Introducing Hannah, a 1992 LTI 2.7 litre diesel FX4; best known as a London Black Cab. Having plied her trade on the streets of London for 16 years, she retired to travel the world.
Private Taxi Blogs
These blogs have really helped us out on issues that could arise, the problems that these vehicles can have and even issues such as using bus lanes and finding insurance providers.
My London Taxi – This is a really good blog about a family who brought a Fairway to use as a family vehicle.
London taxi cabs, the original people carriers – This web site helped us loads with the issues of rust and repairs for a vehicle this old!
London Taxi History.
Design and launch
The FX4 was the successor to the Austin FX3 produced between 1948 and 1959 and in its own day regarded as the classic British taxi. Like the FX3, the FX4 was designed by Austin in collaboration with Mann and Overton (a taxi dealership) and Carbodies (a coachbuilder).
The design team included Albert Moore from Austin’s engineering division, Jack Helberg from Carbodies and David Southwell of Mann and Overton. The original design was by Austin’s Eric Bailey with the assistance of Carbodies’ Jake Donaldson. Little change was necessary to produce the outline of the production vehicle.
Like the FX3, the FX4 had a separate chassis (which was in fact barely changed from the FX3 chassis) with a body stiffened by a divider between the driving and passenger compartments.
The first FX4, registration mark VLW 431, was delivered in July 1958 with an official launch later that year.
As launched, the FX4 was fitted with a 2.2 L Austin diesel engine and a Borg-Warner automatic transmission. In 1961, the manual transmission from the Austin Gipsy was available as an option. From 1962, the Austin 2.2 L petrol engine was available. The vast majority of FX4s used throughout its service history were however fitted with a diesel engine and an automatic transmission.
In 1968, there was a facelift. The original cars were provided with small rear stop and tail lights and roof-mounted turn indicators known as “bunny ears”. The rear wings were modified to accept the taillights and turn indicators from the Austin 1100. Front indicators were also provided below the headlights. The “bunny ears” were later removed.
In 1971, the 2.2 L (strictly 2178 cc) diesel engine was replaced by a bored-out unit displacing 2.5 L. This new model was known as the FX4D.
Originally the FX4 was fitted with chrome bumpers and overriders which are said by many to be the same as those fitted to the Ford Consul. By 1979, the tooling for the overriders was worn out and the bumper blades remained chrome while the overriders were replaced by rubber mouldings.
The Carbodies FX4
In 1982, Carbodies, who had been producing the FX4 for Austin for some years, took over the intellectual property rights in the FX4 and began to produce them under their own name. The old Austin engine was no longer available due to difficulties with emissions. The plant had been sold to India. Carbodies selected the Land Rover 2286 cc/63 bhp diesel engine in its place. The new model was branded the FX4R,R for Rover. The FX4R had some improvements over the previous FX4 models with power steering being available, which is detectable by small bulges on the base of the bonnet, and improved braking through servo assistance. The performance and reliability of the FX4R was however very poor.
Some users replaced the Land Rover engine with the Perkins/Mazda 2977 cc diesel to give a very powerful car.
The Perkins-powered FX4R, while powerful and reliable, gained a reputation for being noisy at idle and for causing cracks in the chassis.
An alternative approach was the refurbishment of old chassis and suspensions and fitting of new bodywork and 2.5 L diesel engines made using the plant exported to India. Because the vehicles used refurbished chassis and suspension components, they were required to have a registration mark ending with the letter Q rather than the current year letter. They were therefore known as the FX4Q or “Q cabs”. They lacked power steering but were substantially cheaper than an FX4R. These vehicles were produced by Carbodies but sold by the dealer Rebuilt Cabs Ltd. As of 2006, it is believed that one or two Q cabs remain in service in London.
The LTI FX4
In 1984 London Taxis International (LTI) was formed by Manganese Bronze Ltd who by then owned both Carbodies, and Mann and Overton.
LTI’s answer to the poor 2.25 FX4R was the design to the FX4S using the Land Rover 2.5 L diesel engine. The switch gear which had used toggle switches was updated to rocker switches and the rear compartment was redesigned to allow five passengers (grey trim) rather than the four (black trim) of the earlier models this update was branded Fx4s plus . The chrome bumper blades were replaced by all black, rolled steel ones.
Some observers recognise the FX4W, which was available from early 1986, and enabled the FX4 to be wheelchair accessible, as a separate model. In this variant, the left rear door was made capable of opening 180° and the front/rear divider staggered. Wheelchair access could also be provided as a retrofit to existing vehicles. Its provision became compulsory in London in 2000 resulting in many older cabs retiring from London service, or “being taken off the plate”, rather than incurring the expense of a conversion.
The FX4S Plus, introduced in September 1987, replaced the by then very old fashioned