Taxi of 1958 Austin FX4
While 1958 brought us the Rover P5, Austin-Healey Sprite and Austin A40 Farina, it’s the humble Austin FX4 that really got inner city Britain moving. This is the vehicle that would come to define the term ‘London Taxi’ for the next 39 years and in 1958 was almost dangerously radical. The styling was rather well proportioned, especially given that regulations said it had to be no more than 15ft long.
The story that the coachwork had to contain enough space for a bale of hay is a myth, but it did need sufficient headroom for a gentleman in a top hat, and a turning circle of not more than 25 feet. Meanwhile, traditionalists bemoaned the absence of a hydraulic jacking system and opening windscreen (for ventilation, demisting and peering through pea-souper fogs) as on the old FX3. Most shocking was that the FX4 was the first London cab with four doors, thereby ending the 30-year-old tradition of the capital’s cabbies driving with their left arm casually draped over a steamer trunk.