Austin FX4/FL2 ‘Black Cab’ (ADO6)
When work on the FX4 began in 1956, BMC had a head start, with having had many years’ experience with the FX3 and its pre-war antecedents produced by Austin and the Nuffield group. It’s worth noting here that the FX3 had been commissioned by the influential taxi dealership Mann and Overton, a company whose importance to this story should not be underestimated: as well as having a majority financial stake in the design of the cab, which would see them take the lion’s share of the profits it generated, they also had a stranglehold on the supply and sale of taxi throughout the London area.
Little introduction’s needed here – the London black cab is a British icon, and one that in all probability will be immortal despite the best efforts of the legislators. It’s a complicated and long story, and who better to tell it than Declan Berridge?
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All hail the London taxi! THERE’S NO denying that the FX4 had a tough act to follow. Since its launch in 1948, the FX3 had become an indelible part of the post-war London scene, carrying thousands of people every day and appearing in countless black and white films of the period. Replacing it would not […]
Andrew Elphick asks when is a black cab not a black cab? Outwardly resembling a regular FX4 taxi (as would be its discreet intention) however the eagle-eyed might spot the radiator grille-mounted badge: ‘CARBODIES’. This is the only indication of being a purchase tax paid private vehicle, and not a ‘hire’ car. This example (the […]
Andrew Elphick This year might be you last chance to hail a FX4 – so flag one down while you still can! Transport for London’s new 2012 air quality strategy (launched as an integral part of the Low Emission Zone – LEZ – initiatives), infers all traditional ‘Hackney carriage’ taxis will be subject to a […]
Operating from their factory at Holyhead Road in Coventry since 1928, the coachbuilders Carbodies built up an enviable reputation within the motor industry both for the quality of their work and their ability to produce cost-effective tooling. Over the years, almost all of the British car manufacturers made use of Carbodies’ expertise in one capacity […]
Since 1850, the Public Carriage Office’s Conditions of Fitness have set the standards to which all purpose-built taxicabs licensed for use in London must conform. Naturally, they have been adapted and updated over the years to reflect the move from horse-drawn Hackney carriages to the first motor cabs, and remain subject to revision in order […]
Although the FX4 had little in the way of serious competition (at least until 1980s Metrocab came along), it wasn’t for the want of trying. From the 1950s through to the 1970s, a succession of manufacturers tried their hand at producing a cab of their own, but none made a singificant dent in the FX4’s […]
The FX4 may have enjoyed an epic production run, but that’s not the way it was planned. Like the FX3 before it, the FX4 was only intended to remain in production for ten years, which coincided neatly with the maximum number of years for which a cab would usually remain in service. Thus, the FX4 […]
Being built on a sturdy separate chassis, the FX4 and FL2 – like their predecessors – were well-placed to receive the attention of specialist converters. For a while in the 1960s, they found favour with the publishers of the London Evening Standard as the basis for a newspaper delivery van, with the super-tight turning circle […]
Hire and reward! WHEN is a taxi not a taxi? Why, when it’s a hire car, of course. The FX4 was also built as car designed for the “private hire” market (what we might call the minicab trade today). The FL2 differed from the FX4 in two key respects: most obvious was the lack of […]