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Taxi! This hot rod London cab offers one passenger a ride on the wild side

by James Mills
21 August 2020 2 min read
Taxi! This hot rod London cab offers one passenger a ride on the wild side
Photos: RSD Wöcthl

London taxis were never known for being especially rapid. While you might occasionally happen upon a driver attempting an impersonation of Nigel Mansell or, lately, Lewis Hamilton, the lethargic diesel engines, harsh-yet-spongy ride and skinny tyres are not made of the right stuff for winning a race from a set of traffic lights. But if you kitted out your London taxi with an 8.2-litre (502 cubic-inch) Chevrolet V8 and a 9-inch Ford rear axle, there’s not much that wouldn’t be left trailing in a drag race. And that’s exactly what one driver did.

A hot rod black cab has come up for sale at, of all places, a fancy Austrian classic car dealership, rather than in the dingy depths of Bermondsey. The 1989 Austin FX4 and its cabbie once presumably plied a trade on London’s streets looking for fares, doubtless refusing to venture north or south of the river, depending on where the driver reckoned business was most brisk.

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Converted in Britain, by custom car specialist TopGear Hayes, the original Nissan 2.7-litre diesel four-cylinder motor was scrapped and replaced with every hot rodder’s go-to V8, an 8.2-litre Chevrolet lump. An automatic transmission, 9-inch Ford rear axle, comically large rear tyres, and bunch of other equipment was fitted.

London Taxi hot road V8 engine_Hagerty
“What’ll she do to the gallon, guv?”

The ad says that the taxi is road-legal (note the cheeky ‘CAB’ registration suffix) and has hydraulic suspension at each corner, which explains why the vehicle appears to be squatting on the ground while parked. There’s a comfy-looking driver’s seat inside, as well as a handsome dashboard, and in place of a passenger seat are two massive subwoofers, each with their own amp.

Talking of passengers, this cab can only carry one fare-paying passenger. In an effort to house the huge Hoosier drag tyres, the rear seat is not a bench for three passengers, but rather a single chair flanked by massive, carpeted boxes. Hands up who’s brave enough to sit over the differential and between the wheels and tyres as the driver drops the clutch for a full-bore launch?

London Taxi hot rod for sale_Hagerty
“Mind your step as you get in, Miss'”

According to the listing, the taxi is owned by a private party and the Austrian dealership, RSD Wöcthl, is selling it on consignment with an asking price of €44,990, or roughly £40,000. That may sound expensive but for anyone with a burning desire to burn rubber across Westminster Bridge while ferrying one passenger at a time past Big Ben, it’s probably a small price to pay for a doubtless hilarious set of wheels.

And with the meter still in the car, the passenger can watch and scream as the 1/4 miles – and pounds and pence – clock up.

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