Austin Heavy 12/4 Taxi Cab, Jones Brothers, 1937
Who’s never seen, at least in a movie, a London taxi? Black, high, imposing they are really one of the features of the City.
Yet, in the Thirties the archetypal of the London taxicab was a different car, a landaulette or a saloon with the rear part of the roof that could be opened to allow the passengers to admire the City sights.
One of the coachbuilders specialised in building the taxi landaulette bodies was Jones Brothers, a Bayswater, West London-based firm which utilized for their creations the indestructible Austin Heavy 12/4 chassis.
The Heavy 12/4 had a not very powerful but highly reliable engine: built in the 1930s, during World War II the Jones Brothers landaulette taxicabs were used as fire-engines and remained in service along the London streets until the early Sixties, when they became the favourite hippies’ means of transport for their tours around the world.
The car shown in the Museum has been restored in England in the mid-1990s: it still has its script on the roof, the taximeter and the leather straps necessary to fasten the passengers’ luggage in the proper place on the driver’s side.