Whichever city you might travel to, there’s one sight that remains ubiquitous: the local taxi cab. And quite often, the size, shape, colour of the local taxis – not to mention the… ahem… number of wheels they have – can tell you a great deal about where you are in the world. So here’s a gallery of our top five most recognisable taxis from across the globe.
London Black Cab
No surprise that we’d have to start close to home, as the black cab is probably the most iconic taxi of all. It existed as the Austin – then Carbodies and LTI – FX4 for nearly forty years, having been introduced in 1958, and remained aesthetically unchanged until 1997, when the current TX series took over the reins. Now, though, with LTI facing financial difficulties, the future of the traditional black cab is in doubt, with a range of van-based taxis poised to take over its role, as more and more examples of the FX and TX are phased out.
New York Yellow Cab
As synonymous with New York as the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty, the yellow cab was once a specialised design called the Marathon, built by the Checker Motors Corporation, but more recently a host of models have taken the Marathon’s place. The most typical yellow cab is the Ford Crown Victoria, but that won’t last for long as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has specified that all non-hybrid cabs registered from 28 October must be of a new, more efficient design based on the Nissan NV200.
If you’ve ever hung around outside a German airport for any length of time, you’ll recognise this serried rank of assorted beige Mercedes as Germany’s stock-in-trade taxi. Most local authorities mandate the use of this particular colour to differentiate taxis from private cars; Mercedes models, meanwhile, are often chosen for their robustness and reliability.
Across Indian cities, it’s the upright little Hindustan Ambassador that serves as the most ubiquitous taxi in the majority of cases. Based on the Morris Oxford Series III, the ‘Ambi’ became the most readily available private car on the subcontinent through the latter half of the 20th century, and as a result, a great many were put to work as taxis too. Indian taxis are frequently decorated with items of sentimental value to the driver as well as religious charms and statuettes.
The VW Beetle’s ubiquity in Mexico – VW produced the model in the country until 2003 – led it to become the default choice for taxi cabs in the country, and painted in a distinctive green-and-white livery, the clatter of an air-cooled engine soon became the soundtrack to any taxi journey. Now, with new regulations dictating that any taxi must be registered after 1998, the number of ‘Vocho’ (an amalgam of ‘Volkswagen’ and ‘coche’ or ‘car’) taxis is dropping rapidly, but there are still a few roaming the streets, keeping the Beetle taxi tradition alive.