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History of the London Taxi

What is more iconic of England than a London Taxi? These vehicles have a rich history, having been built to specifications from the British government and enforced by the London Public Carriage Office. In the early days, these included separate passenger and driver compartments, a 25-foot turning radius to be able to perform U-turns in the narrow streets of London, and sufficient interior height to allow a gentleman to ride without having to remove his top hat. Over the years, other requirements have been added, including wheelchair access, placement of grab handles at door entrances to assist the elderly and disabled, and floor lighting for each passenger door, actuated by the opening of the door.

Although the vehicles clearly evolved with time, the exterior remained mostly the same until late in the 20th century. At that time, they were modernized while still paying homage to the traditional look of the classic London Taxi, resulting in the TX1. In 2002 the TX2 launched, looking much the same as the TX1 but sporting different mechanics; this model was produced through 2006. In an effort to market the vehicles abroad, approximately 275 TX2s were made for and shipped to the US between 2003 and 2004. These vehicles had their steering wheels placed on the left hand side like all normal cars in the US, and they were built to all federal and California smog emission standards. Best of all, they were designed with modern technology, including a reliable Ford engine that, when properly maintained, will last 500,000 miles or more. (Proper maintenance typically means regular oil and filter changes, and not much more.) The most recent model, the TX4, began production in 2007 and is only available abroad.
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