Uberific 1951 Austin FX3D London Black Cab

Could this be the best Uber or Lyft cab ever? Currently in need of a lift of its own, this 1951 Austin FX3D London Black Cab might well represent your ticket to taxi-driving stardom. The front seat is not missing; that’s the luggage compartment of this right-hand drive cab. Bidding on eBay opens at $4,500 with no takers… yet.

The “Black Cab” is London’s version of America’s dearly departed yellow Checker Marathon, the ubiquitous and dedicated urban people-mover for hire that served its citizens for decades. This “D” model has the popular diesel engine. The seller states that this Austin “will run and drive,” but has no brakes.

These purpose-built cabs come with interesting features including a built-in hydraulic jacking system and a tight 25 ft turning circle (some details courtesy of Wikipedia).

This spacious passenger compartment could use a flat-screen or two… and a rake. Like the Checker Marathon, this Austin offers a forward-facing fixed seat and twin rear-facing jump seats.

This working man’s office is all business. Few American cars could match this Austin’s four forward gears in 1951. Though many dollars and hours away from restored perfection, this cab may prove an interesting lawn ornament for a British Pub, or an alternative limousine for weddings and promenades. An independent cab driver with flair may favor this alternative to a Lincoln Town Car. Subjects of the Crown may cry foul but repowering with a modern engine and transmission might simplify putting this black beauty back to work. Any Austin cab fans out there? What’s your vision for this once-devoted servant of the populace?

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Comments

  1. Brakeservo

    I owned three of ’em once! And one was a very good runner – I drove my kids to school in it regularly! At the time I owned a small auto glass shop and the sign code fascists tried to ban every sign I needed to keep my business open, so finally I painted the cab with the logo and name of my business and drove it too work and parked it out front every day – the best and most effective sign I could have had! It drove those city council cretins crazy ‘cuz they couldn’t figure out how to ban it in their planned ‘Workers Paradise with no signs or commercial free speech!’

    11+

  2. Brakeservo

    As much as I loved and drove my old Taxi, as rough as this one is – it’s overpriced even if it were given away for free! But the Austin/BMC diesel engine parts aren’t hard to find at all – the engine was also used in various types of construction equipment and even tractors sold in America – NAPA used to stock parts, gee, maybe still does??

    2+

  3. J Paul

    Sadly, Uber and Lyft both have restrictions on the age of cars used by drivers. As of two years ago, that was 2003 or newer…and likely has increased since then.

    2+

    • Mark-A

      Every possibility that it’s a Rolling 15yr Maximum age for the vehicles as we all know that everything is a lot more comfortable than a 15yr old one even though the modern one is 400lb heavier as we all want Leather, Electric Windows, Air Con & the like & STILL the manufacturers complain about Fuel Economy! They don’t seem to understand that if they got rid of the niceties & saved weight that they would do the same MPG with a smaller power/displacement engines! Seems like people are scared to actually use common sense & think for themselves!!

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  4. Ken Carney

    A gentleman in my hometown owned one just like this and used to
    drive it in parades when he wasn’t driving it around to show it off.
    His was outfitted with a set of musical horns on the left side of the
    car where the baggage compartment is now. I seem to recall that he took great delight in blowing these horns when he would pull in behind
    some unsuspecting driver. Might bid on this and surprise my BIL by
    having it parked under my carport! He’s always wanted one, and I think
    that this would be a blast to cruise around Old Town on weekends once
    everything was repaired and properly sorted. Great find! You just made
    my day!

    1+

  5. AMCFAN

    There was one like this in almost the same condition Ohio last fall and sold on ebay. I had to look at the pics closely. It sold for $1900 which I thought was a bit high.

    These are neat to look at but do not hold much sentiment (or value) in the States. If so only if one spent time in London. By the time these were out of service. If memory is correct could only be used for so many years and had to be replaced.

    By the time they were done were pretty beat and used up Not the ideal collector car unless you were single. Your friends and family can’t ride next to you and must ride in the back…..or may a good thing?

    Restoration parts are available but expensive. Plan on suspension brakes and rear end while you are at it. May be more feasible to swap in a Perkins 3 cyl. diesel. There are places that can make an adapter plate for anything. Your $4500 entry fee on this would be only the beginning.

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  6. -Bear-

    $4500 seems a little steep for one in that condition. But who know? …maybe with a little paint & some interior cleaning/refurb it might be worth it? If all of the mechanicals are good it might just be worth it (to somebody)!
    Sadly, it will probably end up being turned into either a hot rod or a billboard.

    I’m quite familiar with these London Taxis. They were built VERY SOLID, with a BEEFY frame underneath & a sturdy dependable drivetrain.
    (Here’s a picture of MY 1957 Austin FX3. …which, by the way, is ALSO For Sale to anyone who makes me a reasonable offer!) 🙂

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  7. Bill

    My son’s FX4 (next model after this) is Nissan powered. Wish it still had the diesel, but it is pretty reliable, and at the end of the day, fun to drive. Not a great highway car, but fun around town.

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  8. Puhnto

    I think you’re mistaken on the Checker jumpseats. My recollection is that they faced forward, as did limousine jumpseats of the time. Anyone?

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    • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

      Thank you Puhnto! I was going from memory, but you are correct… http://www.bobspropshop.com/taxi.html These are not what I was picturing at all, and my wife will gladly confirm that I don’t always remember things correctly!

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  9. Brian M

    Two years ago there were two of these for sale alongside US 5 in Bradford, Vermont. One was gas, the other diesel. The gas one was the better of the two appearance-wise but the diesel one supposedly ran. Since I already had three (now four) project British cars, my spouse of now 51 years just gave me “the look” and in Vermont they stayed (darnit).

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