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 rolling 15 year licensing plan. Effectively any Taxi registered before 1997 will have the orange roof mounted glow of ‘TAXI’ extinguished when its annual vehicle licence renewal is due.
So after 53 years of sterling service will the iconic FX4 finally vanish from our capital’s streets?
Well nearly… Even though the successor to the Austin FX4 hire car (London Taxis Intermational’s TX1) appeared almost 39 years to the day at the 1997 British motorshow, (production ending that same month in October 1997 to be usurped by the new fangled TX1 production line), some FX4’s slipped the net – whether cancelled orders, or dealership back lot unsold stock, with five 1998-, one 1999- and one 2000-registered Fairways currently licensed. While 4099 FX4/Fairways are legal and touting ‘FOR HIRE’ on London’s streets (the oldest a 1986 model), come 2013 just seven survivors will be left in captivity. These fascinating figures can be found here.
Of course, you still need to pass the annual inspection (£101 for the application and inspection fee, £53 for the licence – the square white plate), so old age, accident damage and pure uneconomical repair will wither this number further. So if you happen to be in the capital, grab a cab, demand an unnecessary U-turn (to marvel at the famed 25ft turning circle), play spot the BL parts bin while engaging the driver in conversation. And ask those all-important questions: will your personal welder retire, is a bed of nails more uncomfortable than a Fairway drivers seat, and are chrome bumpers better than plastic ones?