Several years ago, while on a business trip in London riding in one of that beautiful city’s iconic black cabs, I was suddenly struck by the crazy idea that the vehicle I was in would make an ideal family car:
- it’s highly fuel efficient,
- it has a cavernous passenger compartment which seats 5 large adults,
- it can turn around on the narrowest of streets,
- it’s constructed with an extremely safe body-on-chassis design, and
- it’s so reliable, many are still on the road after more than 300,000 miles of punishing commercial use.
When I returned from my UK trip I started searching for my London Taxi. In order to drive one in the States with our rigorous emission standards, I assumed that I would have to buy a pre-75 model (which would also only be available in Right Hand Drive), which would undermine my “ideal family car” justification. I was surprised to learn, however, that LTI made 250 vehicles for the U.S. market in 2003 & 2004. These LHD models were marketed by LTI in the U.S. as the “London Executive Sedan”. I tracked this one down and purchased it almost 5 years ago. My wife thought I had lost my mind when I presented it to her, but quickly grew to appreciate it.
Her primary complaint with the London Taxi was that she didn’t like sitting by herself in the driver’s seat on the other side of the partition from the passengers (a value-added feature as far as I was concerned). I installed a custom jump seat (which is only really practical for short trips around town) and retractable seatbelt in the large luggage storage area on the front passenger side. The fold-up jump seat keeps this luggage area usable. The taxi also comes equipped with the standard-issue London Taxi pull cord which London cabbies use to close the passenger door after the luggage is loaded without getting out of the cab in inclement weather (quite important presumably when you work in London).
The best feature of this taxi is its “smiles per mile” factor. Wherever you drive in the black cab, people smile when they see you or give you the “thumbs up” sign as you drive by. It’s interesting that more children than adults in the U.S. are familiar with the iconic black cab, because an LTI TXII named Chauncy Fares was featured in Pixar’s animated film “Cars 2”.
LTI (London Taxis International Limited) manufactured the TXII model from 2002 to 2006. Until 2012, LTI was a wholly owned subsidiary of Manganese Bronze Holdings plc, an English automotive engineering company, which was best known for manufacturing of Norton and Matchless motorcycles in the UK in the 1960s. In 2012, Manganese went bust and LTI was purchased by Chinese auto company Geely, with the goal of maintaining taxi production of the iconic black cab in Coventry England.
The TXII’s 2.4liter Ford DuraTorq turbo diesel engine may not be very fast, but it is efficient (rated at 25.3 MPG city and 30.7 MPG highway). Its 14 gallon tank gives the taxi a range of approximately 400 miles. If properly maintained, a London Taxi will faithfully serve its owner for several hundred thousand (yes, you read that correctly) miles—especially impressive when you consider that’s under heavy commercial taxi use.
However, what’s even more impressive about London taxis is their maneuverability. Since 1906, all hailed taxis licensed in London (officially called “London Hackney Carriages”) have had to comply with the “Conditions of Fitness”, which require (among many other rules), that a London Hackney Carriage must have separate passenger and driver compartments, high internal headroom (supposedly required so a gentleman wouldn’t have to remove his hat), a ramp for wheelchair user access (a more recent requirement) and the ability to “turn through 180° on either lock between two walls 8.535 m (28 ft) apart” so a cabbie could drop off a fare on one ‘kerb’ and pick up a new fare on the opposite ‘kerb’ without blocking traffic. Only two vehicles currently meet that formidable requirement and this spacious vehicle’s 25-foot turning radius is among the worlds tightest. Rear seating easily accommodates five large adults, there is a built-in intercom for conversation between passengers and driver and a wheelchair ramp is built into the passenger compartment floor. Wheelchairs can be locked into a recessed area in front of one of the rear jump seats and a seatbelt extension is included for the wheelchair passenger.
This vehicle has just 20,000 miles on the odometer (of which I have clocked about 5,000) and is in exceptional condition. TXIIs were sold in several colors. When I purchased my car it was white, but I bought it knowing I would be painting it black as a proper “black cab” should be painted. The interior is unchanged from the standard (and extraordinarily) durable grey & yellow fabric. This taxi has been exceptionally well cared-for (because I’m totally compulsive about maintaining my unusual fleet of cars we refer to as “scuderia bizarri”). It is fully-equipped as imported, totally compliant with the Conditions of Fitness and most interesting of all, features left-hand drive. Sticker price when new was between 33,000 and 40,000 British pounds (about $50-65,000). The U.S. Spec TXII meets all California, US and Canadian environmental and safety regulations, and the taxi is perfect for pleasure, business, livery or promotional use—or all the above. This London cab comes with unused OEM spare, two OEM wheel chocks, OEM Jack, wheelchair ramp extension, blind spot mirrors (recommended to me by a London cabbie on whose taxi the same type were mounted), North American factory service manual, an owner’s manual and several assorted spares and consumables. Features:
- Power windows
- Air conditioning
- Driver airbag
- Separate climate controls for Driver and passenger compartment
- AM/FM + CD player
- Fire extinguisher
- Front and rear windshield washers / wipers
- Separate lockable driver and passenger compartments
- LTI security system
- Cup holder
- Driver’s 12V power charger
- Interior dome lights
- Storage net (has been removed to install front passenger jump seat)
Price: $29,995 or best offer
|Year:||2004||Interior Color:||Grey/Yellow (std)|
|Model:||TXII||Transmission:||4 speed automatic|
|Trim:||London Taxi||Body Type:||Limousine|
|Engine:||DOHC turbo diesel||Warranty:||None; sold AS IS|
|Displacement||2,402 cc||Vehicle Title:||Clear|
|Drive Type:||2WD||Fuel Type:||Diesel|
|Suspension, front||Coil spring independent||Safety||Driver Airbag|
|Suspension, rear||Live rear axle with parabolic leaf springs||Disability Equipped:||Yes|