to be the “Hackney cab”, where Hackney appears as a translation from the French horse breed “Haquenee”. This horse was known to be a beast of great stamina and had the ability to trot at an average, steady speed over long period of time. Due to this special ability the Haquenee horse was determined to be ideal for pulling carriages and thus, became the motor for the Hackney carriages. The term cab is shortened from “cabriolet”, which was originally a two-wheeled carriage pulled by a single horse, which therefore gives us our term “Hackney cab”.

The petrol-driven car

Obviously as technology was on the rise the esteemed of London could no longer be seen riding around in horse-drawn carriages and instead needed the latest technology of a petrol-driven car. This laid way for the biggest taxi manufacturer – William Beardmore of Glasgow – to fill this need in the market and create the petrol taxi. The term taxi is an abbreviation of taximeter, just in case you were wondering. Following 1945 and the end of WWII people began to rebuild their lives in the capital city and taxi firms could once again operate due to the growing population numbers in the city. The classic taxicab image was born in 1947, this being the FX3 model.

Vehicle development

Though the technology became more advanced and developed, the basic style of the taxi did not change. The FX4 is the best-known taxi in history that ran till 1989. From it’s humble origin as a result of the joint ventures of Mann and Overton, Carbodies of Coventry and Austin, the FX4 underwent continuous development. It began as a 2.2 diesel car, then in 1961 a petrol version was offered. In 1982 Carbodies bought the rights to the FX4 design and “London Taxis International” continued to develop the vehicle, upgrading the engine from the Austin unit to Land Rover diesels.

A more comfortable taxi

Another familiar face was launched in 1989, being the Fairway. Not dissimilar to the FX3 or FX4 in appearance, there were some exciting new changes, including a 2.7L Nissan engine, front suspension with disc brakes and a fully-accessible interior perfect for wheelchair users. This model dominated the market for almost a decade, until 1997 saw the launch of the TXI, a radically different vehicle in comparison to its predecessors. Though the silhouette was somewhat the same, the design saw huge advances in usability and refinement, with a 48% larger windscreen and 90° opening doors. In addition to providing a more comfortable taxi experience for passengers, there were new safety features including three-point seat belts for all passengers and an integral child seat.

Upgraded performance

Sticking with that same classic silhouette the TXII, released in 2002, was a vast improvement in specifications in comparison to the TXI. Firstly, the engine saw an upgrade to a Ford 2.5L unit, which provides better performance and the suspension saw a huge redesign. The rear had coil springs installed and the front anti-roll bar gave passengers a much smoother ride.

Better safety

2006 and we are up-to-date with the history of the London Taxi, with the TX4 release. This model featured a VM Motori diesel engine, which is met with the Euro IV emission standard, providing a vastly improved environmental performance. The ABS brakes allow for much better safety and improved ventilation, an improved intercom system and an interior redesign.

It is safe to say that the London Taxis journey has been a rich and varied one, which has lead the concept to its current stage, with the best taxis on the road that can be easily booked by their customers by a range of means, including advanced online booking.

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