I was wondering what would be the most recommended car as a taxi. Obviously, it would need to be a very strong and robust car that can clock a lot of miles in a short space of time, relatively cheap to run and comfortable.
Will you be self-employed under a firm, or operating under your own banner? If you are working for someone else then there's no point in having a car much more comfortable than the rest of the fleet, as you'll be in the pot for the jobs, unless by having a vehicle different from the others you will get more/better jobs.
If working on your own, then get what you think the local user might be missing. Do they want more seats or more comfort, or just a basic ride into town? Eg, if it was lostsof airport runs then a Skoda Superb might go down well, whereas if it's lads and lasses out on the town then it's an MPV five/six seater.
Most of the taxis in my home town are either cabs in the traditional black cab sense (except they're red) or Skoda Octavias. It could have something to do with the fact that we have a marvellous Skoda dealer in our town, or just that they're a really good car. A few Peugeot 406s starting to appear now too.
I've seen everything round here from BMW 5 series to Vauxhall Vectras to your Saturday nighter Toyota Carina-E.
IMO, what you do tend to see is a concentration of certain cars in one area. i.e. Skoda Octavia in one place, Omega in another, E-class somewhere else. I'm convinced that it's down to word of mouth reliablity reports from one cabbie to another. One bloke manages 200,000+ miles in car X and recommends it to all his mates on the rank, next week they've all got one!
Some drivers like high value cars that depreciate slowly, others go for depreciation nightmares to buy them up cheap. Much the same end result I suppose, in terms of end-to-end costs.
So, pick something, anything which doesn't have a bad rep. Keep it simple with a comfortable spec (but not silly) and well proven economical engine. Make sure its got space for 4-7 passengers depending on the business you want and you're home and dry.
That seems to be the only common formula I can spot.
A left-field choice that seems to be becoming quite popular around these parts (presumably due to the prices they were going for recently) is a Kia Magentis 2l with LPG conversion. A big, fairly executive-looking car which apparently some cabbies have been getting hold of for around £8500+VAT with conversion.
I have no idea about the long-term viability of this one, but the cabbies seem happy with them that I've seen and these cars do have a very healthy reliability record in the States where they sell by the tankerload.
Anyone have any views on these? I have to confess that at around £2000-2500 (unconverted) for a 3yo example on ebay I've been tempted for personal use myself.
Even though there is no Skoda dealer in my town (80,000 plus popultion) the vast majority of taxis are diesel Skoda Octavias.
The drivers swear by them and most obtain them new in Glasgow (must be a special rate available in the area); they are quite happy to have them serviced outside the area as they provide such excellent service in what is a very demanding test of a vehicle i.e. almost constant use and regular opening/closing of doors, hatch etc.
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When I was a minicab driver for two 3-month periods in 1973 and 75, some of my more 'professional' colleagues swore by the Austin and Morris Farina-bodied cars, saying that they were comfortable, very hard-wearing and reassuring to punters. One of the good things about them was that a lot had leather seats. Personally I found the styling grotesque (the bigger 6-cylinder cars had better proportions) and it was already somewhat old-fashioned.
I myself used a Singer Vogue estate. Minicabbing in South London is very hard indeed on a car. Punters quite liked the Singer, so much so that one day two burglars (I think that's what they were) politely asked me if I wanted to 'do a bit of driving' for them. I was very flattered, but declined equally politely.
We had a driver, a former Rhodesian policeman, whose alleged lechery had earned him the nickname 'Dirty Jim'. He drove a Moskvitch, a very ugly and quite small car which he, being huge, half filled. He was always upset when punters refused to get into it, as some did. He thought they were prejudiced against his car, but one couldn't help suspecting that it was him they minded rather than the car. .
"Even though there is no Skoda dealer in my town the vast majority of taxis are diesel Skoda Octavias.
The drivers swear by them and most obtain them new in Glasgow (must be a special rate available in the area)"
IIRC, Dave Taxi Driver mentioned in his thread about selecting an estate for a long-distance daily round trip that there is indeed a dealer in Glasgow that specialised in supplying Skodas to Taxi fleets. AFAIK, the Passat estate DTD chose for the round trip contract was sourced there too.
He'd also run several Octavias past 200,000 miles without problems, if that helps the OP in making his choice.
Have seen all sorts here but what has always struck me is the lack of Mercs compared to many other countries. Greece comes to mind in that the last time I was there, a couple of years back, virtually every cab you saw was a Merc. Perhaps they're too dear here to be considered.
Locally our cabbies seem to use Skoda and Peugeot diesels.
>>is the lack of Mercs compared to many other countries.>>
When we went to Croatia in the 1990s most of the taxis were big Mercedes - prices were remarkably cheap compared to the UK.
As you say, many other countries use Mercedes, but there used to be a taxi company in Nottingham that used a large number.
They would scoured used car adverts for diesel Mercs with up to 100k on the clock and buy them - the bullet-proof bodies and longevity of the under-stressed engines made them a sound buy for the purpose despite the mileage.
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Stuartli refers to Octavias in Glasgow: last time I took a taxi from Glasgow airport, the driver said that most drivers woud prefer Octavias (his was still going strong at over 300,000 miles) but that the local authority were threatening to make tham all have converted Peugeot minibuses (806 or 807 I presume) because of disabled access.
He wasn't trying to be offensive to disabled people, but he questioned the need for all taxis to be adapted given the small number of times that disabled people take taxis.
I don't know what the outcome of this has been, but I was in one of those Peugeots on the way back to the airport and it was noisy, cumbersome and uncomfortable and one can see prices going up if they became universal.
This aside, I'd think an Octavia TDI is the best bet - cheap to buy and run and most appear to be reliable.
I always wonder what price Mercedes sells taxis for in Germany
or elsewhere as cab fares there seem cheaper than here and
you travel around in what seems to be a more expensive car...
When my father worked for a local authority, there was a ruckus in the press which eventually led to the councillors carpeting the relevant officials. The "scandal" was that a Merc was being used for jobs such as ferrying staff (of all grades) between building sites. The vehicle in question had been a mayoral car, and was downgraded to other uses after it had gotten too old for that job.
Anyway, the finance people did the sums as requested, starting with the sale value of the Merc at the point when it was retired from mayoral duties. This intergalactic-mileage old diesel Merc came out as the cheapest vehicle the council ran.
That was n the early 1980s, before diesels were common in other cars, and when diesel was a lot cheaper than petrol, but even so it was a testament to the durability of those vehicles. At the time, many Dublin taxi drvers drove old Merc diesels, which they bought cheap in England at five to ten years old and ran for another few hundred thousand miles.
Now that Mercs are less reliable,and other makes do good reliable diesels, the Merc probably doesn't come out so well. So I guess that the German taxis must be purchased at a discount. Maybe there is also a special low-spec taxi variant to reduce costs?
Stuartli refers to Octavias in Glasgow: last time I took a
taxi from Glasgow airport, the driver said that most drivers woud
prefer Octavias (his was still going strong at over 300,000 miles)
but that the local authority were threatening to make tham all
have converted Peugeot minibuses (806 or 807 I presume) because of
My brother runs a taxi business and that is exactly his 'gripe' as well. The local council is attempting to make wheelchair access vehicles mandatory which will be a huge cost and largely unused by the disabled.
He lives not far from London and knows several London cabbies(whose taxis can accomodate wheelchairs) and they say they have no demand at all by wheelchair users.
By the way the car of choice for most of his drivers is a diesel(naturally) Mondeo - you can pick up 1-2 years old 'repmobiles' with 80-100k very cheaply and they put on huge mileages on top of that.
Many manufacturers offered special "taxi" spec cars,usually with upgraded suspension,seats,bigger alternator and wiring pre-installed for meter and roof-top sign.And these were offered at a very competetive price,so much so thay they were bought by ordinary punters in the know.
My tame taxi driver uses anything diesel, at about 3 to 3.5K quid (no pound sign on key board) He says his best car was a Rover 600 he bought with 60k ,ran it to 230k sold to a local wag of a semi retired cabby who renewed the G/box at 300k and apparently it's still going. His present car a Y reg Laguna diesel
I must stress my tame taxi drive is one of the most gentle drivers i know never thrashes through gears and a constant 65 to 70 on Mway
He also services them on the botton
Pure happenstance, but as a result of searching for "new Toyota Engines" recently, I came across a reference to a Toyota Crown? deritive (was it?) that was, and indeed still is, produced especially by Toyota for Taxicab use, driving instruction schools and hire fleet use in Japan.
A downspecced exec model, with a live beam rear axle, a much simplifed dashboard, and a 2 litre petrol engine with a straight a choice of basic manual or auto gearbox.
Alll kept basic and simple for easy ongoing maint.
Toyota make some superb vehicles we never see here, mainly because they would encroach on Lexus territory (even if almost identical cars are available in Japan but Toyota badged), Camry for instance had to go or i doubt they'd sell more than a handfull of IS.
The flagship of the Toyota range, Century, is still virtually unchanged for decades and still stubbornly wears its Toyota badge with pride (and still sports white lace curtains for the passenger cell) paying no lip service at all to the designs of european competitors, i'd love one just for Toyotas refusal to make it the same as everyone else's idea of a plutocrats limousine.
Despite the advertising, this could be an interesting thread to resurrect. Has the DPF issue made any difference to taxi-drivers'choices? - and have other councils followed Glasgow in insisting on all taxis being converted vans?
Around town I'd have thought a Skoda Rapid 1.2 petrol might be a good bet, but taxi firms doing a lot of airport runs need something bigger. A Superb or Mondeo perhaps, or one of those big Toyotas that GB mentions, if they can be found and if there are parts available for them.
The excellent Loddon Cars that we used to use in Berkshire (much better value than airport parking) used owner-drivers who mostly had (still have, no doubt) Audi A6s, BMW 7-series or Mercedes E-classes, six-cylinder diesels usually, which they would buy at a few years old.
Yesterday I was in a 1999 E class auto with just 616,000 km on the clock.
Today I was in a W124 diesel manual with 220,000, except it had gone round the clock and had done 1.2 million km. Imagine being a cabbie knowing the car bought in the mid 80s would keep running until you retire!
I also say a couple of W123s, dread to think how many kms they have done,