Parents across the country are used to using their cars as taxis, ferrying children to and from parties, events, sports and clubs.
So why not go the whole hog and invest in an ex black cab, one of the most iconic and practical vehicles on the road?
Specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux takes a look at turning one of these ubiquitous vehicles into the ultimate people carrier.
Black cabs as we know them today have been a permanent feature of our cities and towns for well over half a century, when the FX4 superseded the antiquated Austin FX3.
Since then, the shape remained unchanged until the revamped TX1 appeared on our streets in 1997 – and even then the design was merely updated rather than ripped apart.
Black cabs – which also come in other colours, such as red! – can carry five passengers in comfort (six if you add a front passenger seat, which is possible), and have that turn-on-a-sixpence capability (actually 25ft) that’s a boon in congested school car parks.
So here are 10 reasons you may want to consider an actual taxi for your parental taxi service:
1) They are incredibly roomy – unrivalled passenger headroom and leg-room and, unless you have a full load of passengers, there’s plenty of space for shopping and luggage. The boot is actually quite small, but luggage can be stowed in various places in the passenger compartment.
2) Cheap insurance – it’s true that most insurers will struggle to know what to rate your FX4 or TX1, it’s unlikely to appear in computerised listing of car makes and models used on comparison websites but, once you’ve identified a specialist broker like Adrian Flux, insurance costs can be much lower than many current people carriers on the market.
3) They’re cool – OK, so they may not have the wow factor of a Ferrari, or the cache of a Mercedes, but the chances are you’ll turn as many heads turning up in a black cab, and raise a smile rather than a jealous scowl. You’d also be joining the ranks of the celebrity cabbies – over the years Sid James, Laurence Olivier, Stanley Kubrick, the Duke of Edinburgh, Stephen Fry and Kate Moss have used a black cab as personal transport. Fry once said: “I sometimes park it on taxi stands all day and no one notices.”
4) Safety – they are easily one of the safest cars on the roads. As a licensed passenger vehicle, safety was clearly of major importance when these cars were commissioned, and they are among the most robust and safe conveyances on four wheels. Granted, that’s partly because they don’t go very fast.
5) Peace and quiet – the chances are, if you’re thinking of buying a black cab, you’re planning on using it to convey kids. And as any parent will know, there are few more irritating and distracting things for a driver than little ones shouting, screaming, crying, arguing and well, being kids. So simply close off the driver’s partition, put on the stereo and forget they exist for a few minutes. Bliss.
6) Good value – you can pick up an ex black cab for about £3,000, sometimes less. Yes, they are likely to have covered a decent amount of miles, but bear in mind that these cars have been incredibly well maintained over the years, almost certainly much better than your average second hand people carrier, the Nissan 2.7 diesel engine used in the TX1 is pretty bomb-proof, and the chassis is incredibly robust. You can buy taxis from places like Elite London Taxis.
7) Access – black cabs can cope with the most “urban” of pushchairs – you know, those new ones that look like they’re built for off-roading in the Grand Canyon. They can also easily be adapted for wheelchair users, and general access to and from the vehicle is good because of the large doors and high position on the road.
8) Cheap spare parts – because of the hugely competitive nature of the taxi maintenance market, spare parts are much, much cheaper than your average people carrier. Brakes and body panels are cheaper than on most cars, and the panels bolt on and off, making repairs quicker, easier and therefore cheaper.
9) Great for business – in more recent years, black cabs have been well utilised as advertising mediums, with vast panels available for graphics. So if you run your own business, black cabs are the perfect way to get about and plug your services at the same time.
10) You can use bus lanes – actually, you can’t, that’s a myth. It’s illegal, although some owners probably do.
Adrian Flux provide quotes for all sorts of unusual vehicles, from former taxis to modified motors, bespoke vehicles and everything in between.